Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Haley Barbour's Comet-like Persuasion Gives Barber's Clip to Mississippi Homeless

By Winsip Custer CPW News Service

If there was any question about how the unholy triad of state Governors Haley Barbour, Scott Walker and Richard Scott would use a federal block grant for the administration of Medicaid dollars, Americans have only to look at Barbour's handling of Katrina funding earmarked for housing. When thousands of Mississippians lost their homes to Katrina and remained in FEMA trailers, a $600 million grant earmarked for housing was commandeered and diverted for the expansion of a state owned port project including casino and resort facilities.

Mississippi Governor Hailey Barbour
With strong objections from congressional Democrats the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson sent a letter to Mississippi Governor Barbour approving the diversion saying that the "congressional language" gave Jackson little discretion to prohibit the Governor's action which equated to socialism for the very rich while letting the poor "eat cake".

Opponents of Barbour, the Mississippi Republican turned lobbyist, then governor, included Sister Martha Milner. Milner, a Catholic nun and experienced housing advocate said of Jackson's approval of Barbour's blatant bludgeoning of the bi-lateral decision that provided for the initial federal grant, "It's just insanity, true insanity."

Despite strong objections from housing activists and two powerful congressional Democrats, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson sent the Mississippi Governor the letter approving the $600 million diversion.

Milner who was serving on the board of the Steps Coalition, an outspoken voice along the Gulf Coast against the redirection of the funds was opposed by Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr who said "In order to remain a viable port, we have to do a good job with this repair and redevelopment."  Warr faced his own problems with fraud when he was convicted of lying about a $222,000 FEMA claim on a home that was not his primary residence while promoting the redirecting of FEMA's $600 million away from those far less fortunate than Warr.  He was found guilty, had to repay FEMA's money, do 100 hours of community service time and spend three years on probation.

President George W. Bush and Brent Warr, mayor of
Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina and before Mayor Warr's
criminal conviction for defrauding FEMA.
Barney Neadmoore of Biloxi came up with a plan that was flatly rejected by the Barbour administration.  "Our coalition of displaced workers, the Greater Biloxi Coalition of the Willing and Able, came up with the perfect solution.  Housing would be provided in the casinos.  The roulette and craps tables would be used for gaming except for the hours of four to eight a.m. when employees would sleep on them, but we wanted the federal tax dollars to also open the doors to partial employee ownership of the renovated casinos.  We were all willing to do our part on four hours of sleep a night to have a job and a place to stay that didn't smell like those damn formaldehyde-filled FEMA trailers," said Neadmoore.

That was before the BP oil spill which further ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast and turned the prospects of making Gulfport a tourist Mecca into a punchline in a few hundred comedy club routines across the nation. "Barbour's misspelled his name. It's Barber," said Biloxi Comedy Club's Shecky Blue, "cause he'll give you a  clip and shave you'll never forget."

Sister Martha Milner was joined in her criticism of Barbour by Father Michael Gabriel Israel of the Christian Friends of the Mississippi Marshes and Wetlands. A strong proponent of marshland baptisms, before the loss of a thirty-five year old mother of two to a sixteen foot alligator during a baptism on Lake Pontchartrain in 1997, Father Israel refocused his ministry on wildlife habitat reclamation and affordable human housing.   The young mother's body was never recovered and the gator was never found.  Father Israel, whom some call "Dr. Doolittle-Habitat-for-Humanity",  said "I disagree with Sister Milner's assessment of Governor Barbour. He's not insane. Possessed, yes. Insane? No. There's nothing wrong with Haley Barbour that a forty day fast and exorcism couldn't fix," said Israel who also expressed concern for proposed legislation for Federal block grants that would give states a no-string-attached and easily redirected Medicaid cash infusion into state budgets.

Father Michael Gabriel Israel who lost his left
eye in a battle with a 16 foot alligator
on Lake Pontchartrain in June of 1997.
Meanwhile, in a straw poll of GOP Presidential contenders conducted over the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley Barbour came out ahead of Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and others. "Good God, y'all," yelled Father Israel upon hearing the results of the informal poll.  The angry and increasingly disenchanted priest immediately put in an emergency call to the Vatican in hopes of employing the leading exorcist, Father Jesus Peter Paul David Mendoza and a dozen members of Opus Dei to assist Governor Barbour on his unscheduled 40 day fast and personal improvement retreat to an undisclosed location somewhere outside of New Orleans.  "At the end of his retreat I plan to baptize Haley at a secret and sacred locale on Lake Pontchartrain," said Father Israel.

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