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Duping CNN & Spawning False Hopes In New Orleans

01:00 AM CDT


False announcement in full:
Video of false announcement:

An irresponsible, unemployed, middle-class huckster posed as an assistant to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and insinuated himself into a Gulf Coast Reconstruction Conference yesterday.

Speaking alongside New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, the poorly-coiffed scofflaw announced that HUD was reopening all public housing in New Orleans to former residents.

"It is terribly sad that someone would perpetrate such a cruel hoax and play on the fears and anxieties of families who are desperate to return to their homes," said HUD spokesperson Donna White. (

"We are destroying those homes for good reason," White continued. "It is terribly sad that some people can't understand that. That lack of understanding speaks for the low level of government education in this country."

HUD would like to make the following points perfectly clear once and for all:

* HUD will NOT refrain from demolishing 5000 units of undamaged public housing simply because they are undamaged.

* HUD will NOT let people come home simply because they want to, are part of the city, and constitute a much-needed workforce.

* HUD is NOT encouraging Wal-Mart to withdraw from low-income neighborhoods in order to "stanch" the flow of money out of these neighborhoods, nor does it prefer "local" businesses.

* There is NO partnership between HUD, health departments and the CDC to provide adequate health care to low-income residents.

* A national tax base for public schools is NOT on the horizon of HUD or the Department of Education. U.S. public schools will continue to be funded from local taxes, which will continue to mean commensurate and proportionate levels of funding for schools in rich and poor neighborhoods. HUD does NOT believe equality of opportunity must begin in grade one, but believes it is a far more flexible concept.

* Also, Exxon has asked HUD to make clear that it will NOT pay $8.6 billion from its $35 billion in profits this year to close down the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and otherwise repair the damage caused by the oil industry to the natural protections surrounding New Orleans.

These are all lies, monstrously cruel, generative of oceans of false hopes and sadness.

The cruelty of fostering false hopes among a population long victimized by U.S. government policies is unfathomable. Virginia L., a would-be resident of the St. Bernard housing project, expressed her disappointment succinctly. "George W. Bush lives in public housing," she said. "Why don't they evict him?"

A contractor was equally critical. "I'm not angry at them for pulling this joke, I'm angry that it's not for real." (See video.)

May God afflict the perpetrators of this cruel hoax with all the varieties of damage they so amply deserve.

Media Contacts:

Donna M. White U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410 202-708-0980

Rene Oswin U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410

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