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Yes Men pull Hoax in New Orleans, posing as HUD

Press, executives fooled by phony HUD announcement
Two men posing as HUD officials duped local executives and members of the New Orleans press today during a fake news conference. The men took the stage at the Ponchartrain Center in Kenner claiming that the public housing agency would effectively reopen all of the city's public housing units. The bogus announcement was polished enough to fool some of the city's most seasoned news organizations. Below is the text of the phony press release.
this was the yes men ( http://www.theyesmen.org/)


Press, executives fooled by phony HUD announcement
Two men posing as HUD officials duped local executives and members of the New Orleans press today during a fake news conference. The men took the stage at the Ponchartrain Center in Kenner claiming that the public housing agency would effectively reopen all of the city's public housing units. The bogus announcement was polished enough to fool some of the city's most seasoned news organizations. Below is the text of the phony press release.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

10:30 AM CDT
MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2006


HUD SECRETARY ANNOUNCES ALL
PUBLIC HOUSING TO REOPEN IN NEW ORLEANS


In a bold reversal of policy, the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) announced today that they will reopen public
housing in New Orleans and embark on a bold new plan to help former
residents get back home.


At The Gulf Coast Reconstruction & Hurricane Preparedness Summit,
organized by Equity International
( http://www.katrinareconstruction.org), HUD Secretary Alphonso
Jackson admitted that the agency has been headed down the wrong path
for the last year.


"Our charter, here at HUD, is to ensure access to affordable housing
for those who need it the most. This past year in New Orleans, I am
ashamed to say that we have clearly failed to do this," said Jackson.


For many years, the official policy of HUD has been to replace
existing HUD projects with mixed-income developments, and to disperse
the remaining residents throughout the city. This policy has
continued after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans last
year, even though thousands of residents would like to return.


"We were wrong to prevent people from returning home at this critical
time, especially when the new master plan was going to keep them out
for good," Jackson said. "Today, it is my great pleasure to announce
to you that HUD is reversing our policy. From now on, and beginning
at all Orleans parish housing communities, our policy will no longer
be to destroy much-needed housing, but to do all in our power to make
it work."


The new plans include a significant increase in funding, amounting to
3.8 billion dollars in renovation and opportunity-creation contracts
in the affected communities. This is welcome news not only for the
public housing residents, but also for the contractors who can help
them get home. Equity International's Reconstruction Summit was
chosen for the announcement because it brings together key business
executives and government leaders at the local, state, and national
levels to facilitate new reconstruction and preparedness solutions.


"With the know-how in this room today, and this new funding package
from the federal government, we can fix New Orleans, not just for the
benefit of a few but for everyone," said Jackson in closing.
BIG APPLAUSE! 28.Aug.2006 21:42

kirsten anderberg

God, I LOVE these guys!
Much needed work!
Thank you!!!

website for the action 29.Aug.2006 02:03

here

see www.hano.us

there's a video there as well

text of the speech 29.Aug.2006 02:04

``

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very sorry that Secretary Jackson will be unable to make it here today. The decision that was made late last week is so important that he has had to meet with President Bush about it. Secretary Jackson asked me, however, to read this speech on his behalf.
I'll be happy to speak with any of you afterwards about what the increased budget can mean for you and your business, and about specific contract opportunities of relevance to yourselves.
Without further ado, then, here is Secretary Jackson's talk.

Dear Friends,

It is with great joy that I announce to you today a brand new Department of Housing and Urban Development. Everything is going to change about the way we work, and the change is going to start right here, today, in New Orleans.

Our charter is to ensure that affordable housing is available for those who need it. This year in New Orleans, I am ashamed to say we have failed.

For the past year, as various interests have battled it out for this city, we at HUD have often ended up on the wrong side of that battle, forgetting our charter and making decisions that cheat both contractors and ourselves of the chance to make a big difference.

Until today, we at HUD planned to demolish 5,000 units of perfectly good public housing here in New Orleans, and put commercial housing in its place. Almost all of these apartments have no damage at all, and their former occupants are by and large begging to move back in and start contributing to their city once again.

Today, we're going to help them to do that. But that's only the start. With your help, we're not going to destroy much-needed housing, we're going to make it work - for all of us. We've got a three-step plan:

1. The first step is to let these folks go home right now.
2. Next, we're going to help them create the opportunities they need to thrive.
3. Finally, with your help, we're going to give back to Mother Nature what she needs to protect this city for all of its citizens.

All of this is going to require your help to an unprecedented extent, and we are very pleased to announce a contracting budget of 1.8 billion dollars.

1. LET PEOPLE COME HOME

More on that in a moment. But first, how are we going to get these American families back in their homes to start the process rolling?

Until last week, our M.O. here at HUD was to tear down public housing whenever we could. Like many folks in Washington, we thought that the projects caused crime and unemployment, and we thought that erasing the symptom would get rid of the cause.

Well, we were wrong.

For one thing, employment rates in public housing were pretty much the same as anywhere else in this city. These were real communities, and in no way resembled the crime-ridden hood made popular by MTV. And today, with nearly all public housing still boarded up, crime rates are at record highs anyhow.

When we tore down St. Thomas and replaced it with "mixed-income" flats, only 1 out of 27 former residents made it back, and the rest have faced hostile communities, endless commutes, and in some cases homelessness. It just didn't work.

We will not make this error again. This afternoon, we will reopen all housing projects in New Orleans and allow these Americans to be part of their city again.

2. CREATE OPPORTUNITY

But opening doors won't be enough. We also need to create the conditions for the enduring prosperity of these communities.

To do that, we're first going to stop the flow of money out of these communities. You know something's wrong when local earnings of poor folks end up in pockets of Wal-Mart shareholders in Manhattan. After extensive discussions, Wal-Mart and three other chains have agreed to withdraw from areas near low-income New Orleans neighborhoods and to help nurture local businesses to replace them. Legislation under study at state and federal levels will make sure this sticks.

And money will start flowing in. Starting today, we at HUD will contract directly with public housing residents to remediate apartments and initiate community projects; these measures will invigorate these communities and create new expertise for the long term. We have also budgeted 75 million dollars in training and education incentives for contractors like yourselves to transfer necessary know-how to residents.

3. PROVIDE BASIC SERVICES

Now for the big stuff. All of us are here at the Pontchartrain Center today because we want to see New Orleans succeed. But to make that happen, we have a giant challenge before us: to make sure that essential infrastructure is available to everyone.

Health care, for example. Too many working families end up on welfare because some easily curable medical condition has gotten out of hand. No more. In partnership with health departments and the CDC, and with your help, we will insure there is at least one well-equipped public health clinic for every public housing development. We have 180 million dollars to make sure they're the best.

As for education, we all know that government education just isn't up to snuff. But why? It's because government schools are dependent on local taxes; when an area is underpriviledged, its schools have no money. That's why we at HUD are teaming up with the Department of Education to create a national tax base for schools. This will mean an immense amount of contracting work, and we hope that many of you will be bidding.

4. FIX THE ENVIRONMENT

The plans I've laid out so far will establish the groundwork for success of low-income communities. But there's one pesky detail: New Orleans is likely to flood once again.

It's not just that we keep pumping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. That's bad of course - but it's beyond HUD's scope. If a large ice shelf slips off Greenland, as it seems to be starting to do, there won't be a few thousand New Orleanians clamoring to get back into undamaged apartments, like today, but rather 300 million refugees whose cities have gone permanently under the sea. An agency mandated to assure affordable housing has to wonder what that would look like.

But even just another Katrina could bring us back to square one. Fortunately, there is a solution - and here's where we really need you.

As you know, the main reason New Orleans was so vulnerable to Katrina was the destruction of the wetlands - due in large part to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, built so that oil tankers could get to the ocean more cheaply.

I am pleased to announce that Exxon and Shell have agreed to finance the rebuilding of the protective wetlands from part of their 60 billion dollars in profits this year.

As J. Stephen Simon, Exxon Vice President, writes on the Exxon website: "We at ExxonMobil have always intended our business practices to have a positive effect on the world. When this turns out to be not the case, we must do whatever we can to remediate. Today, therefore, ExxonMobil is earmarking 8.6 billion dollars from revenues our company has made in this region to the project of shutting down the MRGO and beginning the long process of wetland restoration, so as to assure that ExxonMobil never again has a hand in destroying a large American city."

Any of you who might be interested in contracts around the MRGO closure program should get in touch with EPA or HUD offices as soon as possible, or give me your business cards at the press conference.



With your help, we at HUD are putting our collective mistakes behind us. Together, we will make sure that New Orleans follows in the footsteps of San Francisco, Tokyo, and Chicago, newly protected from dangers it used to face and well on the road to prosperity.

We will not rebuild just New Orleans - we will rebuild the American Dream. Many of you here will be crucial for this great endeavour.

Please come join us at the Lafitte housing complex for a festive ribbon cutting ceremony immediately after the plenary session. We can discuss the work to be done in more detail, and lunch will be served. This is what we're all here for, so let's make it happen. Let's Bring New Orleans Back.

Thank you.

Thank you very much for listening to Secretary Jackson's words. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have at the press conference following, as well as discuss contract issues.
And even though Secretary Jackson is not here, we will be proceeding with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lafitte right after this session; Secretary Jackson will also try to join us there. We'll be able to discuss contracts in some detail, and to get a hands-on look at what has to happen.
We'll have plenty of food, and we can get you back in time for afternoon sessions. We'll have some room in HUD vehicles, and see me or my associates to get a sheet with directions to Lafitte.