A year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial called upon leaders of the nation's major political parties to hold their 2008 conventions in New Orleans.
"This would not only provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the city's economy and put people to work, it would also send a powerful message to the nation and the world that you are squarely and solidly in support of rebuilding the storm-torn regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama," said Morial, who was mayor of New Orleans from 1996 to 2002.
In his letter to Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, Morial also urged the parties to limit convention expenditures at 50 percent of 2004 levels and contribute the rest to Gulf Coast rebuilding.
"More than national speeches and policy pronouncements, this kind of gesture would renew the hope of Katrina victims as well as prove that they have not been forgotten," he said.
In 2004, Republicans took their convention to New York City, a little less than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, injecting an estimated $255 million in much-needed revenue into the city's economy. It cost $82 million, according to a Federal Election Commission audit. The Democrats held their event in Boston, generating an estimated $154.2 million in revenue and costing $50.3 million.
"The GOP came to New York City's rescue in 2004. Why can't the political parties come to the aid of New Orleans, which was hit by a tragedy nearly as grave as 9/11 and as deserving of such grand gestures?" Morial asked.
"Our political leaders need to put their rhetoric into real action. What better way to help the victims than to hold their conventions right in the midst of Katrina's Ground Zero?" he added.
— The Associated Press