Darryl Malek-Wiley, a long-term New Orleans-based organizer with the Sierra Club (which down there works closely with labor and community groups), sends me this excellent platform for Gulf Coast reconstruction from his new base in Baton Rouge:

SEVEN PRINCIPLES FOR REBUILDING THE GULF COAST

I. PUT PEOPLE FIRST
The people who were hurt, suffered and were displaced must come first. The region should be rebuilt to meet their needs, and provide them with secure, prosperous and dignified lives. All must be welcomed back if they choose to return.

II. INVEST IN THE LOCAL WORKFORCE AND ECONOMY
Local workers and local businesses must be partners in the rebuilding. The disaster should not be used to drive down wages or salaries. Arguments of "efficiency" should not be used to channel the benefits of rebuilding to outside mega-firms. Existing prevailing wage, equal opportunity and small business safety nets should be respected, not shredded. In addition, workers involved in the clean up, rebuilding and restart of industry must be adequately protected.

More after the flip ...

III. DON'T SACRIFICE HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR SPEED
The community must be safe and healthy for those who are going to live and work there. While speed is of the essence for the immediate draining and restoration of basic infrastructure, scientists -- not politicians or bureaucrats -- must be allowed to determine what it will take to make the cleanup and rebuilding safe for residents, including children, the elderly, and those at particular risk from toxins. In addition, workers must be involved in the clean up, rebuilding and restart must adequately protected.

IV. REBUILD SMARTER AND BETTER
The disaster revealed the many mistakes made in the development of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities over the last half century and more. In rebuilding, the lessons of these failures must be learned. Adequate transit must be provided; homes, buildings, and sewage systems designed to withstand future storms; and the latest building and energy conservation technologies adopted. There's also a need to disarm time bombs that were not triggered by Katrina but still pose a threat in the future, including inadequate levees, substandard buildings, and uncleaned toxic waste dumps.

V. PROMOTE RESPONSIBILITY TO THE COMMON GOOD
Those whose practices put others at risk must not be allowed to repeat them. Oil and gas operations that destroyed protective barrier wetlands; floating casinos that threatened shoreline communities when the storm surge hit; the storage and disposal of toxic materials in flood-plains and wetlands; shoddy construction practices; inadequate drainage requirements -- all of these must be firmly and resolutely ended.

VI. REPAIR THE INEQUITIES OF THE PAST
This disaster made it clear that nature is the great equalizer and knows no race or class and that our emergency response mechanisms are often discriminatory, with dire consequences for minority and low-income communities. Our government needs to ensure that future emergency plans protect everyone, regardless of race and class. It must also ensure that the rebuilding lifts up everyone equally and does not simply restore past injustices.

VII. UPHOLD A MODEL OF DEMOCRACY
The people of the Gulf Coast must be allowed to oversee and control the reconstruction and ensure that these principles are respected. Communities and workers that are not involved in decisions will be more exposed and vulnerable to future risks. Transparency, accountability and public control are the most important key to success.