Joseph Canizaro was just putting the finishing touches on his new mansion west of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. More than four years in the making, the extravagant beaux-arts palace had 12-foot-high ceilings, a private chapel (he's a devout Roman Catholic) and massive walls devoted to his collection of old-masters art. The house took on nearly two feet of water during the storm and suffered devastating damage to its ground floor. But for now, Canizaro has set aside that reconstruction project to focus on a more monumental one: rebuilding the city as a whole. A real-estate and banking mogul with close ties to the Bush administration, Canizaro, 68, is arguably the most powerful person on Mayor Ray Nagin's 17-member rebuilding commission.
On Jan. 9, the commission plans to issue its blueprint for New Orleans's revival, addressing everything from flood protection to the city's dysfunctional school system. Canizaro, whose hard-charging style hasn't always earned him friends, has infuriated some community leaders by suggesting that some of the city's lowest-lying neighborhoods—which are often poor and black—may need to be forsaken to replenish protective wetlands. "If we're going to be successful," he says, "we're going to have to make some tough decisions."
Here's a question...why is it that when rich folks say 'we are going to have to make some tough decisions' it always involves cutting, destroying or denying something from the poor.