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Hannity

Rebuidling NOLA

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 12, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

Earlier today Sean toured one of the neighborhoods of the Ninth Ward that could be completely demolished under the city's controversial rebuilding plan. And while he was there he confronted Peter Trapolin, an architect and a member of Bring New Orleans Back, the city's redevelopment commission.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I've watched this from afar. It is mile after mile, neighborhood after neighborhood. I don't think most people at home know the magnitude of the destruction here, do they?

PETER TRAPOLIN, BRING NEW ORLEANS BACK: No, they have no idea. And that's why we've been trying to get people down here to see it. Because nobody has any kind of idea of what really happened here in New Orleans.

HANNITY: Well, I want them to see this. And as we look and show them, it's one house after another that's been knocked down, knocked off its thing.

TRAPOLIN: That's right.

HANNITY: One neighborhood after another that literally is — nobody lives there. I've walked into a dozen houses today, and you see people's lives shredded.

Here's the controversy. What do we do?

TRAPOLIN: Well, that's what we're trying to figure out. And there's been a lot of plans put forth and right now the Bring New Orleans Back commission's plan is to try to stop for four months and try to decide exactly what can we do to intelligently rebuild neighborhoods.

HANNITY: Yes, yes. You know something? There was a very angry commission meeting last night. There are people saying over my dead body is this plan going to go forward.

TRAPOLIN: That's right.

HANNITY: I mean, but look, just as we pan over here and look at these homes, and it goes throughout this block and then the next block and then the next block, and then you go over the bridge to the next community. So should the government be telling people that they must go along with the government plan?

TRAPOLIN: No, I don't think people are going to say that they must go on with the government plan. What we're trying to do is we want the neighbors to participate in creating a plan for each and every neighborhood in the city. So that they are involved in the process. And we feel that once a plan is developed, with the neighborhood participation and expert planners, that they will want to participate what the new vision is for New Orleans.

HANNITY: There's one person last night quoted as saying, "Over my dead body. I'm going to suit up like I'm going to Iraq and fight this."

TRAPOLIN: Right.

HANNITY: So you have a lot of angry people out there that are going to fight this proposal.

TRAPOLIN: Well, I don't think they fully understand the proposal. And you know, we want them to participate in the process. Nobody has said that they're going to come in and take their land. You know, we're going to look at it. We're going to study the whole issue.

HANNITY: Yes.

TRAPOLIN: And four months is a very short time frame to even look at the beginning of revisioning a city, as to what exactly will this city be.

HANNITY: What do you do in a situation like this? Look at those homes here. And it goes throughout this way all throughout the whole block. Does the city have to come into the situation like this for safety reasons and say, "We must bulldoze this?"

TRAPOLIN: I think there are cases where the city probably will come in and say they have to bulldoze, but that's individual people's property. They will be requested to give a right of entry to the property so that the government can come in and clean out.

HANNITY: Yes.

TRAPOLIN: We did the same process on the Gulf Coast. I went over there recently and signed a right of entry form for the Corps of Engineers to enter our property to clean it.

HANNITY: You know, it's funny, because I spent a lot of time, and I walked in some of these homes. And we could probably even shoot inside some of these. But I mean, every one there's a story, there's a family.

TRAPOLIN: Absolutely.

HANNITY: You see the bicycles and the televisions and the walls come tumbling down. And you know, it's almost unimaginable. What is the total population that lost their homes like this?

TRAPOLIN: Well, the houses that are lost like this I have no idea. But over half of the city has lost their homes. Eighty percent of the city was flooded. Right now the population is only just over 100,000, down from about 475,000 pre-Katrina.

HANNITY: Sure.

TRAPOLIN: The projections are that it won't even reach half the size that it was pre-Katrina in three years.

HANNITY: Yes. You know something? I guess like everything else it's a balancing act. If I understand or have a fundamental understanding, you know, this is somebody's home.

TRAPOLIN: Right.

HANNITY: And, you know, now the government's coming in and saying, "Well, for the benefit of the city, for the redevelopment of the city we're going to have to knock your home down."

And then so what do you do in a case where somebody says, "Wait a minute. I spent my whole life saving enough money to buy that home. It may not seem like much to you, but that's my castle."

TRAPOLIN: No, it is. And there's very large homeownership in this district.

HANNITY: Sure.

TRAPOLIN: And the city recognizes that, and they want to give everybody an opportunity to still own their own home. The question is — and this neighborhood we want them to own their own home.

HANNITY: Even in the Ninth Ward?

TRAPOLIN: In the Ninth Ward. We want every neighborhood. Lakeview, Ninth Ward, New Orleans East, Gentilly. We want every neighborhood to have an opportunity to come back. But you can't realistically expect a neighborhood to come back exactly like it was.

HANNITY: Yes.

TRAPOLIN: And so we may need to ask people to consolidate into a smaller area.

HANNITY: Maybe, if I could suggest one thing, it seems what people are telling me is that the government is beginning to dictate. I think they need to partnership more. Is there a need to maybe communicate better with the people that own these properties?

TRAPOLIN: I think there probably is. I don't think a lot of the people that heard that report yesterday or read about it in the paper fully understand the intent of that report.

That report plans to have a neighborhood planning process for every neighborhood in the city, where the citizens get to participate. And if we have to take the show on the road to involve the citizens that are evacuated, we'll involve them in some manner. But there will be neighborhood leaders and planning groups for every neighborhood.

HANNITY: Peter, it would be great to come back in a couple years and see this area redeveloped. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

TRAPOLIN: Sure.

HANNITY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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