Since Hurricane Katrina ravaged his
city last August, Michael Liebaert
has been working nonstop in the botanical gardens at New Orleans' City Park.He
has been hacking through felled tree limbs, planting boxwood and overseeing the laying of new irrigation and electrical lines.Six- and sometimes seven-day work weeks have become the norm for Liebaert, managing director of the local Azby Fund, a private foundation that has pledged $2.1 million toward restoration of the heavily damaged park.
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On a Saturday afternoon last December, he
paused near a greenhouse filled with rare plants and pointed to a plaque from 1935 on the brick-and-glass structure explaining it was built as one of the New Deal's hundreds of projects in the area.Unlike many people in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, Liebaert
resists the notion that unlimited federal disaster relief-a "New New Deal" as some have come to call it-is the appropriate response to Katrina."The United States government cannot bail everyone out every time something happens," he
says."It should be there for emergency response so people don't starve to death and have at least a tent to live in, or maybe a trailer.But to come back and say, 'We're sorry you decided to build your house below sea level and we are obliged to put it back'-I don't think so."Liebaert
prefers a different recovery strategy, one that relies upon tax incentives, private philanthropy, for-profit enterprise and limited government assistance.