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Mr. HAMLEY. I want to say this: We appreciate that. We know that they are trying to do something. But we just do not want them to do it to us.
The CHAIRMAN. I know, but I say they have their views, but they are based upon recognizing your rights and your privileges, and they say that this will not be undertaken unless they have the cooperation of the local interests, and you are sure that that cannot be obtained ?
Mr. HAMLEY. Mr. Chairman, I know it; not where I live. The CHAIRMAN. Suppose we should work out and adopt this kind of a program, would it have your support:
First. Definitely abandon the Boeuf Floodway.
Second. Build the fuseplug levee at Arkansas City to 1928 grade and section.
Third. Eliminate the proposed Eudora Floodway.
Fifth. Approve project from Old River south through the Atchafala ya to the Gulf of Mexico, with modifications.
Sixth. Approve St. Francis and Yazoo Basin projects.
Seventh. To extend the reservoir work to the White and Arkansas Rivers.
Mr. HAMLEY. Yes, sir; that is fine, Mr. Chairman. I think that is all right.
The CHAIRMAN. That program is satisfactory?
Mr. HAMLEY. That would suit me fine. They need help up in Arkansas. We have some interests up in Craighead County near Lake City—these gentlemen in Arkansas know where that is." They sure do need some help up there. We are pulling hard for them to get out of the water, because they are wet and we are dry.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I think you made a very helpful statement.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is what I understand. You would just as soon the whole bill would not be passed, so far as you are concerned, if they are going to have the Eudora Floodway in it?
Mr. HAMLEY. I would rather not have the whole bili.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I say, if we are going to have the Eudora floodway in there, even if you put the St. Francis and the Yazoo and the Atcha falaya in, you would still be opposed to the bill, wouldn't
Mr. HAMLEY. I would have to be; yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. If that guide levee had been built up there under the act of 1928, and your fuseplug had been constructed to the guide levee, your area would have been protected, would it not?
Mr. HAMLEY. Yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You are opposed to this bill as it stands, you say, but if it should happen to be enacted or reported. you favor especially this excess profits income tax elimination?
Mr. HAMLEY. Oh, if it just had to come, sure. I would hate to have to pay income taxes. I would hate to see anybody else have to pay it, because we all object to paying taxes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Even in Louisiana ? The CHAIRMAN. An assessor finds that out, doesn't he? Mr. WHITTINOTON. You understand the main plank in the sharethe-wealth " program is to raise the excess-profits taxes !
Mr. HAMLEY. Yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You want that excepted from that plank in the platform, down there in the Endora floodway in Louisiana, don't
Mr. HAMLEY. Yes, sir.
(Whereupon at 1:10 p. m., the committee adjourned until 2:30 p. m. of the same day, Friday, Mar. 12, 1935.)
STATEMENT OF F. H. SCHNEIDER, OF LAKE PROVIDENCE, LA.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: The two witnesses ahead of me discussed the economics of our district. I want to depart a little bit and talk about the set-back levees, and so forth, what we have stood for.
General Markham states in his report, “ Because of local opposition the construction of the Boeuf floodway levees has not been undertaken." The next report we want the general to make is, * Because of local opposition the construction of the Eudora floodway has been abandoned.” If local opposition prevents the building of the Boeuf floodway, local opposition will also prevent the building of the Eudora floodway.
The fifth Louisiana levee district does not want the floodway, and the property owners in the proposed floodway are opposed to and propose to fight it to the bitter end.
We have meekly submitted to the conditions imposed upon us by the Flood Control Act of 1928. Our lands have been taken in carrying out the plan, without compensation to the owners; we have stood for this for the reason an old Spanish law handed down to us says alluvial lands adjacent to the Mississippi River owe a servitude for levee construction purposes without due process of law and without compensation to the owners of the land.
Now we have stood for being slapped in the face by this law which deprives us of our constitutional rights as American citizens, but we are not going to stand for being kicked in the seat of our breeches by the floodway without a strenuous fight. We propose to fight for the restoration of our rights as American citizens. As it is now, we are not American citizens as far as our property is concerned. We are governed by an old Spanish law which supersedes and takes away from us our rights under the Constitution of the United States. In fact, we are not American citizens, we are Spanish-American citizens. We are American citizens when it comes to conscripting our boys for war, when it comes to paying income and other taxes to the Government, and if we violate any laws of the United States they will put us in Sing Sing or up in an island in the Mississippi just as quickly as if we were American citizens. But when they come down and take our property away from us we are not American citizens, we are Spanish-American citizens, and not entitled to our rights under the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution says that private property cannot be taken for the public good without due process of law and just compensation. We are denied these rights. Louisiana is the only State in the Union, all of whose citizens are not protected by the Constitution of the United States when their property rights are at stake.
I would just like to illustrate that a little bit to you, to show that we have stood for so much and refuse now to be the goat in this transaction.
At Wilson Point they developed the plan of this district, this levee here. The levee runs around this point. But in developing the project they found out it would take a million and a half dollars to go around the point. It took them a half a million dollars to go acrcoss the point. But in going across the point they threw out 12,000 acres of land. They built this levee across the point, and the people in that area there were forced to contribute those 12,000 acres to the public without compensation.
Down in Tensas Parish, what we call the “ Bayou Vidal-Elk Ridge levee”, to build this levee along the front would have cost 2 million dollars. But in building this levee they would have had to build 8 miles of levee, which would have cost 21/2 million dollars. But they can go back for 2 miles and build a levee around and throw out 25,000 acres of land for $1,300,000. In the construction of that levee they saved $3,200,000, but they required the property owners there to contribute 20,000 acres of land, which they could have bought for $750,000. It saves $3,200,000. A fourth of that would be paid for the land they · took away from us without compensation. In that area there are four plantations, representing the life savings of those people. Their old age and the education of their children depends upon the income from this property. Now it is taken away without compensation and they are required to contribute that much to the public good without compensation. The Constitution says you cannot take private property for public good without due process of law and just compensation. In the entire district so far there have been close to 70,000 acres taken just that way by set-back levees, and the people have not been paid for it. That is the reason why I say those of us who live in the alluvial lands of the Mississippi River adjacent to the Mississippi River are Spanish-American citizens.
I call your attention to the above conditions to show you how meekly we have submitted in the past to the mandates of the present law. There is a bill before this committee rectifying this, and I hope you gentlemen report it out favorably, because we have been so good now and have so meekly accepted the plan, gone in and contributed our property without compensation. They are asking us now on account of opposition in the Boeuf to submit meekly to have this floodway put down on us. On account of local opposition in our district, we refuse to submit. If this floodway is forced on us, we propose to fight it to the bitter end.
General Markham says he proposes to pay one and one-half times the assessed valuation of the land in the floodway for flowage rights, but that will never be done until the state or one of its agents secures the right-of-way and flowage and turns them over to the Government. We do not believe that the levee board can get this flowage. We will not treat with the levee board. The land in that floodway is not subject to this servitude. When we get back in the floodway we are American citizens again, and we propose to stand on our rights as American citizens and insist that our land be taken by due process of law and with just compensation.
Our district is prospering, new people are moving in, lands are being improved, and the spirit of optimism prevailed until
they commenced to talking about putting a floodway down on us. That put a damper on everything, because our people recognized that the building of the floodway, which takes more than a third of our district, will kill the prosperity of the future and increase the tax burden of its citizens and lessen the chances of thousands for educational and material advantages.
General Markham said the floodway will not be used more than opce in 15 years. General Ferguson thinks that with channel work now being carried on in the Mississippi by cut-offs and revetments, and with the reservoirs now under construction, we may never use the floodway. We are all of the opinion that with increase in discharge due to cut-offs now completed or under construction, and with reservoirs which we believe will be built on the White and St. Francis Rivers, also with work being done on the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, a floodway is unnecessary and we are willing to take our chances rather than sacrifice the future of our district by imposing on our people the destructive hazard of a floodway that depreciates the value of more than a third of the land in the district. We
e are not unreasonable in our demands. We are not demanding a high price for our lands; this is no land-selling scheme. One of the members of your committee last week asked me if they gave us $100 an acre would that be satisfactory. I told him “No, sir; we did not want to sell our lands, we wanted to preserve this land for the future and not sell out our country.” He said, “I want to shake hands with you, you show the right spirit.”
What we want is perfectly simple. All we ask is that the building of the Eudora floodway be abandoned, that the fuseplug section be enlarged to the 1928 grade and section and the $103,000,000 saved be either put in reservoirs on the Arkansas or the White River or be used as a fund to pay these people in the backwater area who have been so unjustly treated.
We do not want to go to the ridiculous on the thing, like General Markham and General Ferguson, when the latter says tidewater swamps. This is no tidewater swamp proposition at all. There is a certain amount of backwater area which does not deserve compensation, but lots of people have gone in this area above what they considered was the backwater, have cleared up the land, built their homes and established themselves there and put the land in cultivation. By the work we have done on the Mississippi in carrying out flood control, this land has been taken away from us, and I think those people are due some compensation.
Gentlemen, we do not want this flood way. We are not going to have it if we can help it. But if you force it on us, we are going to make you pay like hell for it.
Mr. RANSDELL. Will you please state whether or not you have any personal property in this proposed floodway?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I think I have two places in there.
Mr. RANSDELL. The most of your holdings are in that portion of the parish of East Carroll, which would be next to the main river, not in the floodway!
Mr. SCHNEIDER. That is right.
Mr. RANSDELL. Do you feel, Mr. Schneider, that your other holdings would be considerably diminished in value because of increased taxation if this floodway is placed there?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Not only that, Senator, but we will lose most of our trade territory.
Mr. RANSDELL. How would that affect you personally!
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I am in the hardware business there. I sell these people that live in the floodway lots of stuff.
Mr. RANSDELL. You have a wholesale and retail hardware store?
Mr. RANSDELL. You would be badly affected personally, though most of your holdings are not in the floodway!
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Yes.
Mr. Schneider, in opposition to this!
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I think that everybody in the parish is against it, except two people.
Mr. RANSDELL. Is that so, everybody except two?
Mr. RANSDELL. I suppose there is some reason why those two should perhaps favor it?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Yes, sir; a very good reason.
Former Senator Ransdell, who lives at Lake Providence, La., will be the next witness.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOSEPH E. RANSDELL, OF LAKE
Mr. RANSDELL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen : I had expected to make rather an elaborate talk on this subject, but it has been so ably presented by my associates and others during the course of this extremely interesting hearing, that I shall be quite brief.
I represent, in part, the people of three parishes of northeast Louisiana, East Carroll, Madison, and Tensas, three of the four parishes which constitute the Fifth Louisiana Levee District through which this floodway is adopted will flow.
I also represent the Fifth Louisiana Levee District, through the authority of its president, Hon. A. E. Kell, the police juries, who