Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Problem in a Nutshell

In the recovery after the hurricanes, one aspect of the federal government’s incompetence has bitten local officials in the butt many times. The following example of a federally initiated posterior chomping happened in Mississippi, but could and has happened all along the Gulf Coast.

And surprise, surprise. It involves FEMA:
Then there is a bill Rose says FEMA still owes the city for having its sewage system smoke-tested after the hurricane. The system was clogged in some places and broken in others by storm waters, and the city proposed having smoke injected to locate serious leaks.

A FEMA official who was running things in Harrison County after the hurricane approved the idea, Rose said. That official is now gone.

The city had the testing done, paid $31,000 for the work and then asked FEMA for reimbursement.

"Now they say they're not going to pay for it," Rose said.
On more than one occasion, I have heard local officials complain that FEMA promised to fund a project, then new FEMA officials took over and decided they wouldn’t fund it. The work had already happened, though, and local officials had to either pay for it from their depleted bank accounts or waste time and resources fighting with the federal government to *do what it said it would do.*

You can’t solve an equation when the givens keep changing. When the federal government says it will do something, local officials plan accordingly. When the federal government doesn’t do what it says it will do, the local officials’ plans fail accordingly.

The Gulf States affected by the storms and floods are asking for a lot. But at this point in the recovery, we are not asking for handouts. We are asking for the federal government to do what it said it would do.

Around the anniversary of Katrina, federal officials were fond of reminding the American people of all the funding they said was coming to the Gulf Coast. Of course, we then learned that less than half of the money they said was coming had actually arrived.

It ain’t what you say. It’s what you do. (At least, that’s what I tell lil po’ boy.)

The President came down here
a year and a month ago and said:
And tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.
And we planned accordingly. But it’s going to take a little more and take a little longer for us to rebuild our communities and our lives. And it will take the federal government doing what it says it will do for us to do what we need to do.


LatinTeacher said...

I have been reading your blog for almost a year. You make sense. You think clearly. And you state the facts. I agree with you. The problem is that we believe what they say. They (FEMA, federal government, Nagin, etc.) say some of the things we want to hear. We believe and act in good faith. There is no good faith from above - only between those with good will. The federal government does not understand good will. They understand fiscal responsibility. So, like Berry in Rising Tide, follow the money. That's where the responsibility lies. You, me, and the rest of us peons are without power. But you better keep reporting and counting because someone need to know that we aren't going to take this sitting or lying down.

slate said...

You nailed it.

I've been working for two months on a piece for my blog about the psychological effects of the loss of a social contract. The social contract we thought we had that it turns out we didn't but we still hope. . . . . .

I can't get it finished because a. I keep getting mad, b. more info comes out that I think I need to put in, and c. I feel like I'd be ranting in the wilderness.

Thanks for ranting in the wilderness.