February 26, 2009

Landrieu Gets Angry Over FEMA Report

Filed under: Katrina — PolitiCalypso @ 9:47 pm

This just gets better and better. Allow me to pat myself on the back for this observation from the previous blog post:

“[T]hese Congresspeople really didn’t listen to their constituents or care that much about their problems. But when the media does its job, it sure can be a pain in the rear for them, can’t it?”

In the wake of the explosive CBS report on management incompetence and possible corruption in the FEMA office in New Orleans, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has shown her fire. This is a stunning change over the course of exactly seven days, which is when it became public that the stimulus didn’t do anything for Katrina-ravaged areas and several members of Congress were quoted rather nonchalantly saying that the money was tied up. Now that CBS has revealed the origin of at least part of this tie-up, it looks like things may—be still my heart—actually be done about it. Thank you, Katie Couric and Armen Keteyian.

As that story link shows, Landrieu has made it no secret that her fiery reaction today is owing specifically to the CBS report. She has called for the resignation of the manager named most prominently in that report, who has been accused by employees several dozen times of varied ethical violations, including racial discrimination, cronyism, intimidation, and sexual harassment. I think that, despite how bad it looks (and probably is), the guy is entitled to an impartial investigation. But Landrieu covers that ground too, calling for exactly what I have been calling for on this blog:

Landrieu said she expected Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano do complete a comprehensive review of FEMA leadership, and fire incompetent employees.

See, this is how it needs to be done. FEMA can’t be trusted to investigate itself in an honest manner. No government agency can, because there is the obvious conflict of interest. But the department it is a part of can do that. The Secretary has a personal interest in doing it correctly, in fact; it reflects badly on her for there to be ongoing corruption and malfeasance in such a prominent agency of her department.

I must admit that I am astounded that this kind of storm has erupted so quickly. It is rapid intensification to rival that which actually occurred in the hurricane itself, and it’s stunning to those of us who live in the Gulf region relatively close to the damaged areas and have witnessed little but delays and slow motion for three and a half years. CBS may have been looking into this FEMA office long before the news broke a week ago that there was no Katrina money in the stimulus, but not necessarily; the type of research that is spoken of could have been done relatively quickly. Interviewing employees and looking into complaint records wouldn’t take that long. Even if it was a long-standing project for CBS, the timeline of all this is amazing.

A few more stories like this, and I might even drop of some my Katrina-related cynicism.

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