"The Wondering Jew"
Feb. 14, 2006 - 20:37 MST
IS THIS NEWS ?
An Article in this morning's Rocky Mountain News by Hope Yen of the Associated Press brings out what many of us have suspected all along. In full then :
KATRINA AID SPENDING A DISASTER, AUDITS SAY
Millions wasted in bad bookkeeping, fraud and abuses
WASHINGTON -- "The government squandered millions of dollars in Katrina disaster aid, including handing $2,000 debit cards to people who gave phony Social Security numbers and used the money for such items as a $450 tattoo, auditors said Monday."
"Federal money also paid for $375-a-day beachfront condos and 10,777 trailers that were stuck in mud and unusuable."
"Overcharges, poor accounting and abuses will take "months or years" to rectify, the Government Accountability Office and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general concluded in preliminary reports on how billions of dollars in taxpayer money is being spent."
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency recognizes it "made many, many mistakes" and is working on improvement, Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner said. "But they're not where they should be. In some cases, the government will have little legal recourse to recoup payments to contractors for payments."
"Seperately, the Justice Department said Monday that federal prosecutors had filed fraud, theft and other charges agains 212 people accused of scams related to Gulf Coast hurricanes."
"Forty people have pleaded guilty, the latest report by the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force said."
" But the reports weren't entirely negative. An initial review by Skinner found that FEMA's decision to sign a contract with Carnival cruise Lines for Hurrican Katrina housing shortly after the August 29 storm, "was responsible under the urgent circumstances."
"The six-month, $236 million deal with Carnival for three full service cruise ships -- which intially sat half-empty for several weeks on the Gulf Coast -- had been criticized by lawmakers of both parties as a prime example of wasted spending in Hurricane Katrina-related contracts."
"However, Skinner said the decision appeared to be an economical choice "in a high cost area such as New Orleans so long as occupancy remains high." A review of the contract's specific terms was continuing."
"The GAO report found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under the emergency cash assistance program -- which included the debit cards given to evacuees -- based on their requests on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names."
"In other instances, recipients improperly used debit cards intended for food and shelter for $400 massages, a $450 tattoo, a $1,100 diamond engagement ring and $150 worth of products at "Condoms to Go."
"The reports called for stronger controls to verify the eligibility of disaster victims who apply for aid over the phone and Internet, better planning of emergency supplies for hurricanes and improved accounting of FEMA's vast inventory of temporary housing."
"Senators decried the problems."
"Once again, FEMA failed to adequately plan for the very type of disaster that occurs virtually every year," said Susan Collins, R-Maine, who chairs a Senate panel reviewing the government's response to the storm."
"Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said hurricane victims and taxpayers alike were being "ripped off." "It's unacceptable and ultimately infuriating. We need to do everything we can to insist that FEMA and DHS prepare for the next disaster," he said."
"The audits released Monday do not try to estimate a total figure on waste and abuse, but GAO auditor Gregory Kutz told senators during a hearing that it was "certainly millions of dollars; it could be tens or hundreds of millions of dollars."
" That includes money paid at retail cost for hotel rooms for evacuees. The charges included $438 rooms in New York city and beachfront condominiums in Panama City, Florida at $375 a night."
"FEMA may have also bought too many temporary homes, including 10,777 units that are sitting empty in sinking mud in Hope, Ark."
"Meanwhile, a one-day "snapshot" investigation found a handful of cases where hurricane victims improperly sold free military foodstuffs known as "Meals-Ready-to-Eat" on e-Bay>"
The scope of the catastrophe in New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast is mind boggling to say the least. And how to cope with human survival and welfare is completely daunting, it is easy to see.
Susan Collins, R.-Maine brought up a very touchy subject -- her words, "Once again, FEMA failed to adequately plan for the very type of disaster that occurs virtually every year." Hits a sore point I think. A pertinent one too. Every year our country on one coast or another or in our midlands encounters disaster catastrophes, and every year fumbling at the head takes place it seems to me.
I think the speedy delivery of "economy" trailers as near as possible to the scene would be of prime importance, locating them as near to the scene as possible and on dry ground.
Another thing in my mind, makes me think of myself in such a problem. My house and possessions washed away, my records gone, and possibly even the contents of my billfold having identification missing in the furor of the flood. What way would I have to receive aid ?
Also using Carnival Cruise ships for relief makes sense to me. How many times in the past has our Navy come to the aid of stricken countries, including hospital ships too. Of course all our war ships are spoken for in the Persian Gulf now I guess.
Seems to me that our government could put the people in such a condition into Spartan housing, issue GI clothing if nothing else, see that adequate food and cleaning supplies are available an with adequate wastewater facilities -- until such time as things can be sorted out and records copied and obtained so that a person can obtain their records and apply for more robust aid.
Planning and execution for the future, fix the damn levees, make them hella higher, pump Delta mud into the low lying areas and leach the salt out. Possibly leach the salt from the lands which were covered by flood waters. I'm sure some of that will not support crops for years.
How would we in the Denver Area cope with a huge earthquake ? Guess we have enough dams around to prevent a flood like here in 1965, watermark as high as six feet in areas west of the Union Station and all the industrial properties in the Platte River Valley which runs through town. Devastation of a tornado, can happen here. And a question in my mind, how would an epidemic be handled here ? How many of us will be left to bury the dead ?
It can't happen here ? Hah, something equally as bad can happen to us, even though what it could be, no one knows. But, historically, BAD HAPPENS, all too often. Even those surviving have a hard time reestablishing themselves in time to have a happy peaceful life -- what's left of it.
Makes me wonder, do we have the gumption and energy to gather round and insist that our government actually govern, govern to take care of the people of our country ? Give care where it is needed, without insisting that folks think a certain way, vote a certain way, and go to one certain church ?
And what about our decaying highways, are they going to be brought into repair ?
Heaven forbid that one should ask that the government knock off the tax breaks, those of us who can benefit get peanuts compared to the rich folks and the corporations.
So it is admitted that mistakes were made, admitted the following year. So, IS THIS NEWS ? . . . . . . . . .0 comments so far