My complaint about FEMA is not directed at the Bush administration, but to the continual waste of taxpayers money in their response to national disasters.
The News was replete with cries from State and Local officials that President Bush wasn’t taking their disaster seriously. Blame came from all quarters, and was repeated night after night by the Leftist leaning Media.
It later was revealed that the former Democratic Governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the Mayor of New Orleans, were partially responsible for the delayed evacuation. Hundreds of school buses were sitting idle, and were not made available to the evacuees.
The latest example of Government waste involves FEMA officials and the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.
Katrina destroyed the aquarium and the majority of its tropical fish. To replace the fish, a dozen aquarium staff members went fishing in the coastal waters off Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas to capture tropical fish. They worked 12 hour days ,but put in invoices for only 8 hour days for reimbursement from FEMA. The captured 1,661 fish for which they paid $99,766.
The problem, that has resulted in a delay in FEMA reimbursement for over 17 months, is the strict interpretation of the Stafford Act. This law, passed by Congress, requires that facilities damaged by disaster can only be restored to their pre-disaster condition, not improved.
FEMA requires that all purchases should be made from approved commercial sellers of tropical fish, and they must be of the approximate age and size of the lost ‘specimens”!
How do they determine the fish’s age?
The shame of this bureaucratic debacle is that had the aquarium taken the easy way out, and bought the fish from commercial vendors, the cost has been estimated at over $500,000.
New Orleans is just one example of the Government waste of taxpayers money by the nit-picking bureaucrats of FEMA.
FEMA said that as of Aug. 8, it had a total work force of 20,287, up from 8,388 on Sept. 22, 2001.There are 2400 full time administrators located in Washington,DC . R David Paulison is the Chief Administrator.
Most of the increase – 9,346 – came from disaster medical assistance teams transferred from the Health and Human Services Department. FEMA’s full time staff rose to 2,400 from 2,132.
Congress has approved more than $62 billion in supplemental spending for the recovery and rebuilding of Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. More such spending is certain to help people recover from Katrina and the follow-up punch of Hurricane Rita.
The Katrina response alone amounted to more than 11 times FEMA’s 2005 budget of $5.5 billion. That budget was higher than usual because of cleanup costs due to four major hurricanes that hit Florida last year.
FEMA has borne the brunt of criticism about the Bush administration’s lagging response to Katrina. The agency’s director, Michael Brown, was removed from on-site command and resigned.
Another example of “turf” protection was related by an attorney from Jefferson Parrish, La. He relates that a group of approximately 1,000 citizens pulling 500 boats left the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette the morning of 9/17,2005 (Weds.), and headed to New Orleans with a police escort from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department. The “flotilla” of trucks pulling boats stretched over five miles. This citizen rescue group was organized by La. State Senator, Gautreaux from Vermilion Parish. . . .
The State Police waved the flotilla of trucks/boats through the barricades in LaPlace and they sped into New Orleans via I-10 until past the airport and near the Clearview exit. At that time they were stopped by agents of the La. Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries. A DWF agent looked at the boats and told approximately half of the citizens that their boats were “too large” because the water had “dropped during the night” and that they should turn around and go home. . . .many people drowned because of this type of bureaucratic snafu!
My intent is not to join sides with Leftists sites like MoveOn.org and the Daily Kos in piling on FEMA for their response to Katrina. My intent is to point out the problems spun out of control. Large and small Government agencies have bureaucratic rules, policies and regulations that make them much more difficult to administer than business in the private sector.
Despite this fact we have most of the Democrats running for the nomination of their party for the Presidency, advocating an increase in the size and scope of the Federal Government.
Socialized Medicine, expanded college aid, welfare expansion, Amnesty for illegals, universal free kindergarten for every single four-year-old, to name but a few.
Do we really want this?