Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Funds Egregiously Mis-Appropriated 

Brownie? When it came to doing a heck of a job, you were not alone:
A FEMA employee bought over 2,000 sets of canine booties at a cost exceeding $68,000. The booties were designed to protect the paws of dogs helping investigators go through rubble and debris left by Hurricane Katrina.

But there was one problem. Dogs in the gulf region were "not accustomed to wearing booties" so the supply of dog clothes went unused, and GAO says the booties now sit in FEMA storage facilities.
We are reliably told that the government's canine footgear went undistributed mainly because the majority of rescue dogs refused to sign promissory notes pledging to repay its cost.

Other Katrina-related expenditures by employees of government agencies (from the same article): Does it seem we're taking FEMA unduly to task? That is certainly not our intent. Our august colleague Rorschach of No Capital informs us that when a real emergency arises, the good folks of FEMA are johnny-on-the-spot:
Residents of trailer parks set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house hurricane victims in Louisiana aren't allowed to talk to the press without an official escort, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

In one instance, a security guard ordered an Advocate reporter out of a trailer during an interview in Morgan City. Similar FEMA rules were enforced in Davant, in Plaquemines Parish.

FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Rodi wouldn't say whether the security guards' actions complied with FEMA policy, saying the matter was being reviewed. But she confirmed that FEMA does not allow the news media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.

"If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview," Rodi told the newspaper for its July 15 report. "That's just a policy."
Lose Your Home, Lose Your Rights, as Rorschach puts it. But then Morgan City, Davant, and Plaquemines Parish are well outside of our government's official First Amendment Zone, the exact coordinates of which are as carefully guarded as those of Dick Cheney's underground bunker.

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention:
Officials in Morgan City estimate that FEMA has spent about $7.5 million to build the trailer park but that only about 15 of the 198 trailers are being used.

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