Facts don’t support the spin

Bush_barbour_1

Almost from the start the spin to sheild Bush from the Katrina debacle was Democratic Louisiana particularly Gov. Blanco has screwed up while Mississippi’s Republican Governor Haley Barbour was doing great. Here is the Washington Times in September 2005 as an example…

While neighboring Louisiana under Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux
Blanco continues to be entangled in post-Katrina political wrangling,
Mississippi appears on a faster track to recovery — partly due to Mr.
Barbour’s experience as a high-powered Washington dealmaker.

That spin has continued over the past 500+ days from various sources ranging from Bush chiding Louisiana for not having a plan to Jonah Pantload claiming that in Mississippi the “reconstruction there is going gangbusters.”

However today The Mississippi Press reports it obtained a HUD report citing numerous problems with the state of Mississippi’s managment of their homeowner’s grant program which has slowed progress…

GAUTIER — Although Gov. Haley Barbour at the time blamed
federal audits for slowing the Homeowner Grant Program, a
review of the program by U.S. Housing and Urban Development
officials in August 2006 found numerous problems with the
way the state was managing the $3 billion program.

In the review, obtained by The Mississippi Press through a
public records request, HUD officials cited low damage
assessments with no follow-up visits, a lack of skill and
knowledge by some Mississippi Development Authority
employees operating the program and travel expenses incurred
by Reznick, the company hired to administer it.

SNIP

HUD’s critique of the state’ damage assessments
mirrored the concerns of some grant applicants who blasted
the estimates in interviews with The Mississippi Press last
September. The amount of damage calculated by Allied
American Adjusting determined how much grant money an
applicant would receive.

Damage estimates in two Jackson County neighborhoods ranged
from 10 percent to 82 percent, even though residents said
Katrina flooded their homes with the same amount of water.

SNIP

HUD officials wrote that even though the state was supposed
to monitor the situation, “we found that there has been
no monitoring or follow-up with Allied on their
assessments.”
SNIP

The state’s management of the Homeowner Grant Program
also caused concern among HUD officials.

MDA Director of Disaster Recovery Donna Sanford, who served
as the Controller and acting Administrator of the grant
program at the time, had “an inappropriate level of
responsibility,” HUD officials wrote.

Sanford, according to the report, was the primary source
for all information, and her staff “lacked sufficient
skill-set and knowledge base required to manage the
magnitude of the Homeowner Assistance Program.”

SNIP

HUD officials also questioned travel expenses incurred by
Reznick, the company hired to administer the grant program.

Reznick’s travel claims “lacked the detail
necessary to ensure costs were allowable under the
award,” HUD officials wrote. “Information was
lacking for the name of the traveler, destination, reason
for travel and other crucial information, to ensure the
allowability of the travel.”

The people of Mississippi deserve facts and truth not spin which ultimately comes at their expense as well as LA. It is not a matter of Mississippi is better than Louisiana. The comparison is apples and oranges. In the case of housing programs, Louisiana is administering a program more than twice the size…$7.5B with 89Kapplicants compared $3B with 10,000 people expected to qualify for Phase II of MS’ program.

Facts are that in both states progress is painfully slow and the process is seriously flawed. Haley Barbour may go to Iowa and claim the recovery stage is through in MS and wingnuts may continue to point to so called superior progress in MS to absolve Bush’s failings but it is just not valid nor true.

–scout