Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Real National Disaster

It is obscene. The leaders in Washington and their mealy-mouthed toadies and spin-doctors/lobbyists fitfully try and hide the horrendous failures of the Federal response to the disaster in the Gulf Coast. It reveals a systemic failure, from the Congress who blithely appointed a former Bush campaign worker to head FEMA to yet another round of corporate gorging at taxpayer expense.

Facing South notes the reports on massive mismanagement of FEMA, prior to the Katrina disaster. FEMA lawyers are now refusing to make public documentation about he millions of dollars given out in Florida alone. Florida's Sun-Sentinel investigation into allegations about FEMA are simply shocking.

The wagons now circled around these failures sounding a cry of blame for the Mayor of New Orleans and the Louisiana Governor is idiotic at best.

And speaking of the hollow noises, Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist could not appear more out of touch given his recent statements that "The investment at the federal level will be huge, but it will even be larger by several fold by the private sector, adding "Tax incentives for businesses and lowered regulatory burdens for builders will be key to the recovery."

Oh, does he mean the billions spent on no-bid contracts to the vice-president's company, Halliburton?

Maybe he means the mismanagement and goldrush mentality overwhelming the Gulf Coast.

Maybe he was thinking of the tax-breaks for the Fluor Corporation, which, in 1994, Fluor paid a $3.2 million fine for "submitting heavily padded repair bills for work on Navy bases after hurricane Hugo. And according to this press report::
While Fluor bills itself as an "environmental services company" environmentalists might differ. Fluor manages the government's Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, one of the most heavily polluted sites in North America. Since Fluor took over the site in the mid-1990s, workers and local citizens have charged the company with cost cutting measures that have created potential environmental and health concerns. The company responded by firing whistleblowers and shutting down the Hanford Joint Council, a public forum established eight years ago to air employee and local government concerns over plant safety. (Ref: Gov. Accountability Project)
Noteworthy: On March 10 of this year, the United States Supreme Court rebuffed an effort by Fluor to block a suit by eleven Hanford pipe fitters who claimed they were either terminated or harassed for complaining about safety issues. The pipe fitters worked at the high-level nuclear waste tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Site.
Fluor's Hanford contract was set to expire at the end of 2001 but the Department of Energy has extended Fluor Hanford's contract through 2006. The six-year contract is worth approximately $3.8 billion, with incentives for Fluor to earn up to about $168 million in profit.

Tip of the hat to Facing South for much of the info cited here.

And Sen. Frist, we know your plan is for the taxpayers to get the shaft again. I guess he hasn't noticed the millions and millions of dollars Americans have BEEN donating and the tens of thousands of volunteers who are also on the scene lending any help they can. It's this Spirit of America that Washington needs to model.

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