Friday, September 09, 2005

From the Jeff Gannon school of journalism, Democratic comestibles to chew on.

BUSH'S FEMA TURNS NATURAL DISASTER INTO BUREAUCRATIC DISASTER

FEMA Urged First Responders Not To Respond To Hurricane Areas. While the situation in New Orleans became increasingly worse, FEMA issued a press release urging all fire and emergency services departments not to respond to counties and states affected by Hurricane Katrina without being requested and lawfully dispatched by state and local authorities. [FEMA Press Release, 8/29/05, http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470]

FEMA Refuses to Ship Trailers to Mississippi To Help With Relief Efforts. "Senator Trent Lott called on President Bush to authorize the immediate release of 20,000 trailers sitting idle in Atlanta. Lott said FEMA has refused to ship the trailers because of red tape and paperwork." [CNN, 9/6/05]

FEMA Would Not Let Red Cross Deliver Food to New Orleans. As the National Guard delivered food to the New Orleans convention center, American Red Cross officials said that FEMA authorities would not allow them to do the same. "The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross. [Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 9/4/05]

FEMA Refused Amtrak's Offer Of Trains To Evacuate Victims. "Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency of 'dragging its feet' when Amtrak offered trains to evacuate victims. 'Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency,' she said." [Financial Times, 9/5/05]

Bush Buried FEMA "BENEATH A MASSIVE BUREAUCRACY"

Bureaucratic Reconfigurations Have Stripped FEMA Of Its Focus. When FEMA was folded into the Department of Homeland Security, it became part of the new department's prime focus on terrorism, not winds or floods. The result has been shakeups and reconfigurations that have left the old agency stripped of many of its funding programs and some of its money, prompting cries of protest from emergency managers across the country. [Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 8/16/04]

Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt: Extra Bureaucracy Hindered FEMA's Success. Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt shared his concerns with the House Government Reform Committee in 2004: "We are greatly concerned that the successful partnership that was built between local/state/federal partners and their ability to communicate, coordinate, train, prepare, and respond has been sharply eroded. Second, FEMA... is being buried beneath a massive bureaucracy whose main and seemingly only focus is fighting terrorism while an all hazards mission is getting lost in the shuffle. I firmly believe that FEMA should be extracted from the DHS bureaucracy and re-establish it as an independent agency reporting directly to the President... Third, the FEMA Director has lost Cabinet status and along with it the close relationship to the President and Cabinet Affairs." [House Government Reform Committee, 3/24/04]

BUSH Cut FEMA'S Disaster Relief Funds

Disaster Mitigation Programs Slashed Since 2001. Since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created by the Clinton Administration, has been canceled outright. Federal funding of post-disaster mitigation efforts designed to protect people and property from the next disaster has been cut in half, and now communities across the country must compete for pre-disaster mitigation dollars. [Baltimore City Paper, 9/29/04]

Bush Continuing To Propose Cuts To Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers will be cut in 2006. Bush's 2005 budget proposal called for a 13 percent reduction in the Army Corps of Engineers budget, down to $4 billion from $4.6 billion in fiscal 2004. [Associated Press, 2/6/05; Congressional Quarterly Online, 2/3/04]

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