Friday, January 19, 2007

Thoughts on the $595 Million Question

Thanks to Alan for bringing this to folks' attention.

U.S. Homeland Security says we blew off a buttload of money because we didn't request it.

It's quite an incendiary move for the feds to call a press conference to discredit local government. I'll be the last one fighting to join Nagin's fan club, but this article mentioned some things that make me question DHS's statements. Of course, I could be wrong, but these are my thoughts:

1. I recall that as recently as November-ish the contractor FEMA had handling reimbursement requests had to go back and recalculate their figures because their reimbursement amounts were too low. (Wish I could find a link to that.) So, I wonder WHEN did New Orleans get 96% of the available $311 million?

2. The article states: "Once the proper documentation is submitted, the money is available for replacing city property..." Making money available for something and actually using it for that purpose are two different things. Of course the money was "available" because Congress had to approve its allocation before it could have been offered to us.

3. Then there's the part about the City not only missing out on "available" money but having to actually give money back (the $1.7 million in interest made off of $102 million dollars in federal money held by the City last year). Why is this even a point DHS would make if we were not supposed to have the $1.7million in the first place since you can't collect interest off of federal money? Clearly, that was not money set aside for recovery anyway. And please, $1.7million? What would that fix, like two Popeye's and a snowball stand?

All that said, the reimbursement process to a regular citizen like me has always seemed esoteric and shrouded in mystery, so the City's role in using and acquiring funds needs to be looked at -- like right away. And what the fuck is Nagin doing in NYC, again? Must be nice to get away from your problems.

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