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What the WaPo isn't telling you about multilevel contracting

The WaPo reports on the many sub and sub-sub contractors required to perform contracts in "Multiple Layers Of Contractors Drive Up Cost of Katrina Cleanup". One example they present is that of the FEMA buses.
Now, here's what the WaPo isn't telling you. In the article, they refer to "Spanish-speaking crews" doing roofing work. That's the WaPo's euphemism for "federal money is going to those who have an 80% chance of being illegal aliens".
By using multiple layers of subcontractors, prime contractors are able to employ illegal aliens with an even greater deal of impunity than they would if they employed them directly.
The trickle-down contracting is bad enough, but what makes it even worse is that many of the jobs were given to those here illegally rather than to American hurricane victims.
The Washington Post supported illegal aliens taking rebuilding jobs from American hurricane victims, so it's understandable that they would want to avoid discussing this side of things.

ACE screwed on blue tarp contracts

Way back in September, we offered "Is FEMA overpaying for roofing?".
Now, months later, NOLA has looked into this, specifically the ACE angle. A snippet:

Though Army Corps of Engineers officials say they did not overpay for the tens of thousands of blue roofs [temporary tarps] across the Gulf Coast, a review of their documents shows that a company required to compete for its contract did the work for half of what others charged...
...Although [Archie Ringgenberg, a contracting official in the Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis office] said it may be a long time before the paperwork on the blue roof program is complete, the spending on it already has been so vast it appears many federal officials are unable to keep track of it. In an interview earlier this month in Baton Rouge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's top coordinating officer in Louisiana and a corps contracting official both said they were certain Shaw was paid around $1 a yard and $100 a square -- an estimate off by 75 percent. did not look into how many of those hired to install the roofs were illegal aliens rather than, oh, just as an example, American hurricane victims.

Kathleen Blanco's $500,000 remodeling job

Late last year came the news that Kathleen Blanco had ordered precisely $564,838 worth of remodeling done on her offices... after Katrina.

The article said the single costliest portion of the final bill was $44,000 for walnut trim and granite countertops.
Jerry Jones, director of the state Office of Facility Planning and Control, said the sixth floor was unsafe. File cabinets were in hallways and the carpet was frayed, he said.
"The space needed to be reconfigured," Jones said Tuesday. "We don't want the governor's suite to look like early manufactured homes."
I'd bet the folks who can't even get a FEMA trailer wouldn't mind having an "early manufactured" home!

NOPD phantom cops: real or fiction?

Snopes says this claim is false:

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin created a phantom force of 700 "virtual policemen."

WaPo on NO's history of poverty and corruption

From this:

Huge stretches of the city are fallow: no power, no water, no sewer system, no life. Half the city workforce has been laid off, not a single public school is open, and the police department is being run by an acting chief after its former head quit. Mayor C. Ray Nagin is forced to hold town hall meetings in Baton Rouge, 70 miles away.
The litany of problems faced by New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is unmatched by any other U.S. city in recent history. Billions of dollars in public and private funds are going to be spent on rebuilding New Orleans, but those efforts could be undermined by forces that have long beset the city -- a tradition of corruption and dysfunction and a weak economy that clouded New Orleans's future years before the rains began in August.
"Always broke. Worst school system in the state. Highest crime rate in the nation. Shrinking population. All the corporations have moved out," said Bernie Pinsonat, a political analyst in Baton Rouge. "Any poll I do, the rest of Louisiana thinks, 'New Orleans is a deep, dark hole, and no matter how much money we send, it doesn't seem to get better.' "
...The blue-ribbon commission he appointed to help with reconstruction is rife with internal squabbles, some of them racial, and with fears it could be reduced to irrelevancy because of the state government's own commission and the recent appointment of Donald E. Powell, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., to oversee federal relief work. "We're kind of a work in process," Nagin said during a recent interview...
...In a recent Louisiana State University poll of 419 business executives, corruption was ranked among the worst aspects of doing business in Louisiana. Investors and managers elsewhere are reluctant to come "because they don't want to pay the corruption tax," said Rafael C. Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
"We've seen every type of corruption imaginable," said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, whose office indicted 44 public officials in the past fiscal year alone. He pointed to skimming, bribery and shakedowns across a spectrum of government employment: judges, police, teachers, administrators and traffic court workers...

Levee Board attorney suspended just before discussing Jim Huey

From this:

The Orleans Levee Board's longtime staff attorney was suspended Wednesday just minutes before he was scheduled to offer his analysis of controversial decisions by former agency President Jim Huey to hand no-bid contracts to relatives in the days after Hurricane Katrina and to collect nearly $100,000 in back pay several weeks before the storm.
Gary Benoit, who has pointedly questioned the propriety of Huey's actions, learned of his suspension in the hallway outside the Port of New Orleans auditorium where the board was about to meet.
One of the first items on the board's Legal Committee agenda was supposed to be a presentation by Benoit regarding the failure of Huey, who resigned last month, to consult him on the salary issue or a post-Katrina contract awarded to the son of a board legal consultant.

An un-named fellow employee accuses Benoit of "improper behavior". Interesting timing, no?

"For over 12 years, my civil service record has been exemplary and spotless," [Benoit] said. "Then moments before my participation in a public discussion on matters of importance to the district and to the community, I was summarily suspended. I am totally shocked."

Previously: "AG Foti: fmr. Levee Board president Jim Huey broke law".

AP discovers scandal: illegal aliens getting ripped off

We Americans might consider it a scandal that there are illegal aliens taking rebuilding jobs from American hurricane victims. However, in the alternate universe favored by the Associated Press, it's only a scandal when those illegal aliens are ripped off by corrupt contractors. Few people want people not to be paid, and few people want serf laborers to live and work in unsafe conditions.
Even bright six-year-olds can see the solution: keep illegal aliens from coming to New Orleans. That way, all the problems are solved. If contractors try to rip off a citizen, they'll get sued. If contractors try to get a citizen to clean up rotting seafood without the proper equipment, they'll get sued.
Anyone who supports anything other than that is ideologically corrupt, and perhaps corrupt in a more financial sense as well.
Immigrants often unpaid for Katrina work

A pattern is emerging as the cleanup of Mississippi's Gulf Coast morphs into its multibillion-dollar reconstruction: Come payday, untold numbers of Hispanic immigrant laborers are being stiffed.
Sometimes, the boss simply vanishes. Other workers wait on promises that soon, someone in a complex hierarchy of contractors will provide the funds to pay them.
Nonpayment of wages is a violation of federal labor law, but these workers - thousands of them, channeled into teams that corral debris, swaddle punctured roofs in blue tarps and gut rain-ravaged homes - are especially vulnerable because many are here illegally.
After Katrina hit, Armando Ojeda paid $1,200 to be smuggled across the desert border from Mexico, a walk that took several nights. Talk of $10 an hour - more in a day than he made each week at a computer factory back home - led him to pay another $1,200 to be crammed in van with a dozen other immigrants and driven 1,600 miles, from a safe house in Arizona to Mississippi...

Once again, the AP just doesn't seem to understand these basic principles and ideas. Please send an email to and help them find their lost senses.

"Louisiana politics colorful, extremely corrupt"

From a LSU student columnist:

Throughout Louisiana's modern history, corruption has flourished in state and local government. Some leaders have even celebrated our reputation saying it colors our politics. We may be corrupt, but we're not boring.
Perhaps no one better fit this persona than our four-time elected governor, now jailbird, Edwin Edwards. For years, he survived dozens of corruption investigations and indictments. His last gubernatorial campaign even embraced his less -than-tidy image producing bumper stickers that read "Elect the Crook, It's Important."
...The past two gubernatorial administrations have publicly proclaimed their desire to clean up Louisiana's image, but it is evident that widespread corruption, cronyism and overall dishonesty in office are still the reality in Louisiana...
Shamefully, our two senators used Katrina as an opportunity to treat the federal government as Santa Claus. The $250 billion wish list submitted by Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter was chopped full of pork-barrel projects completely unrelated to Louisiana's recovery needs. Not surprisingly, the national media and congressional leaders blasted the request and are now skeptical of any request from Louisiana's leaders...
...We can only hope that Louisiana voters will finally realize that corruption may add "color" to our politics, but in the end it makes us the folly of the nation.

AG Foti: fmr. Levee Board president Jim Huey broke law

Foti: Levee Board president broke law

A unilateral decision in July by the Orleans Levee Board's then-president, Jim Huey, to pay himself nearly $100,000 in back salary was a clear violation of state law, Attorney General Charles Foti said Thursday in an opinion issued by his staff.
Furthermore, Foti wrote, the $1,000-a-month salary that Huey collected from June through October was illegal because Huey failed to get approval from the board of commissioners.
The opinion, written in response to an Oct. 17 request by state Inspector General Sharon Robinson, does not address whether Huey must repay the money. But the salary matter is expected to be a topic of discussion today when the board holds its monthly meeting.
Huey, who took the helm of the flood control agency in 1996, resigned Thursday.
Huey maintains that he stepped down voluntarily, but sources say Gov. Kathleen Blanco demanded his resignation after criticism of Huey by his fellow board members had mounted in recent weeks. Blanco controls six of the eight seats on the board...

Head of New Orleans' levee board [Jim Huey] quits

From this:

The head of the Orleans Levee Board has quit amid questions about no-bid contracts to his relatives in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
The final days of board president Jim Huey's tenure also had been marred by his collection of nearly $100,000 in back pay several weeks before the storm. Huey had led the board for nine years.
Huey defended the contracts and said he was legally entitled to the back pay...
"I didn't want to leave under these circumstances, but I fell victim to some other folks who don't know what they're talking about and they have to live with themselves," he said.
Huey would not say whom he was referring to.
On Sept. 1, three days after Katrina came ashore, Huey leased 3,000 square feet of office space in Baton Rouge from board legal consultant George Carmouche, a cousin of Huey's wife.
Huey said he authorized the $30,000 contact to ensure that the agency's executive staff would have a place to operate after its lakefront headquarters was decimated by Katrina's storm surge. He said he signed the lease only after state government failed to provide him a base of operation.
About a week later, Huey approved a business arrangement with Carmouche's son, Scott, to coordinate the salvage of boats damaged or destroyed by the hurricane at the board's two marinas. Huey said he was forced to move quickly on the salvage contract because the recovery of boats by insurance companies and owners was threatening to devolve into chaos.

Previously: "Levee Board chief got thousands in back pay" and Money for levees went to Mardi Gras, overpasses, PI, legal fees…


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