Monday, September 26, 2005

Following The Money Trail

Following The Money Trail

“The first detailed tally of commitments from federal agencies since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast four weeks ago shows that more than 15 contracts exceed $100 million, including 5 of $500 million or more. Most of those were for clearing away the trees, homes and cars strewn across the region; purchasing trailers and mobile homes; or providing trucks, ships, buses and planes. More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse. Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.”- Eric Lipton and Ron Nixon New York Times 09-26-05

Human beings are creatures of habit. Habits are attitudes, emotions, behaviors and ways of responding to circumstances and situations we have done over and over in the past to the point we react automatically without even conscious thought about how to react. On an individual or personal level habits are called patterns, on a family or group level they are called folkways, mores, customs, traditions and on the larger societal level they are called culture. Once you discern a person’s or groups habitual behavioral patterns you can accurately predict their current and future behaviors. In fact if you are really clever based on your knowledge of their habits yo can manipulate them to do what you want them to do! Looking at the Bu$h crime family you can see clearly discernable patterns of psychopathy, corruption and cronyism that are unfolding even as you read this in the clean up operations for Hurricane Katrina. The New York Times reported in today’s edition there are growing concerns much of the work and money going to clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is going to close friends and allies of Republicans in general and the Bu$h cabal in particular. Why should we be shocked that most of the contracts have been awarded through no bid or low competition? You could say time is of the essence and the work needs to be done as soon as possible and these contractors have the expertise, so what’s the big deal? Well the big deal is there is an appearance of impropriety and a very real lack of fiduciary oversight. According to the Times article, “Some businesses awarded large contracts have long records of performing similar work, but they also have had some problems. CH2M Hill and the Fluor Corporation, two global engineering companies awarded a total of $250 million in contracts, were previously cited by regulators for safety violations at a weapons plant cleanup. The Bechtel Corporation, awarded a contract that could be worth $100 million, is under scrutiny for its oversight of the 'Big Dig' construction project in Boston. And Kellogg, Brown & Root, which was given $60 million in contracts, was rebuked by federal auditors for unsubstantiated billing from the Iraq reconstruction and criticized for bills like $100-per-bag laundry service. All of the companies have publicly defended their performance.” What we will see especially when you consider the Bu$h family pattern of corruption and fraud ala the massive nation wide Savings and Loan Scandal that Jeb, Neil and George H.W Bu$h profited from and when we understand the notoriously rampant patterns of Department of Defense and HUD fraud and money laundering will be more taxpayer rip offs, price fixing and gouging, out and out fraud and theft. The cronyism and good ol’ boy network will reap billions. The Times quotes Bennie Thompson a Mississippi Congressman who complained about the rampant cronyism he sees already. “‘There is just more of the good-old-boy system, taking care of its political allies,’ Mr. Thompson said. ‘FEMA and the others have put out these contracts in such a haphazard manner, I don't know how they can come up with anything that is accountable to the taxpayers.’”. That’s their pattern: steal and loot the public coffers with no oversight or accountability. If you get caught, you just cover it up because for the most part the media plays the game by the crooks’ rules. To get an idea of how big a boondoggle or profit making venture this could turn out to be, one company got rid of its total leftover 2005 inventory of mobile homes, “FEMA has led the effort to line up contractors to install tens of thousand of temporary homes. The scale of the job is still unclear - depending on demand, FEMA may downsize its plans - but the agency has been rushing to buy as many travel trailers and mobile homes as it can. It has signed five contracts each worth more than $100 million with major manufacturers. And it has scoured the country, buying up whatever it can find on dealers' lots. That has turned into a bonanza for businesses like Wagner's RV Center in Suamico, Wis., which sold 69 trailers to FEMA for $1.3 million. ‘In a single sale, we cleared out most of our leftover inventory from the 2005 model year,’ said Leonard Wagner, the owner of the RV center. ‘That does not happen very often.’”. The clean up and relocation have to be done. However, the victims and taxpayers deserve an honest effort, not another opportunity to be ripped off. The work has to be done but the habit (patterns) of the Bu$h crime family and their cohorts are to find ways to engage in out and out fraud when doing business with the government. Worse, they often manipulate the situation and circumstances or they have inside information or foreknowledge. This is the petri dish that spawned the corruption fraud and abuse we’ve witnessed in the past.

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