Saturday, November 26, 2005

Well it seems that some Mississippi officials are trying to blame Louisiana for their problems getting federal funds for bridge repairs. From The Times Picayune:

Brown blames delays by President Bush and Congress in funding Katrina highway reconstruction, at least in part, on Louisiana's requests for astronomical amounts....Gov. Haley Barbour has voiced the same opinion about Louisiana's initial requests for $250 million in federal Katrina relief.

"In my opinion, Louisiana's request has spooked the president, Congress and the Federal Highway Administration," Brown said

It could be that Wayne Brown (Mississippi's Southern District Transportation Commissioner) is following the party line that aid requests by Louisiana must be attacked at any opportunity, or it could be that criticism at home has prompted some CYA behavior on Brown's part:

Brown's announcement, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday when the news media cannot easily find public officials, has the feel of an intentional decision to sidestep the impact of his news. His announcement was timed when most Coast residents are busy preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday and not paying attention to the news. Brown surely should have know for weeks that he didn't have the money. In his interview on WLOX TV, Brown speculated that the bids might go out in January. But his performance so far suggests that he was only speculating since no specific date was mentioned, nor asked for by the WLOX reporter. And if Brown did not know about his agency's finances until Wednesday, then it suggests a serious management failure.....

Brown and MDOT in general have been widely criticized for months for being monolithic and unresponsive to the public and to the road needs of the Coast...

The bridges and roads are the arteries of the Coast's economy, and at this time, when the Coast is suffering the most, Brown's management of a serious crisis is becoming more like a heart attack

Whatever the reason,it's simply wrong for Wayne Brown (Mississippi's Southern District Transportation Commissioner) to blame Louisiana for Mississippi's difficulty getting federal funding for bridge repair. It's simply inexcusable to single out La.'s aid requests while ignoring the cost of Iraq, the insistence on eliminating the inheritance tax and even the congress' willingness to spend money on bridges to nowhere (the money went from being earmarked for bridges to being a no strings attached check, some difference)for the shortage of federal funds.

However, it wouldn't be too cynical to note that the administration's commitment to reconstruction spending started to shrink at the same time as the awarding of no-bid contracts came under fire. If there is a connection, it might be correct to blame some Louisiana officials for the tightening of the federal purse strings. Of course, there are some Mississippi officials that Mr. Brown might want to blame as well.

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