A Liberal Solution: FEMA Is Dysfunctional, So Let's Make It Bigger
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Don't look now, but the liberals -- Republican and Democrat alike -- in congress are grabbing more power for themselves while at the same time creating a whole new federal bureaucracy. Americans will rue the day it was created when they see their communities under the control of federal bureaucrats and agencies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was so ineffective and mismanaged during Hurricane Katrina that it should be totally dismantled and replaced with a new disaster response agency, according to a draft of a Senate report that will be presented to its Homeland Security Committee headed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) -- both of whom are typical Northeast liberals.
They believe the new agency, which would still be part of the Department of Homeland Security, should be more powerful, with additional components that would give it a budget twice as big as FEMA's, the report recommends. When faced with a problem, liberals will always throw money at it. Afterall, it's not their money, it's our cash being spent on this proposed super-agency.
What a shock! A government agency is dysfunctional and inefficient. So what do our leaders propose? Make the agency even bigger and unmanageable. FEMA screwed the pooch during Hurricane Katrina? Well, let's create an agency that will make gargantuan mistakes. State and local governments corrupt and dysfunctional? No problem. The feds will take over in the event of an emergency.
Separately, an upcoming report by the Government Accountability Office says that FEMA is destined to repeat million-dollar mistakes of disaster aid waste and fraud unless it can quickly establish controls for verifying names and addresses of recipients. It was discovered during the aftermath of Katrina that persons collecting emergency stipends were defrauding the government.
Under the Senate report's recommendations, the new disaster response agency would assume functions now spread throughout the department, such as preparing for disasters or terrorist attacks, protecting the nation's infrastructure, and distributing grants to state and local governments. I can see it know -- give more money to Louisiana's governor and New Orleans' mayor in the most corrupt state in the country. That'll certainly save lives.
During major catastrophes like Katrina, the agency's director would report directly to the president, in the same fashion as the chairman of the Defense Department's Joint Chiefs of Staff. The current FEMA has a budget of $4.8 billion, and a staff of about 6,000 employees. Although Lieberman and Collins made no mention -- during their mutual admiration session masquerading as a press conference -- of the budget for a new agency, it's safe to assume it will be billions more of taxpayer money doled out like confetti on New Year's Eve.
Sen. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the new agency would be "better equipped with the tools to prepare for and respond to a disaster." The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, also endorsed creation of what would be called the National Preparedness and Response Authority. But the full committee has not yet debated or voted on the draft recommendations.
The report also has not yet been shared with the Bush administration. But officials at Homeland Security said that from what they have already heard, they were not impressed.
"It is time to stop rearranging organization charts and start focusing on how governments at all levels are preparing for the fast-approaching storm season," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in response to the Collins-Lieberman.
Since Katrina hit, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been working on his own alternative to the agency's current structure, which he has described as "retooling" FEMA. But he has not called for major structural changes.
There is still hope for conservatives: once legislation is proposed to create this new super-agency, clear-thinking congressmen and senators will deep-six it. Hopefully the legislation will come before them after the November elections. It's always a bad time to propose new bureaucracies at a time when Republicans move to the left, and Democrats move to the right.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.