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Friday, September 23, 2005

Editorials - The Lafayette Daily Advertiser - Tancredo Plays Dirty Politics

Editorials - The Lafayette Daily Advertiser - www.theadvertiser.com: "Tancredo attack on Louisiana reeks of political motivation

In an editorial calling for strong safeguards to assure effective and honest use of federal funds to recover from Katrina's damage, we mentioned that U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., doesn't want our state and local officials handling any federal money at all. "Given the long history of public corruption in Louisiana," he said, "I hope the House will refrain from directly appropriating any funds . . . to either the state of Louisiana or the City of New Orleans."

There was too little space to address Tancredo's comments in the previous editorial, but they cannot be ignored. If the Colorado congressman and potential candidate for president is not playing politics, he is into something that smells much the same. He says Louisiana officials are too corrupt to handle federal funds, yet he has no problem with money flowing into the hands of Mississippi officials. Granted, Louisiana is ranked as the third most corrupt state in the nation. Mississippi, however, is Big Number One - the most corrupt of all the states, according to The Corporate Crime Reporter. Tancredo conveniently overlooked that.

The congressman says keep the money in federal hands, not only because of the corruption but because Louisiana and local officials were incompetent in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

Federal officials were not?

FEMA performed so ineptly that the director was removed and the president acknowledged the federal failure.

Here are a few examples of federal incompetence that Tancredo missed. More than 50 civilian aircraft swarmed to the area a day after Katrina hit, but FEMA blocked their efforts. In advance of the storm, New Mexico offered hundreds of National Guard troops, but federal red tape and paperwork delayed their arrival until Friday.

Hundreds of firefighters responded. They were sent by FEMA, not to New Orleans, but to Atlanta for days of training in community relations and sexual harassment.

Tancredo says agencies that showed incompetence should not be allowed to handle federal funds. Extend that to its logical conclusion and he would have to advocate keeping it out of federal hands also.

As for corruption, Tancredo may not have received word that David H. Safavian, a White House procurement official involved until about a week ago in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, has been arrested in a corruption probe, albeit unrelated to the storm.

Again, we urge strong state safeguards over the Katrina relief funds, more transparency in state spending and appointment of independent analysts to watch the money. It is our chance to change a persistently bad state image.

Tancredo, however, was obviously digging in the storm's wreckage for a strong issue that would raise his visibility and boost his chances in a presidential campaign. What he came up with is as deficient in logic as it is replete with hypocrisy."