Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Not Much Chance of This Happening

I generally don't bother to read blogs written as part of the main stream media's on line sites. Generally, they aren't worth the effort. On occasion, however, I do make a foray into the NY Times editorial writers' blog, "The Board." Most of the time I discover that it was indeed not worth the effort, but today was at least a little more fruitful.

The topic of the latest entry is Alphonso Jackson, current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I've posted on some of Mr. Jackson's questionable actions in the past, including the fact that the FBI was investigating him for rewarding developer friends as part of the post-Katrina clean-up. Today, "The Board" provided a nice summary of those actions, and some of the others he has engaged in since getting his swell appointment.

Alphonso Jackson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, shocked an audience of business leaders two years ago when he told of denying a government contract solely because the head of the bidding company spoke ill of President Bush. ...

Funny thing: now Mr. Jackson stands accused of just these sorts of shenanigans. Specifically, he is the subject of investigations by Congress into allegations that he rewarded developer friends and abused political enemies in doling out taxpayers’ funds. ...

Mr. Jackson is accused of channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to friends in the housing industry in the Virgin Islands and to others in the lucrative post-Katrina cleanup in New Orleans.

Senior HUD officials have complained that Mr. Jackson instructed them to take into account political ties when making contract awards. He denies it.

Mr. Jackson also denies Philadelphia housing officials’ charge that their city was punished after their housing commissioner refused demands to turn over $2 million worth of public land to a friend of Mr. Jackson, according to local newspapers.

Now, my first thought while reading this at 3:30 AM (PDT) was "Heh, old news." After another gallon of coffee throughout the day, I realized that this was actually a very timely reprise of some important news. Right now, one of the hottest stories has to do with the mortgage bubble bursting, people losing their homes, and developers backing off on housing projects because loans are getting harder to come by. This Jackson guy was head of Housing and Urban Development. This is when he's supposed to be working with his counterparts in other agencies to try to come up with some solutions (or, at the very least, some bandaids) for what will soon be some critical problems with respect to housing in general, and affordable housing in specific.

And he's doing what? Not much, apparently, which is understandable since he's facing investigations into some pretty serious charges. He's been hauled into congressional hearings and performed sufficiently abominably that Sen. Patty Murray (D- Washington) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) have written to the President urging that he demand Mr. Jackson's resignation. I suspect that both senators have been greeted by the sound of crickets.

And that is just one example of why this period of time is so dangerous. President Bush, like his HUD Secretary, is otherwise engaged. It's the last nine months of his reign (FSM-willing) and he has a legacy to burnish, and that legacy is tied up in Iraq. Democrats have a flat-out nasty nomination campaign on their hands, so it doesn't appear that many of them are paying attention to the really serious problems that are emerging nationally both on the domestic and the foreign fronts.

And that is where the free press and the citizenry come in.

So, I have to admit that "The Board" was worth a visit today. Now, if they just keep it up, not only on "The Board," but also on the front page and on the editorial page.

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