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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Katrina waste would be forgivable if effort had been effective

The news that $1 billion in waste is just the surface of the irresponsible spending associated with Hurricane Katrina relief would be excusable if the effort had been effective.

But, as everyone knows by now, the relief effort was anything but.

Next month, federal investigators will release the first of several audits examining abuse in more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. Critics’ charges include political favoritism in awarding and then extending no-bid contracts to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms.

One might understand the waste of taxpayer dollars if the relief effort had been effective in helping individuals and businesses recover quickly from the devastation caused by the Aug. 29, 2005, storm that ravaged the Gulf Coast. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was obviously unprepared for the disaster. It admittedly should have pre-negotiated contracts for basic supplies and services. But it did not, and awarded no-bid contracts — with hundreds of millions of dollars going to politically connected companies — with the justification that the relief effort required an immediate response.

If the response had been effective, we could excuse the expense.

Instead, the relief effort was not only wasteful but also inadequate.

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