Friday, September 23, 2005

Swift-boating the mayor

This is the picture the right-wing is gleefully using to deflect attention from the incompetance of FEMA. Ostensibly, it proves that Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin missed the chance to get more people out before the Katrina hit his city. But that's silly.

The picture doesn't tell us that fuel and experienced drivers were available. It doesn't show us that the Mayor had any way of notifying residents or getting them to departure points; also, were there facilities within a reasonable driving distance capable of providing shelter and other provisions? When you think about it, there's no guarantee, even, that the buses were in working condition. As TNR puts it:
The elected school board is independent from other city agencies, and the system is in dreadful shape, academically and financially. After the system couldn't account for $70 million in federal grants, the state forced the board to hire a private financial manager this summer to sort out the mess. That company couldn't find any reliable records of how many people actually worked for the system, and it reported that the board's latest and supposedly balanced budget was really $48 million in the hole. The incompetence raises an obvious question: If the mayor had sought help from this crew, would that have saved lives or merely wasted precious time?