Eye Opener: Obama Administration and Katrina
Happy Monday! Four years ago today New Orleans "resembled a warzone" as it continued the cleanup and evacuations following Hurricane Katrina. This past weekend, President Obama devoted his radio and Internet address to the ongoing recovery efforts.
Though his remarks lacked specifics, but Obama said he will not tolerate "red tape that stands in the way of progress, or the waste that can drive up the bill. Government must be a partner -- not an opponent -- in getting things done."
Obama said he will visit New Orleans later this year to assess the progress. Last week he earned praise from Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) for what he called a more practical and flexible approach.
During last year's campaign, Obama cited the Bush administration's handling of the Katrina aftermath as one of its failures and vowed to avoid similar mistakes as president. Part of his approach includes sending administration officials to the region regularly, with already 30 visits completed by 11 Cabinet secretaries and other senior administration officials. There've been 20 visits to Louisiana, four to Mississippi, three to Alabama and three to Houston, where many New Orleans residents went after the storm. Not surprisingly, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan have visited most often to assess recovery and rebuilding projects operated bytheir departments. Here's the full list, including dates and locations (Note: Not all of the viists were directly tied to Katrina-related efforts):
March 5-6: FEMA Administrator-Designee Craig Fugate in New Orleans
March 6: Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano in New Orleans
March 6: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in New Orleans
March 6: Napolitano in Biloxi, Miss.
March 6: Donovan in Houston
March 12-13: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Houston
March 18-19: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in New Orleans
March 20: Education Secretary Arne Duncan in New Orleans
March 27: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Houston
April 8: Salazar in New Orleans
April 14: Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Fort Rucker, Ala.
May 10: Donovan in Birmingham, Ala.
June 14-15: Fugate in New Orleans and Baton Rouge
June 22: Donovan in New Orleans
June 30: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in New Orleans
June 30: SBA Administrator Karen Mills in New Orleans
June 30: President and Chairman of Export-Import Bank of the U.S. Fred Hochberg in New Orleans
July 6: Donovan in Birmingham, Ala.
July 19: Napolitano in Biloxi, Miss.
July 19: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Biloxi, Miss.
July 19: Fugate in Biloxi, Miss.
July 20: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in Reserve, La.
July 20: Sebelius in Reserve, La.
July 20: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Reserve, La.
July 20: Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in Reserve, La.
July 22: HRSA Director Mary Wakefield in Baton Rouge, LA
July 27-30: Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry in New Orleans
July 27-30: VA Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John U. Sepúlveda in New Orleans
August 4: HHS Director of the Office of Women’s Health Dr. Wanda Jones in New Orleans
August 11: Shinseki in New Orleans
What do you think of the Obama administration's recovery efforts thus far? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Supreme Court to revisit "Hillary: The Movie." Kathleen Sebelius says "no one really" has an immunity to swine flu. SBA Administration Karen Mills says (shocker!) the stimulus is helping... small businesses.
• 'Pulling a Sickie' in the UK: A British study finds that absenteeism is down in the workplace amid recession-driven job loss fears. "There was a clear gap between the private sector, where absenteeism levels are falling sharply, and the public sector. On average, private sector employees take 6.4 days off a year compared with 9.7 days in the public sector." Do you know if it's the same in the USA? Leave thoughts in the comments section below or E-mail The Eye.
• Interrogations Probe Political, Cheney Says: The former vice president accused President Obama of setting a "terrible precedent" by allowing an "intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration."
• It's Never a Quick Fix at the CIA: One writer has learned that high-profile investigations will not transform human nature, turning intelligence officials -- or the presidents and White House aides who direct them -- into angels, unsusceptible to zeal and folly.
• Ex-Intelligence Officials Cite Low Spirits at CIA: The former third-ranking official at the agency says "Morale at the agency is down to minus 50."
• Ignoring Your Census Form Is a Pretty Costly Decision: The Post's Michelle Singletary writes that "...for those who are still inclined to ignore the decennial count for whatever personal reason or history or preposterous political agenda...I want to appeal to your pocketbook."
• Southwest Presents Dilemma for FAA: Should the agency force the airline to ground the planes to enforce longstanding air-safety rules, even though the violations don't pose an immediate danger?
• Smoking in The Military: An Old Habit Dies Hard: A proposal to make the forces smoke-free is drawing strong reactions from troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the Pentagon itself says any ban is a long way off.
• Report: Defense Review Should Set Energy Reduction Targets: Brookings scholars note that DOD consumes more energy in the course of its daily operations than any other single entity and more than 100 nations.
• High-Tech Plans to Change Airplane Traffic: FAA's plans to revamp air traffic include new technology that steers it on autopilot along a smoothly descending, satellite-guided path, avoiding the stair-step approach and constant interplay with air traffic controllers now required to bring in planes.
| August 31, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Administration, Eye Opener
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