Thursday, April 09, 2009

Alphonso Jackson's HUD not good for HANO


Katy Reckdahl has a decent summary of the latest scathing audit from the HUD Inspector General on the utility of the federal receivership of HANO.

I have a copy of the original report, which I can email to you if you contact me. I'm having the hardest time uploading pdfs this week...

Here are the passages that I thought really got to the heart of the matter:


HUD did not properly plan the receivership because it did not perform an initial
assessment of the Authority's condition or continuous assessments after the receiver
took over. In phase 1 of the recovery process, the receiver should have assessed the
Authority's condition, which would have established an inventory of the Authority's
problems. Although there was a February 2002 decision to terminate the
cooperative endeavor agreement and/or execution of the August 2002 memorandum
of agreement, HUD did not provide initial assessments of the Authority's operations
before or after the agreements were executed.

The initial assessment would have provided the details needed to identify problems
with the Authority's operations. The assessment would have been an inventory of
problems that would have provided the receiver with a road map of the management
areas in need of improvement and would have provided the foundation for
documenting improvements through periodic reports.

--

The lack of assessments and reports continued after Hurricane Katrina. If HUD's
receiver had performed an initial assessment in phase 1, that assessment would have
had to have been significantly revised due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster on
August 29, 2005. However, neither HUD headquarters nor the receiver could
provide evidence to show that it reassessed or performed continuous assessment of
the Authority's condition after Hurricane Katrina.


--

The current receiver explained that before Hurricane Katrina, the Authority was
mostly involved in redevelopment, while after the hurricane, it was mostly
involved in recovery efforts such as asset recovery and rehousing displaced
Hurricane Katrina victims. The prior receiver confirmed that his priorities
included providing housing to displaced public housing tenants who wanted to
return after the hurricane and redevelopment. However, neither receiver could
provide documents to support these assertions.


--

During most of the receivership, there was no documented recovery plan which
covered all aspects of the Authority's condition. The current strategic
improvement plan was not implemented until after we began our audit in April
2008.

HUD did not properly monitor or control the receivership at the Authority.
During much of the time that the receivership was in existence, it was apparent
that HUD had not established a clear operating structure and reporting chain of
command. This condition is evidenced by the lack of documents to support the
receivership's actions and results in improving operations at the Authority.

According to interviews with HUD staff, until April 2008, the former Secretary of
HUD and some of his executive staff were intermittently involved with the
receivership. However, due to a lack of documentation, we could not evaluate the
extent of their involvement in the recovery of the Authority or how their
involvement was coordinated with the Assistant Secretary's oversight and the
receivers.
--

Aren't you glad we rushed into a poorly conceived public housing redevelopment program that was so clearly a vessel for handing out favors to cronies of incompetent HUD chief Alphonso Jackson?

It doesn't surprise me that there was "a lack of documentation" and "no documented recovery plan." You don't exactly want "a clear operating structure and reporting chain of command" when you intend to hand out contracts to personal friends and political allies.

I would love to see Attorney General Holder open up an inquiry into Mr. Jackson's tenure at HUD. I know the FBI was investigating him at the time of his resignation. I wonder if charges might still be in the offing.

There was a sad lack of reporting on Mr. Jackson's hidden agenda, especially as it relates to New Orleans post-Katrina. Ezra Pound of the National Review may have been the only professional investigative journalist to really delve into Jackson's dealings in here. It was his attempts to extort the city of Philadelphia that ultimately lead to his resignation, but I don't think the media ever truly examined out the extent to which Jackson made HUD into his own personal political fiefdom. Whereas Talking Points Memo devoted months and months to uncovering the politicization of the Department of Justice, there was no such organizational push to look into Housing and Urban Development. I wonder if we would have found a similar scope of departmental corruption.

--

Mary Landrieu is right to call for the resignation or replacement of all of the top HANO officials that are holdover appointees of Mr. Jackson.

It's such a shame that this was so poorly administered.

Federal receivership can and should be an effective means of cleaning up chronically ineffective or corrupted municipal departments. I'd like to see a lot more federal involvement in the administration of certain municipal departments here in New Orleans, especially now that we have President that presumably won't be appointing stooges like Alphie J.

4 comments:

mominem said...

I know a few people who were involved in the receivership and before. The local political "leadership" did all they could to prevent any real reform.

HANO is not the only problem nor is the Bush administration the only one concerned with HANO. HANO's problems stretch back many many years

E said...

No argument here. The receivership was put in place for a reason and the decision to employ that mechanism in New Orleans predated Mr. Jackson's tenure. Negotiations between the Morial administration and HUD Sec. Cisneros under Clinton forestalled receivership before that. The issue here is that Jackson's implementation and administration over the receivership left the agency in as bad shape as when it was taken over in the first place.

mominem said...

Great, a failed agency with a history of political entanglement could not be reformed. Whether Mr. Jackson could have been successful in the face of intense local position is a serious question, several previous attempts to fix HANO d failed.

I believe the demolition of the big four was a tragedy of the failure of HANO and the lack of imagination. But it was the only way to break the cycle of corruption, poverty and institutionalization that had existed before.

It is a serious error to assign the failure of HANO to the Bush Administration alone. The HUD intervention in HANO goes back to the Carter administration at least.

Anonymous said...

Alphonso jackson is a black boy from the hood just trying to get over like he always has. You can't take change a zebras stripes. I hope he and his daughter annette are enjoying their hilton head address and whatever other house she has on the united states government payroll. i hope they all are exposed for who they really are!