Friday, September 09, 2005

Federalism vs. States Rights

Get educated by a guy who knows: who is supposed to do what in a tragedy? Read here.

As an aside, the idea of the President being given powers to take over in a time of crisis in a state makes me nervous. He has plenty o' power, thank you.

Our country is a republic of elected officials who represent us. Like it or not Guiliani represented the people's will in New York City--so did Pataki--during the 9/11 aftermath. In California people count on a former action hero named Schwartzenager. Unfortunately for the people in and around New Orleans they had two people who continue to fret and fume instead of fighting through the fear in the face of the overwhelming nature of the task.

It is easy to throw potshots from the cheap seats when you're not in the thick of the chaos of the situation. But this crisis wasn't unknown like 9/11. We all saw the hurricane coming. Even I warned of impending doom--I felt it in my bones--and worried over people cavalierly saying "I was born here, I'll die here." See "Katrina Komin'" from Saturday, August 27, in the archives.

Here's what we know: The city is below sea-level. They even have an evacuation plan they decided not to use. The governor and mayor get elected precisely for these times. The police are hired to serve during these times. Fire fighters fight FIRES. These people steadily run TOWARD the crisis they do not run AWAY. And they are lead by our elected officials.

In Texas people rely on Rick Perry at the state level and mayor Bill White a Democrat in Houston. The Mayor and Judge Robert Eckels a Republican work together as of this writing to coordinate efforts to help care for the NOLA refugees. Here's a quote from today's Houston Chronicle:

White has shaped much of the official response to the hurricane. He formed and chairs the Katrina Working Group, the large panel at the city-run George R. Brown Convention Center that weighs evacuees' needs and plans accordingly. He's spearheaded the effort to obtain corporate help and to move the evacuees out of shelters and into apartments and houses.

White has led the way in large part because his office institutionally has more power. The mayor controls all city departments while Eckels must rely for most equipment and personnel on other elected county officials — four commissioners and the sheriff, for example.

But the trademarks of White's tenure — deft management, cooperation with politicians of opposing philosophies and a willingness to rely on business leaders — also are evident in his partnerships with Eckels and others managing the relief effort.

They and their staffs have been consumed since the earliest hours by the massive and complicated relief operation, an effort that could shape their legacies. Both men so far are getting good reviews.

"The mayor and Judge Eckels have done a fabulous job," said Councilwoman Pam Holm. "Houston is lucky to have such leadership."

Granted, Houston's leadership had more time to prepare--we knew the hurricane and very likely, the people were coming. But had the Hurricane hit here and our elected officials acted as NOLA's, I'd want their collective heads on platters. I hope the residents of Louisiana remember the incompetence when they vote again. If they elect more family members and cronies and big babies, they get what they deserve.

Read more here.
More blogs about the woodlands rita.