When George Bush addressed the Nation from Jackson Square in New Orleans on September 15, he made a lot of promises to the people of New Orleans. And, here's a shocker, it appears those promises are already being broken.
He said "In the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama." Looks like Someone in the government didn't get the memo. The Washington Post reported today that "Companies outside the three states most affected by Hurricane Katrina have received more than 90 percent of the money from prime federal contracts for recovery and reconstruction of the Gulf Coast...Among the contracts analyzed, 3.8 percent of the money went to companies that listed an Alabama address, 2.8 percent to firms in Louisiana and just 1.8 percent went for Mississippi contractors."
When Bush spoke from New Orleans, he also taked about the need to break the cycle of poverty that has gripped New Orleans, stating "As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created."
But we also learned today that because the government has suspended normal contracting rules, fewer minority firms are being awarded contracts for the Katrina recovery effort. Under normal rules, 5% of contracts are required to go to minority firms. But only 1.5% of the $1.6 billion being awarded by FEMA, has thus far gone to minority businesses, "less than a third of the 5 percent normally required."
If actions truly do speak louder than words (and they do), then it appears Bush's rhetoric was just fluff intended to help his sagging poll numbers.