What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fake Emergency Management . . . Again

 Fake Emergency Management . . . Again
Rows of trailers for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina line the Renaissance Village trailer park in Baker, La. Trailers like these have been found to contain high levels of formaldehyde.

(By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

by Ana Maria

Bush's FEMA, the agency responsible for handling disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, has itself been disastrous. As catastrophic as Katrina’s damage has been for everyone from New Orleans through the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Alabama, nothing—and I mean nothing—comes close to the catastrophe that Bush’s FEMA embodies in terms of its deliberate neglect, callous disregard, and compassionless actions toward those whom Katrina impacted.

After being publicly castigated for deliberately ignoring reports regarding the enormous toxic levels of formaldehyde inside the trailers that house Katrina’s survivors, the Bush Administration’s latest chief FEMA buffoon has announced that the agency would—finally—begin testing the trailers.

The agency’s own on-the-ground reports had long ago informed FEMA’s upper management that the trailers were causing significant health problems. In fact, the agency’s attorneys have known since early 2006 that these sardine can sized trailers were toxic to the degree of being 75 times the healthy level. From the onset, on-the-ground FEMA employees pushed for testing. So, what directive came down from one of the attorneys with Bush’s FEMA?

"Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. . . . Once you get results and should they indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them."

This FEMA attorney apparently missed the part of law school that would have informed him that being told of the problem automatically put him on notice. At that point, he should have acted. Period. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. It’s doesn’t work. You cannot un-ring the bell, bucko.

The “reasonable man theory” might apply to the situation. What would a reasonable man or woman do under these circumstances? Now, the word to focus on is reasonable as most of us would agree upon its meaning.

A reasonable individual could conclude the following.

  1. The trailers may be posing health risks to the families living in them.
  2. FEMA’s responsible for protecting the health and welfare of these families.
  3. FEMA should quickly provide appropriate and rigorous tests to determine the extent to which formaldehyde levels exist in the trailers.
  4. Once the tests confirmed the toxic levels of formaldehyde, FEMA must immediately determine the remedy for the situation including providing alternative housing that would be safe and healthy.

So what would a reasonable man or woman do as a result of these conclusions? Test the trailers with the best testing equipment and personnel available. After all, the health and safety of those living in the trailers is paramount.

Instead, FEMA’s upper management told its on-the-ground employees to turn a blind eye to the unnecessary suffering of these families living in the formaldehyde-filled trailers within the Katrina-ravaged region.

The Washington Post reported

A trail of e-mails obtained by investigators shows that the agency's lawyers rejected a proposal for systematic testing of the levels of potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde gas in the trailers, out of concern that the agency would be legally liable for any hazards or health problems. As many as 120,000 families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita lived in the suspect trailers, and hundreds have complained of ill effects.

How utterly irresponsible, compassionless, vile and contemptible Bush’s FEMA continues to be.

FEMA Resentfully Relents
Only after being verbally lashed at a very public congressional hearing last Thursday did FEMA’s leadership announce it had capitulated to the demands that it live up to its responsibilities. This, too, appears to be a continuation of the administration’s PR scam.

From the new flyer it is providing the residents living in the formaldehyde-filled trailers to the false and misleading information on its website, FEMA exhibits a vile contempt for us, the American people.

With great interest did I read FEMA’s new flyer. In keeping with the deceptive PR practices so prevalent with the Bush crew, this flyer is exceedingly misleading. First they try to pretend that formaldehyde is as common as oxygen and then to blame on dust, mold, or smoke the symptoms toxic levels of formaldehyde can produce.

Formaldehyde is a common indoor air pollutant that can be found in nearly all homes and buildings.

“. . . your symptoms could be from indoor pollutants that may include formaldehyde or other indoor pollutants, such as dust, mold or smoke.

If the Bush Administration were serious about rectifying this situation, if it were serious about accurately educating the American public about the potentially hazardous nature of the government-provided housing, then it would provide clear and convincing language to instruct these residents to seek medical treatment immediately.

But, the Bushies are not serious about anything other than lining their own pockets and, with government sweet heart deals, the pockets of their big wig friends.

Abroad, the Bush Administration hands out multi-billion dollar, no bid contracts to companies like Cheney’s Halliburton. Here at home, Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) exposed the Katrina fraud involving Bush supporter Riley Bechtel who received “$16,000 to haul a trailer the last 70 miles from Purvis, Miss., down to the Gulf Coast, hook it up to a garden hose, hook it up to a sewer tap, and plug it in. $16,000.”

Who this administration hurts with its price gouging, deceptive practices, and elimination of our governmental infrastructure is irrelevant to them. The Bushies cloak themselves in Old Glory and hide behind language central to the Christian faith as they fake being men and women who receive special delivery messages from heaven. Oh, I’m sure they get messages. However, I’m equally certain that they have grossly misinterpreted those messages.

Yep, the Bushies fake a lot of things like patriotism and religiosity. Now, the Bush Administration is faking any appearance of a serious mea culpa on the part of FEMA’s deliberate – what was that phrase the Democratic Congressional Committee Chair used? Ahhh, yes! Chairman Waxman termed it “premeditated ignorance.”

FEMA’s Website: A Portal of False and Misleading Information
FEMA’s website is riddled with false, inaccurate, and deceptive language with regard to formaldehyde-filled FEMA trailers. As a result, the information on FEMA’s website misleads the American public. Let’s look at three examples which highlight FEMA Director Paulison’s failure to ensure that all deceptive pieces of information regarding his agency’s formaldehyde-filled trailers were taken down.

Example 1
On FEMA’s homepage under “FEMA Continues To Address Formaldehyde Concerns” the following sentence remains.

Although tests of air samples from travel trailers in the Gulf Coast have demonstrated that ventilating the units is effective in reducing levels of formaldehyde.

Of course, FEMA fails to tell the WHOLE truth of their pitiful previous “air samples”. Last week, TIME Magazine reported on the pitifully pathetic way that the Bush folks conducted its “tests.”

Trailers were left with windows ajar, air conditioning on and all vents open for days before interior air levels were tested for the gas — conditions that did not nearly approximate actual living conditions.

Example 2
On FEMA’s website, Paulison has left intact deviously misleading information on the health hazards of formaldehyde as well as its remedy. In its set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) titled FEMA Actions to Minimize Formaldehyde in Travel Trailers, FEMA’s questions #2 and #3 are of particular note.

2. I thought FEMA had already done a travel trailer study.

Yes. Last summer the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and the CDC’s Disease Registry testing of air samples from travel trailers. That study showed that ventilating the units is effective in reducing levels of formaldehyde. However, FEMA believes additional research is needed to address
concerns about the health effects of living in travel trailers for prolonged periods of time. [Emphasis added.]

What?! The so-called study was no study at all, and the conclusions based on it are ready for prime time amateur hour! The fact of the matter is that the Clarion-Ledger, the daily paper in Jackson, Miss., which is the capitol of the state, reported "Becky Gillette, vice chairwoman of the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club, said testing of some FEMA trailers and mobile homes showed elevated levels of formaldehyde, even in those that have been aired out for months.” [Emphasis added.]

The answer to FEMA’s question #3 blames the residents for creating the toxic formaldehyde levels that are 75 times the healthy level.

3. What will the new study do?

The study will involve testing actual air quality conditions in travel trailers when they are used for longer periods of time under real-life conditions. In the study conducted last, the testing was done in new, unoccupied trailers so that we could determine formaldehyde levels in the units themselves, excluding any changes related to activities by the occupants, such as smoking.

Smoking causes formaldehyde to jump to 75 times the healthy level? Again, Bush’s FEMA folks are prime time for amateur hour. Get them off the government payroll!

Example 3
On FEMA’s website is a piece titled Statement On Travel Trailers and Formaldehyde. In it, Bush’s agency retains more reality-free material through which to mislead the American public seeking factually-based information.

Our investigation of formaldehyde and travel trailers indicates that ventilating the units can significantly reduce levels of formaldehyde emissions.

The Sierra Club’s testing disputes the Bush Administration’s assertion.

Once again, Bush’s government betrays our trust and jeopardizes our health and welfare. So what can we do about this situation?

Today’s Political Hell Raising Activity has us contact FEMA Director Paulison’s office to demand the removal of all the false and misleading information regarding the agency’s formaldehyde-filled trailers. Let’s bombard his office with calls so much so that we interrupt their routine.

That is our point. To interrupt their routine of deception, deviousness, and callous disregard for the health and safety of the families living in the FEMA trailers.

Our point is to call the director's office and tell the FEMA staff member at the other end of the call that we want the government website that our tax dollars pay for to be based upon reality and not someone’s fantasy.

While FEMA’s upper management is faking emergency management . . . again, we can demonstrate that we’re fully engaged citizens who will take out 3-5 minutes to live up to our end of the democratic bargain that is the great American experiment in representative democracy. Nothing fake about that. All very real.

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