Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Honest graft

As you read this article about how the outgoing HANO director used a non-profit to circumvent public bid laws and direct contracts to consulting firms of his choosing there are two things to keep in mind.

First, this person was in charge because he is a "turnaround specialist" charged with managing a federally mandated receivership of the notoriously corrupt housing authority and, you know, showing us local buffoons how grown-ups are supposed to behave.
Gilmore was the latest in a series of receivers since HANO was taken over by the federal government in 2002 after years of poor management. He oversaw the agency’s day-to-day operation and was its lone board member.

The federal government had been scheduled to relinquish control of HANO in mid-2013, but the city had not yet selected an executive director or appointed a board for the agency at that time, so HUD renewed its contract with Gilmore’s company, Gilmore Kean LLC, for six months, through Jan. 8. An option in the contract allowed for a three-month extension, putting Gilmore’s end date at April 8.

Public housing residents and landlords portrayed Gilmore and his team from Gilmore Kean LLC as attentive leaders who cared about improving the lives of those living in government-subsidized developments in New Orleans. Many said they considered the redevelopment of various housing complexes, including the multimillion-dollar Iberville redevelopment, as Gilmore’s greatest accomplishments during his tenure.
Ok well. Good job, then. 

The other thing to note is that this profiteering took place over the course of a long and much delayed process of demolishing New Orleans's public housing and replacing it with.... less public housing.  Because this is what "moves the city forward" or something. So it's honest graft, really.

Last night PBS aired Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker's documentary about the 2010 District B Council election "Getting Back To Abnormal."  The fate of public housing in New Orleans is a major theme of the film.  You can watch it here on the POV website until August 12.  There a number of memorable quotes to play with there but my favorite is the part where Pres Kabacoff tells us that after Katrina, "We don't have quite the drag we had here with so many poor people living here"

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