This is what’s known as putting your money where your mouth is.
Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves says he will resign if the federal government is the reason flood victims have not yet received any federal assistance. Graves made the comments on the Jim Engster Show, also issuing a call for Governor John Bel Edwards to do the same.
“Meaning if the ball is in the state’s court right now, then the governor resigns his position. I will take that deal to let you know how right I am, how serious I am. I’m not going to sit here and play games with the governor,” Graves said.
The governor isn’t taking Graves’ bet, but that doesn’t mean his people are going to admit any fault on flood recovery.
Richard Carbo with the Governor’s Office says there is no truth to Graves’ claims that the state is holding up the process. He says Louisiana submitted its plan on how to spend recovery dollars to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development with record speed, and the funds are tied up in red tape on the federal level.
“At the exact same time that the Congressman was placing this bet on himself, HUD said they were still waiting to approve the final release of the funds,” Carbo said.
What’s somewhat peculiar about Carbo’s position is this report…
Homeowners affected by the historic floods that swept Louisiana in March and August can now begin the initial application process for the state’s upcoming housing recovery programs.
An online survey has been launched on the Restore Louisiana Task Force website (restore.la.gov), along with a coordinating call center for homeowners who don’t have internet access and need the online forms filled out on their behalf.
The survey process will not be judged on a first-come, first-serve basis. It will be available for a period of time and does not have to be completed on the opening date.
The survey is expected to take about 15 minutes and will not require documentation. Potentially eligible homeowners will later be invited to further apply for assistance, based on their survey answers, at which time further documentation will be needed.
According to the state task force, the survey portion is intended to keep the process moving faster by minimizing the number of homeowners affected by federal rules on government assistance timelines.
All flood-impacted families are strongly urged to complete the survey even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for the initial round of assistance.
Does it not seem a bit late in the game for the state to be taking a survey of people affected by the flooding? It’s April, after all. The flooding was in August. And yet Louisiana isn’t the problem with the slow speed of flood recovery?
Without wandering into the weeds on this question, how does taking a survey of the flood victims now help to make the case that the state has done all it can to expedite the process and is just waiting on the federal government?
Edwards doesn’t have a program manager for the recovery process, after all. Friday was the deadline for the bidders for that contract to submit bids for the second try at it. Until Edwards has a program manager in place it’s a little difficult to make the case his ducks are in a row.
Later this week, we’ll have a post going through the timeline of the flood and the governmental responses to it, and we’re going to do our best to see who’s telling the truth.