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Road Home roadblock product of inept Blanco's ideas

Score another instance of the ineptitude of the Gov. Kathleen Blanco Administration when it discovered, despite having been briefed months ago about these matters, it inadvertently administered the Road Home Program in violation of federal rules. Why it did so is instructive.

Essentially, the program controls disbursement of funds to homeowners rebuilding, allowing money out in stages. Under federal regulations this creates a “rehabilitation” or “rebuilding” program subject to a whole new layer of time-consuming rules to follow. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said for it to be a much less regulated “compensation” program at the very least grantees would have to have a choice to receive the money in lump sum form immediately.

Administration officials worried this might allow unwise expenditures unrelated to rebuilding, or unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of the situation. Neither is a real concern. As long as the program attaches a covenant to receipt with a requirement that the money be used for rebuilding and that the owner will keep the property for a year, the first concern is unwarranted. The second can be dealt with by allowing disbursement only under the condition that a contract be signed by a program-approved contractor, with that approval process being made simple by allowing only licensed contractors into it.

Proper analysis reveals the real reason why the program was set up to put money into escrow and to release it only slowly, and that harkens back to a basic part of Blanco’s philosophy about government: that government is there to take care of people because they (except for the few wise folk like Blanco and your local state legislators) are incapable of making even the most basic decisions about their lives. This is why Blanco in her entire political career has desired bigger, more powerful government as she thinks she and her ilk know better how to run people’s lives than they do.

Even if this were not its real motive, HUD’s directive has had the effect of empowering Louisianans in this unfortunate situation. And thus the whole episode demonstrates not just more fumbling by the Blanco Administration, but reveals its liberal/populist mindset under which it operates which over the decades has done and continues to do more harm to this state than it deserves.

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