I was looking at this story about how the Housing Authority of New Orleans has paid millions of dollars to this company out of Houston called MFR to run the Section 8 program. If I read the story correctly we are still paying them 600,000 dollars a month right now. It’s the usual New Orleans mess and it is an example of so many things that bother me about how things run in the city.
First of all I am so happy that the HUD decided to come in and take over HANO. I hate the fact that we need outsiders to come in and clean up our business but some things are too out of hand to expect it to correct itself. There is so much federal money coming into the city because of new housing that I think the feds felt like it would set the entire administration back if they depended on HANO’s leadership to do things efficiently. Whatever the reason was I am glad that they did it.
Second of all, why does it seem like New Orleans gives millions of dollars to outside companies so they can operate government programs? I say that if you have that much money to spend why not create jobs in your city and run all these things yourself. Did we really need to pay people to install crime cameras? Couldn’t we have just hired some IT guys and let them build a staff within the framework of the city’s payroll instead of forking over all this money to private companies? If you did things that way at least you could fire people that were incompetent without still having to give away a few million before finding someone else and giving them a few million too. Maybe I don’t understand how the contract process works but it seems no one else does either because we continue to waste money on issues that seem avoidable. I can’t say that Mir Fox & Rodriguez have done a bad job running the Section 8 program and doing other things for HANO but do you know how many local people we could put to work running that program ourselves? I did a little math. If you take the 600,000 dollars a month we are paying them now, multiplied that by 12, and divided it by 40,000 dollars (which is a good job in New Orleans if you can find it), we could have put 180 to work. Half of those people could be residents of HANO. It wouldn't take that many people to run the program so the other half of that money could go to something else. The next leadership of this city needs to figure out how to spend as much city money as possible on city people.
That brings me to my third point. I don’t care what you neighborhood you live in or what race you are, you should want the Inspector General’s office to be successful. Now, we can debate about how the current process is set up and if changes needed to be made but the one thing we should all agree on is that if we don’t get an honest assessment of what’s wrong with the way we do business and how we can make it better we are just going to keep giving away money by the truckloads to outside companies for things we should be able to handle. It’s my personal opinion that companies get over on us because they know we are so unorganized and inefficient that we will pay top dollar just to let them take away the pressure of having to clean things up. That’s why we need an apolitical Inspector General who releases his reports timely and stays off of talk radio and television unless he’s explaining a report. I don’t need that person’s opinion about anything. All I need to know is why we keep sending millions of dollars all around America to do things we can do for ourselves.