University of Louisiana at Monroe Budgeting Plan in Montgomery County Paper – Excelsior Writers | excelsiorwriters.com
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Give a brief description of the issue, its direct connection to public administration, its direct connection to course literature, an analysis of the issue, and a reaction to it that focuses on broader implications.
In an effort to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama spoke in one of the hardest-hit areas of New Orleans: the Lower Ninth Ward. The storm that hit New Orleans in August 2005 killed more than 1,000 people and caused more than $100 billion in property damage. Tens of thousands of people were uprooted from New Orleans, and some never returned. In his speech on Thursday, President Obama suggested that “economic inequality, an inadequate emergency response and a country that tolerated poverty” were responsible for much of the human suffering before, during, and after the 2005 storm. In fact, the President declared Katrina to be, in part, a man-made catastrophe “fueled by poverty and government inaction.” “What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Mr. Obama said. Many critics faulted President George W. Bush’s administration for what was claimed to be an inadequate disaster response in the storm’s aftermath. “Michael Brown, the Bush administration official who led the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the time, argued in an opinion piece this week that most of the anger about government disaster response should have been directed at local officials back in 2005.” In his opinion piece, Mr. Brown argued that the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana had not fulfilled their responsibilities as elected officials in office. “Had [they] fulfilled their responsibilities as elected leaders of their city and state, most if not all of the people crying for help in front of national television cameras would not have been there. They would have been in other locales, safe and secure,” Mr. Brown wrote in Politico. “But the blame was not placed on those responsible.” Regardless of who is to blame, the President was proud to acknowledge the progress that the city has made in its efforts to rebuild after the storm. “Folks have been watching what’s happened here and they’ve seen a reflection of the very best of the American spirit.”
I found this article to be quite interesting given its relevance to the state of Louisiana, but also due to its relevance to the reading material this week. In Politics of the Administrative Process, Donald F. Kettl begins the text with a chapter on accountability. According to the text, “accountability is a relationship between people (who is accountable to whom?) about actions (what are they accountable for?). It is the foundation of bureaucracy in a democracy, because accountability depends on the ability of policymakers to control administrators’ actions (Kettl 6).” Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster that could not have been prevented; however, the lingering questions are primarily concerned with the controversial federal, state, and local disaster management. In a Politico article concerning Hurricane Katrina, author Michael Grunwald suggested the 2005 storm to be a “manmade” disaster. “…The government wasn’t just slow to respond to the tragedy. It directly created the tragedy. New Orleans wasn’t drowned by poverty or climate change or the laggards at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was drowned by bad government engineering and bad government priorities about water resources. If its floodwalls hadn’t collapsed, FEMA’s tardiness wouldn’t have been such a big deal (Politico).” In an effort to echo Kettl’s thoughts on accountability, and in regards to Hurricane Katrina, “who is accountable to whom?” And “what are they accountable for?” Surely the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are accountable to the people of New Orleans. So is former FEMA official, Michael Brown, to blame? Or was he correct in blaming Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco? Perhaps, President Obama is right to blame economic disparities, an inadequate emergency response, and a country that tolerated poverty. According to Kettl, “not all circumstances are the same, and good administration requires adapting general policies to special needs (8).” Were the needs of New Orleans residents met before, during, and/or after Katrina? Perhaps, it would be best to ask the thousands of residents that were stranded at emergency shelters for days. As Kettl states, “real world conflicts leave administrators responsible for resolving many uncertainties, for which they must rely heavily on their own internal compasses – their personal character, professional training, devotion to the public service, and respect for faithful execution of the law (15).” In my opinion, it is impossible to place blame on one party or entity involved in the Hurricane Katrina tragedy; however, there seems to be several parties and entities responsible for the lack of preparation (i.e. the city’s inadequate infrastructure) and lack of response (i.e. assisting the city’s residents after the storm) before, during, and after the storm. In Chapter 2, Kettl suggests that when disaster strikes, Americans look to their government for help. In terms of Hurricane Katrina, the concept of administrative responsibility must dominate the discussion. Government’s bottom line is: “administrative responsibility, not only for administering programs efficiently but also for ensuring that both the process and its results are accountable to elected officials and, ultimately, to the people.” Therefore, in light of Hurricane Katrina, did the government on all levels (federal, state, and local) administer programs efficiently? Did administrators ensure that both the process and its results were accountable to elected officials? And finally, was all of this done with the people (particularly the residents in New Orleans) in mind?
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