Report from Louisiana: The Edwards/Graves Feud Heats Up

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Report from Louisiana: The Edwards/Graves Feud Heats Up

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – The feud between Louisiana Gov­er­nor John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gar­rett Graves over the slow response of Louisiana in flood recov­ery efforts esca­lated last week when the Edwards camp accused Rep. Graves of spread­ing false infor­ma­tion about the release of fed­eral money given to the state.

Fri­day, Rep. Graves issued this state­ment:

Flood vic­tims in need of assis­tance are wait­ing on the state gov­ern­ment to act. The $1.65 bil­lion that is avail­able TODAY to the state of Louisiana for flood recov­ery will never be wired to a Louisiana-​controlled account; that’s not how it works. It will stay at the HUD CFO Account­ing Cen­ter in Fort Worth and the state will draw down the money as necessary.

The first step is for the State to upload its Action Plan to HUD’s soft­ware pic­tured in the screen­shot. The rea­son it says $0 is because the state hasn’t uploaded its plan.

Once the state does upload the plan, the process will work like this:

Let’s say The Action Plan bud­gets $25 mm for dry­wall and the state needs to pur­chase $10 mm now.

The State sub­mits a draw request for $10 mm and then the state gets paid within 72 hours. Now the state’s dry­wall bud­get is $15mm and so on…

The bot­tom line is that the state has known for more than 191 days (Sept. 28 is when Con­gress appro­pri­ated funds) that it would receive fed­eral dis­as­ter money through the CDGB pro­gram, and should be ready to dis­burse those funds. They’re not ready.

Every­thing else you’re hear­ing is noise.

Louisiana is one of the most fre­quent users of DRGR. The state should be able to sub­mit action plan in its sleep. Com­mis­sioner Dar­d­enne is on the radio is say­ing it is being uploaded now — hurry up.

The spokesman for Gov­er­nor Edwards, Richard Carbo, says “Graves’ infor­ma­tion is inac­cu­rate and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment hasn’t yet released the money to the state to spend. The line of credit “has not yet been set up.”

Clearly, the gov­ern­ment hasn’t released the money because the state has not sub­mit­ted an action plan as required or hired a con­trac­tor to over­see rebuild­ing. Why haven’t they done that?

Mean­while, as I reported last week, Louisia­ni­ans are not wait­ing on the politi­cians. The Cajun Navy worked along­side first respon­ders when the floods hap­pened in August 2016 to res­cue peo­ple, pets, and prop­erty, and now the Cajun Relief Foun­da­tion is work­ing through crowd fund­ing to get peo­ple the finan­cial help they need.

Be sure to read this scathing post from Scott McKay of The Hayride:

Nobody has made a full-​on indict­ment of Edwards’ imme­di­ate response to the August floods, though he cer­tainly wasn’t per­fect – and it’s fair to say he got bailed out by the Cajun Navy, which filled in a lot of the gaps. But in the effort to get fed­eral dol­lars into Louisiana to make flood recov­ery hap­pen as quickly as pos­si­ble, Edwards has been an unmit­i­gated fail­ure – and if Louisiana’s news­pa­pers weren’t so nakedly par­ti­san on his side the gov­er­nor would have been thor­oughly exco­ri­ated for it.

Hope­fully the politi­cians can get their red tape untan­gled before the next flood hits.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The feud between Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Representative Garrett Graves over the slow response of Louisiana in flood recovery efforts escalated last week when the Edwards camp accused Rep. Graves of spreading false information about the release of federal money given to the state.

Friday, Rep. Graves issued this statement:

Flood victims in need of assistance are waiting on the state government to act. The $1.65 billion that is available TODAY to the state of Louisiana for flood recovery will never be wired to a Louisiana-controlled account; that’s not how it works. It will stay at the HUD CFO Accounting Center in Fort Worth and the state will draw down the money as necessary.

The first step is for the State to upload its Action Plan to HUD’s software pictured in the screenshot. The reason it says $0 is because the state hasn’t uploaded its plan.

Once the state does upload the plan, the process will work like this:

Let’s say The Action Plan budgets $25 mm for drywall and the state needs to purchase $10 mm now.

The State submits a draw request for $10 mm and then the state gets paid within 72 hours. Now the state’s drywall budget is $15mm and so on…

The bottom line is that the state has known for more than 191 days (Sept. 28 is when Congress appropriated funds) that it would receive federal disaster money through the CDGB program, and should be ready to disburse those funds. They’re not ready.

Everything else you’re hearing is noise.

Louisiana is one of the most frequent users of DRGR. The state should be able to submit action plan in its sleep. Commissioner Dardenne is on the radio is saying it is being uploaded now – hurry up.

The spokesman for Governor Edwards, Richard Carbo, says  “Graves’ information is inaccurate and the federal government hasn’t yet released the money to the state to spend. The line of credit “has not yet been set up.”

Clearly, the government hasn’t released the money because the state has not submitted an action plan as required or hired a contractor to oversee rebuilding. Why haven’t they done that?

Meanwhile, as I reported last week, Louisianians are not waiting on the politicians.  The Cajun Navy worked alongside first responders when the floods happened in August 2016 to rescue people, pets, and property, and now the Cajun Relief Foundation is working through crowd funding to get people the financial help they need.

Be sure to read this scathing post from Scott McKay of The Hayride:

Nobody has made a full-on indictment of Edwards’ immediate response to the August floods, though he certainly wasn’t perfect – and it’s fair to say he got bailed out by the Cajun Navy, which filled in a lot of the gaps. But in the effort to get federal dollars into Louisiana to make flood recovery happen as quickly as possible, Edwards has been an unmitigated failure – and if Louisiana’s newspapers weren’t so nakedly partisan on his side the governor would have been thoroughly excoriated for it.

Hopefully the politicians can get their red tape untangled before the next flood hits.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.