For all the talk during last week’s Senate Democratic caucus about how Joe Lieberman went South forty years ago to march for racial equality and justice, did anyone even ask about his oversight of the Homeland Security Department that’s created Katrina Kids, the sickest ever?
Now, the children of Katrina who stayed longest in ramshackle government trailer parks in Baton Rouge are "the sickest I have ever seen in the U.S.," says Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. According to a new report by CHF and Mailman focusing on 261 displaced children, the well-being of the poorest Katrina kids has "declined to an alarming level" since the hurricane. Forty-one percent are anemic—twice the rate found in children in New York City homeless shelters, and more than twice the CDC’s record rate for high-risk minorities. More than half the kids have mental-health problems. And 42 percent have respiratory infections and disorders that may be linked to formaldehyde and crowding in the trailers, the last of which FEMA finally closed in May.
The "recovery" from Katrina may be worse than the initial response itself:
The "unending bureaucratic haggling" at federal and state levels over how to provide services and rebuild health centers for the Gulf’s poor has made a bad situation much worse, says Redlener: "As awful as the initial response to Katrina looked on television, it’s been dwarfed by the ineptitude and disorganization of the recovery."
The criminal neglect is ongoing and could certainly benefit from some, um, Oversight:
The agency’s case-management program also "has yet to provide any services for thousands of families," according to the report, and funding for the program expires in March. Redlener is optimistic that funds will be extended at least through mid-2010, since all that will require is "a stroke of the pen" from the new administration. But, he adds, he’s "not Pollyanna-ish about how rapidly" the disaster-planning system will get its act together and come up with long-term plans for the impoverished families—or whether that will be accomplished in time "to make sure this doesn’t happen again" with the next storm.
Tell me again, Senate Democrats, about how denying Joe Lieberman his Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight gavel was all about retribution? No, it was about incompetence, criminal neglect, poisoning of children, crony contracting, and worthless government services — all of which were enabled by the independent Senator from Connecticut.
Heckuva job, Joe.