Steve Prator, the sheriff of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, is hopping mad because FEMA won't release the names, social security numbers and dates of birth of hundreds of Katrina evacuees, so he can do background checks. The sheriff cites information from a snitch that led to his finding 33 evacuees had lengthy criminal records. FEMA says federal privacy laws won't allow them to release the information.
But Sheriff Prator points out that people in federally funded public housing developments have to go through background checks, and he doesn't see why it should be any different for evacuees living in FEMA-paid hotel rooms and shelters.
Call me a snob, but I think there should be a difference in presumption of guilt between somebody who ends up in public housing because he's a bum and somebody who ends up there because his house was wiped out by a flood. If we're going to be providing these services [Insert libertarian boilerplate about how anybody who provides assistance to those less fortunate should be sent to a death camp here], it makes sense to treat emergency evacuees differently than chronic handout-seekers (though there's certainly going to be some overlap between the two groups).
Thanks to David N. Smith