"You Don't Care About People, Hud. You Don't Give a Damn About 'Em."

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Matt Welch mentioned it below, and the departure of Housing and Urban Developmen Sec. Alphonso Jackson doesn't seem to be the biggest news of the day. But boy, was it a long time coming. Jackson had used his office to bully people at least as long as two years ago:

In 2006, HUD's inspector general investigated remarks made by Mr. Jackson that some interpreted to mean that contracts were awarded in some cases based on political affiliation. The report didn't find any wrongdoing at the agency.

"Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president?" Mr. Jackson was quoted as saying in the Dallas Business Journal. "Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

Four months ago, Edward Pound reported on one of the investigations of Jackson:

Investigators now appear to be focusing on Jackson's ties to William Hairston, a stucco contractor from Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Jackson has a vacation home. Hairston was paid more than $485,000 for working as a construction manager at HANO during an 18-month period that ended in June. In interviews earlier this year, Hairston told National Journal that Jackson had helped him land the work in January 2006.

In the early morning of November 28, a HUD investigator served a search warrant at Hairston's residence in Hilton Head, according to three people familiar with the matter.

More details about the Hairston controversy at HANO have emerged in recent days, and they are not flattering to Jackson. Last year, current and former housing officials said, a senior HUD official who was detailed to HANO to serve as executive administrator was pulled back to headquarters in Washington after he urged that Hairston be let go. The official, William Thorson, refused to sign a $167,858 contract awarded to Hairston in July 2006.

The contract was approved by C. Donald Babers, another senior HUD official assigned to serve as HANO's only board member. According to an account that Babers gave to other housing officials, Jackson called him to complain that HANO was not paying Hairston. One person said that Babers recounted how Jackson had screamed at him over the phone and "read him the riot act."

I'm hearing a little regret and bellyaching about how this departure falls heaviest on the poor, the housing-deprived, etc, but when's the last time we've had a good HUD secretary? Take a look at the last five of them:

Sam Pierce, 1981-1989: Most famous for being 1)the only black Reagan cabinet member and for being called "Mr. Mayor" in a meeting with the president and city mayors. (Reagan forgot he was a member of the cabinet.) Investigated by the indepedent counsel's office for political favoritism and corruption.

Jack Kemp, 1989-1993: A huge failure in dealing with Congress, but his big idea—empowerment zones—was christened after he left office. Ran for vice president in 1996.

Henry Cisneros, 1993-1997: Spent two years running from an independent counsel who indicted him on 18 counts of conspiracy. Was pardoned by President Clinton in 2001, and helped his wife win the Texas primary this year.

Andrew Cuomo, 1997-2001: Signed up lots of contracts for his home state, New York, to build himself for a gubernatorial bid. Failed at that, but made a comeback after some time in the wilderness and was elected state attorney general in 2006.

Mel Martinez, 2001-2004: Bolstered his resume for a U.S. Senate run. Succeeded!

You either make no waves in the job and pick up your career from there, or you humiliate yourself enough to retire with a steady income and rolodex of famous friends. It's a racket.

Headline explained here.

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  1. I think HUD is number one on my personal list of ‘Cabinet departments to be deleted.’ It’s a long list…

  2. It’s a long list…

    It can’t be that long since there’s only 15 Cabinet departments.

    But yeah, I’d get rid of it too.

  3. peachy,
    Number one? Ahead of the USDA?

    I personally would put the DEA, FDA, and DHS ahead of HUD. Like you say, it’s a long list. It’s just a matter of priorities, but no matter which way you come at it, I don’t see how anything could be more offensive than the, totally corrupt, rob from the poor give to the rich, absolutely everything they do is a bad idea, nothing they do rises above despicable, lowering the standard of living for every man woman and child in the United States, USDA.

  4. I solved the agency order-of-removal problem in my Libertarian President Top 100:

    88. At the beginning of my first term, I will order the construction (after a fundraiser) of a small stadium on the Mall, which I will call. . .Thunderdome. Into Thunderdome, I will send the secretaries of every cabinet-level agency–excluding State, Defense, DOJ, and the Treasury–in pairs. Two go in, one comes out. Two go in, one comes out.

  5. Is there a high level govt job that is not a racket?

  6. was elected state attorney general in 2006.

    Interesting how that worked out for the last guy.

  7. I think what makes HUD number one for me is that it’s so totally fucking useless. There are at least arguments to be made for all of the others, even if those arguments are mostly crap. But HUD?

    Also, it may be the only one that I could actually see getting killed in my lifetime. (I’d put ’em all to the sword except the classic four, but that’s never going to happen.)

  8. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president?”

    I don’t understand how a human being could simultaneously be smart enough to weasel his way into a cabinet secretaryship, but stupid enough to say this for publication.

    The guy is some kind of political idiot savant.

  9. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president?” Mr. Jackson was quoted as saying in the Dallas Business Journal. “Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”

    Isn’t this the definition of cronyism?

    Ah, yes:

    cro?ny?ism

    Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.

    Well, at least the Department of Trans… Ener…Uhh…

    Wow, not one single department of the Executive Branch has avoided scandal. I can’t believe no one’s paying atten…

    BRB, American Idol is on, lol!

  10. Politicians don’t have to be particularly intelligent, but they do require a certain low cunning and a finely honed sense of self-preservation. How Jackson managed to survive the political wars all the way to the cabinet is a mystery indeed… although I see he came up through the housing and public safety bureaucracies. Perhaps that route puts less of a premium on avoiding public verbal stupidities?

  11. For shits and giggles, does anyone have a list of the last 5 drug czars, and a list of their “accomplishments”?

  12. I think HUD is number one on my personal list of ‘Cabinet departments to be deleted.’ It’s a long list…

    In that spirit I present my humble proposal to eliminate some waste in government:

    • Department of Agriculture_
    • Department of Commerce
    • Department of Defense (Reverts to Department of War, fuck euphemisms)
    • Department of Education
    • Department of Energy
    • Department of Health and Human Services
    • Department of Homeland Security (Coast Guard goes back to Treasury, FBI back to Justice, etc.)
    • Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • Department of Justice
    • Department of Labor
    • Department of State
    • Department of the Interior
    • Department of Transportation
    • Department of Treasury
    • Department of Veterans Affairs

    There are undoubtably some agencies embedded in these departments that would be retained and moved to one of the remaining departments. I’m giving two months severance pay to most of the affected bureaucrats, the remaining will be employed liquidating assets. (This could take up to two years).

    Give me a couple of intelligent reasonoids, we’ll go through it agency by agency in a week.
    Many heads will roll. sinecures will be abolished.

  13. J sub D-
    As an intelligent reasonoid, I feel it is my duty to point out that the FBI is still part of Justice.

  14. You’re more generous than I – I’d reduce Interior to a sub-cabinet agency. On the other hand, I might let Transportation survive in a similar cut-down fashion. (I guess that makes me an infrastructure minarchist – but I like interstates, dammit. And if they want to keep a rump Transportation they’ll raise the speed limit to 70 right quick.)

    And absolutely – “Defense”? What the fuck is that about? It’s the Department of War, people.

  15. J sub D

    I’m down. War, Justice, State and Interior.

    To help the transition, I suggest an additional Department, with a built-in expiration date. The name is to be determined, but something along the lines of the Department of “Think for your fucking self” or possibly (as as homage to the Simpsons and the Ayn Rand School for Tots episode) Department of “Help is for the Weak.”

    When’s the meeting to set this in motion?

  16. “I don’t understand how a human being could simultaneously be smart enough to weasel his way into a cabinet secretaryship, but stupid enough to say this for publication.”

    HUD is another turkey farm like FEMA.

    I would keep Department of the Interior around until I sold off all the public lands. That might take a few years as I wouldn’t want to flood the market.

  17. As an intelligent reasonoid, I feel it is my duty to point out that the FBI is still part of Justice.

    My screw up. I don’t know why I assumed that it had moved to DHS. Oh well, it’s just another reason to abolish DHS.

  18. I’d gut the Department of the Interior while I was at it, including selling off the National Parks.

    Maybe some of you Donderotarians? get a thrill from saying the word “War” but I would make sure that the Department of Defense was concerned with actual defense rather than bullying third-world countries into Americanizing. Therefore I’d keep the name as it is.

  19. The DoD does a lot of stuff totally unrelated to war (as it should)…I seem to recall them being very active between WW2 and Korea and Vietnam and the Gulf War. The analogies to Oceania’s Ministry of Peace are totally inapposite; the ministries in 1984 were actually given names which were the opposite of what they actually did.

  20. What about all of the non cabinet functions of the federal government:

    http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml

  21. “Administration on Aging” what the fuck is that? The third one on al alphabetical list already sounds completely retarded. Also first on the list is “Administration for Children and Families” which sounds like some god damn babysitting department so parents don’t have to give a shit.

  22. What about the department of building new stonehenges?

    http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2008/03/building-stoneh.html

  23. This list is useless without weighting. At some $600 billion, the War Department is the craven fuckpig of the group, no doubt, while the DEA is the most destructive.

  24. “My screw up. I don’t know why I assumed that it had moved to DHS.”

    Because the main impetus for the creation of a new dept was to break down the firewall between the FBI and the CIA which was (arguably) credited as one of principle reasons of why we failed to prevent 9/11.

    So, of course, the two agencies that did *not* get rolled into DHS were the CIA and FBI.

  25. What about all of the non cabinet functions of the federal government:

    http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml

    That’s why I require two intelligent reasonoids and two weeks. We then kill the non-essential agencies and bureaus, and reorganize the rest into the 5 or 6 remaining departments.

  26. Kolohe, exactly. Bureaucratic nest feathering.

  27. Fwiw, the usa.gov list featherbeds the featherbedding.

    Unless you also want to get rid of Alabama – a position I’m not necessarily opposed to as long as we keep the Mobile Mardis Gras and Auburn University. (severe hotties at both)

  28. Whoa, slow your roll there, honky – neither J Sub nor I has anything but the greatest contempt for Donderoooo. (Not to speak for you, J…)

    The problem I have with ‘Defense’ is that it’s one of those catch-all terms that can be used to justify all kinds of different activities, which is perfect for people (like Donderooo) who want the US wandering about sticking its collective dick into inviting sausage-grinders. (It’s the Commerce Clause of departmental names, so to speak.) Departments should have clearly defined functions, and should actually stick to them. With a Department of War you know that breaking things and killing people – and preparation for same – is the mission. If nation-building or armed humanitarian relief or whatnot are desired, then start a specialised organisation to do those – and only those – functions. We can call it the Colonial Department.

    Also, ‘Defense’ is one of those annoying modern euphemisms – ‘War’ was good enough for my grand-pappy, and it’s good enough for me, ye hear?

  29. Whoa, slow your roll there, honky – neither J Sub nor I has anything but the greatest contempt for Donderoooo. (Not to speak for you, J…)

    Well, besides contempt, I do have a vial of snail snot I’ve been saving for him.

  30. Why does HUD even exist?

  31. Why does HUD even exist?

    Jim Bob didn’t pay attention in U.S. History. Tsk, tsk. I’ll review now.

    Well back in the ancient days, prior to the enlightened management of HUD (before 1965) poor people used to live in crime ridden, sub standard housing called “SLUMS”. Ask your grandparents what those horrible places were like. You’d be shocked.

    Anyway, as part of his Great Society initiative, Lyndon Johnson, a heroic Democratic champion of economic justice gave the American people HUD as a part of his larger War on Poverty. Although poverty still exists in small pockets of Appalachia, Lyndon the Great’s aim was largely achieved. Thanks to him, slums are no longer a blight on the Americam landscape.

    Any questrions?

  32. Any questrions?

    Yes, I thought “Americams” were a much later DHS initiative. Was this also DARPA initiative during the Johnson administration, like the internet was? 🙂

  33. Bearded Beavis | March 31, 2008, 5:37pm |

    I feel the need to point out that this is one of the most awesome handles I’ve ever seen.

  34. Not only is HUD useless and corrupt, but it is also exremely, blatantly, in-your-face racist:
    http://www.cir-usa.org/releases/73.html

  35. “My screw up. I don’t know why I assumed that it had moved to DHS. Oh well, it’s just another reason to abolish DHS.

    The Coast Guard did move to DHS. They were previously part of the Dept of Transportation.

  36. Mr. History,

    Wow, you’re right! That explains why poor neighborhoods don’t exist anymore. Thanks, HUD!

    The More You Know?.

  37. hier is that rip roaring success Mr. History heps us to!

  38. What we need is a Department of Family and Moral Values!

  39. Hope VI worked.

  40. Thanks to him, slums are no longer a blight on the Americam landscape.

    Mr. History needs to take a walk in a few neighborhoods I can think of and tell people that they don’t live in slums thanks to the federal government.

    If he’s really lucky, he might walk out of those neighborhoods. If he’s only kinda lucky, the ambulance will get there in time.

  41. I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm.

  42. DOJ, while it really is necessary would have to be seriously reformed even if it was kept. At this point it would probably be easier to shut it down and build something new in its place. It has become a modern day Gestapo with its minions coordinating with other departments to follow their political directives with regard to enforcement. It is probably one of the most if not the most dangerous department we have.

  43. I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm.

    Probably so, but I simply cannot tell the satire and the sarcasm from the simple chowderheaded stupidity any more.

  44. I loved hearing Jackson’s mawkish speech saying it was time to concentrate on family matters as his reason for resigning. Yes, like spending some quality time with them before he heads to jail.

  45. R C Dean,

    I’m Mister History.
    Yeah, it can be tough to differentiate being that so many stupid people are allowed unsupervised access to the internet.

  46. No, I’m Mr. History!

    I’m Mr. History! And so is my wife!

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