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.