New Orleans’ sanitation director, Veronica White, has published a book entitled How to Maximize FEMA Funding After a Natural Disaster. According to the jacket, the book is a sort of memoir by White about her experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina: “Ms. White discovered firsthand how to cope with disaster in the aftermath of Katrina and how to navigate the Byzantine worlds of government agencies tasked with aiding in the recovery efforts in particular, FEMA.” The book was published by her husband.
It has been well received by other local officials, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
White’s book contains blurbs by a couple of well-known locals, who offered up literary bouquets.
New Orleans Recovery Director Ed Blakely calls the book “the most valuable tool in your time of crisis. Read it; heed it.”
Chuck Carr Brown, former assistant secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality, is also a fan: “Veronica White’s firsthand account is tried and true and the FEMA maze is unraveled,” Brown wrote.
If Dr. Blakely is correct — that the most valuable tool available to local officials during a crisis is a book about how to get federal grant money — then two things have gone extremely wrong. First is that local governments have become so dependent on external revenue sources that their first move during a disaster is to get on the horn with Washington to get the money flowing. And the second is that intergovernmental transfers have become such a maze that local officials have to read and write books that explain how to navigate the bureaucracy.
Of course, none of this should be a surprise; people have been writing and selling books on how to get “free money” from Washington for years. But that we now have manuals being written by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats, on how to game dysfunctional bureaucracies, points to serious underlying problems with the current system.