Thursday, July 19, 2007

FEMA on the wrong mission

For years now I have been hearing about problems with FEMA trailers, for the last few months about the formaldehyde problems causing the inhabitants to be sick.

Original reports indicated that the trailers just could not be manufactured fast enough, so the vendor ordered more supplies and bought raw materials that were not fit for the purpose due to formaldehyde content.

Various reports show that FEMA avoided testing. More reports show they did some testing but tried to skew the results by airing out the trailers first. The most alarming is that internally FEMA lawyers suggested to not test because that might increase liability for the problem if it could be shown that FEMA had hard evidence that the problem existed.

That shows an indifference that is amazing, unethical, and criminal. Had this been a large company, say General Motors, we might expect to hear lawyers and actuaries suggesting that it is more profitable to ignore the problem and deal with the lawsuits, if any, later. We might not like it, but we might expect it. But isn't FEMA responsible for helping people out in a disaster? Instead it sounds like they are trying to do a risk assessment to decide how to keep their liability lower, not to help the public with the liabilities they are facing.

If this was a junior attorney who made this comment he should be disciplined. If it was a senior attorney, he should be fired and perhaps disbarred. This is an outrage.

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