[Hpn] Bet on reform from Martinez;Editorial;Washington Times;6/25/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 25 Jun 2001 13:11:40 -0400


-------Forwarded editorial-------

Monday, June 25, 2001
Washington Times <http://www.washtimes.com>
[Washington, D.C.]
Bet on reform from Martinez

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez has one of the worst 
jobs in Washington, attempting to rein in a wildly overfed, galloping 
bureaucracy, which should, by all accounts, be consigned to the glue 
factory. But Mr. Martinez has thrown himself into the sticky mess with 
enthusiasm, telling editors and reporters of The Washington Times at a 
recent breakfast meeting that he had set up a joint taskforce with Health 
and Human Secretary Tommy Thompson "to try to unravel the regulatory maze 
that now happens on issues of the homeless." "Maze" is a bit of an 

Sen. Fred Thompsonīs recently released report on federal government 
management problems pointed out, "There are 50 different federal homeless 
assistance programs administered by eight different agencies. The programs 
are highly fragmented since each program has its own eligibility criteria, 
application procedures and other requirements." Sounds like a regulatory 
labyrinth that would defy even the Minotaur.

Mr. Martinez promised to bull through the regulatory hurdles that Beltway 
bureaucrats often set in the way of communities racing to revitalization. 
Decrying the federal cookie-cutter approach, Mr. Martinez said he hopes he 
can devolve to local HUD offices the ability to be flexible to local 
situations, and he suggested "HUD ought to get the hell out of the way" when 
locals have better ideas.

Unfortunately, locals often have fairly good ideas of how to exploit federal 
largess, and Mr. Martinez promised to crack the whip on corruption in urban 
areas like New Orleans and Puerto Rico, the latter of which has already seen 
13 local housing officials indicted for embezzling more than $2.5 million 
from taxpayers. Another scandal is brewing in Detroit, where Rep. Joe 
Knollenberg recently called for a criminal investigation after a report from 
the HUD Inspector General revealed nearly $18 million in alleged waste, 
fraud and abuse by the Detroit Housing Commission.

Paradoxically, according to Mr. Martinez, the St. Anneīs church community in 
Detroit offers a great example of the power of partnerships between public 
companies, non-profits and faith-based community groups to produce urban 
renewal. Mr. Martinez would like to see such programs expanded, especially 
since he was touched deeply by Catholic charities as a child. More than 
anything, he seems to view government thorough a federal framework, one in 
which governors in Washington, D.C., play an appropriately limited role. 
However, in running for a diminishment of HUDīs authority, he is going 
against bureaucrats and Democrats, both thoroughbreds of federal expansion. 
Even if he succeeds, Mr. Martinez probably wonīt be crowned with roses. 
Right now, though, he has the look of a winner.

---End of forwarded editorial---


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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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