Sunday Column

Doors closed in Homeland chief’s trip

Permission to speak candidly?

I was not much impressed by the U.S. Homeland Security chief’s visit to our flooded homeland this past week. Sure, I understand Janet Napolitano is new to the job, which includes overseeing FEMA, and has a tight schedule. I appreciate the time she took to stop by.

But I would have appreciated it more if she had directed her sizable SUV caravan into a flooded neighborhood. Time Check, the Czech Village and Rompot, etc. aren’t tough to find. They’re the places with the battered homes and debris and people trying to rebuild their lives. They’re waiting for a very important person to give them answers.

She really should have checked it out. Instead, she toured Mercy Medical Center. Mercy’s flood story is compelling stuff, to be sure. Its recovery is remarkable.

But how does touring a fully recovered facility illustrate how we still need considerable and rapid help from the federal government?

You’ve got me. And that’s not all.

Napolitano met for 45 minutes at Kirkwood Community College with many elected leaders – Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran, members of the city council and Linn County Board of Supervisors, State Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, and others.

So what happened? Who knows. The meeting was closed to the public and media so that officials would feel free to “speak candidly.”

Perhaps the secretary didn’t know it, but we’ve been waiting months to hear our leaders speak candidly.

Candor would have been refreshing. Candor might have answered many of our questions. Candor might have cleared away some misgivings we have about our leaders.

There’s been so much talk lately about how our leaders aren’t working well together and aren’t singing in tune from a well-coordinated hymnal. We’ve heard worries that they’re not forceful or focused enough. We’ve been told they’re just not leading.

This very important meeting with a very important person could have put our locals leaders’ skills on display. Did they press for answers? They they decry delay? Did they push when it came to shove? I guess we’ll never know for sure.

But I do know that the flood affected thousands of people. Those people helped elect most of the people behind those closed doors. And I know public officials meeting with other public officials about public issues in private is not how this is supposed to work.

Instead, the public got some more happy talk. Napolitano’s escort, Gov. Chet Culver, said, “Our future is very bright.” Help is on the way.

Candidly, I’m less than convinced.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Sunday Column

  1. Spent 25 winters in Mesa Arizona and not surprised by Janet Naplitanos approach to her job for which she has 0 qualifications . She is well known a a consumate political hack and it was well illustrated by her visit here.
    Obama is a major dissapointment to date but can only hope for the best.

  2. Chet's #1 fan

    Heckuva job, Culver.

  3. JimD

    Helluva job, Nappy…

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