Thursday, May 11, 2006

New from HUD - Subsidies for Bridges in Brooklyn

There has been some controversy over an account related by Secretary Alphonso Jackson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in which he related how he was going to award a lucrative contract to a person but changed his mind when that person expressed that he did not like President Bush.
"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."
Jackson doesn't deny saying it - he just says that it didn't happen, and he put the joke in the first person to make it funnier. Joke? That's what Jackson's spokesperson, Dustee Tucker, told the Chicago Tribune:
"You know when you tell a joke you put yourself in first person, for delivery," she said. "You say I was on this train and so and so did this even if you know it wasn't a train. The secretary was putting himself in that first person to make the story more effective...
Wow. He's a funny guy. This part of the explanation is more telling:
"So he was offering an anecdote to say, this is how politics works in DC. In DC people won't just stab you in the back, they'll stab you in the front. And so the secretary's point was a hypothetical, what he said was an anecdote. It did not happen."
Oh... so it didn't happen, but it could have happened had somebody been so foolish as to express disagreement with President Bush, and thus it was important to advise the members of the Dallas Real Estate group that they shouldn't disclose any dislike for Bush if they want government contracts.... with some other agency where this could happen (if things like this happened, but they don't). (Are your eyes rolling yet?)

According to that Tribune piece,
The main message Tucker wanted to leave me with was that Jackson didn't yank anyone's contract because he vehemently disagreed with the Bush administration. Several times she said Jackson had nothing to do with contracting. That was done elsewhere in the department.
And certainly it is impossible that anybody in the agency would be influenced by the position of the Secretary, let alone take instruction from the Secretary.

Does he need a better story? A better spokesperson?

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