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HUD Secretary Departs Amidst Charges of Cronyism and Extravagance
By Mike Fak(18,246)
Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by Mike Fak
Alphonso Jackson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, couldn’t play the string out until his boss; President Bush was finished with his term. The man, who many claim was heavily responsible for the mortgage meltdown resigned as charges of his giving lucrative FHA housing contracts to friends in both the Virgin Islands and New Orleans continue to surface.
Jackson, who was considered by most as a rubber stamp to the President’s push to increase home ownership, allowed policies of zero down payments and no checking of FHA approved lender’s practices and leaves with little praise from his own department let alone outsiders.
Among the information now surfacing on Jackson is that he deemed his position not unlike a feudal lord. He required a full maximum security detail which opponents note often was used as an entourage to carry his baggage and make sure he received as much notoriety for his attending an event as anyone on the hill.
The man had enough hubris to actually have his own personal chef to make sure he had gourmet meals wherever and whenever he traveled. Yes, we paid for the chef.
To show just how much disdain Jackson had for taxpayer dollars, he authorized a $7 million dollar renovation of the cafeteria, turning it into what some call a dining area that would make a petty third world leader blush with envy.
Jackson also had the nerve to waive bidding processes by declaring a commission of oil paintings for himself and four of his friends at HUD, as an emergency bid. Of course having your painting done is certainly an emergency isn’t it. Perhaps it is when you have to resign in a hurry before someone starts asking questions on whether you received kickbacks on government bids.
One consumer watchdog critic claims the building renovations and paintings are all part of Jackson building a shrine to himself. The problem is his reign as secretary will forever be linked to one of the greatest events of greed and failed policies in the history of America.
All the while economists were starting to ask questions about the sub prime mortgage problems, Jackson was telling FHA officials to not slow down the boom of new mortgage holders that his boss the president was bragging about at a time when nothing else was going very well. It is this failure of the FHA to even raise a red flag two years ago that allowed the mortgage fiasco to continue until nothing was left but abandoned houses, bankrupt Americans and construction workers looking for jobs in the fast food industry.
The proof of the complete lack of policing by the agency came to a head when Detroit officials quickly won a $41 million dollar judgment against an FHA approved mortgage lender for falsifying mortgage documents in order to make money off of the FHA and over their head, home buyers. The investigation only took a few months and City officials stated the tactics were so obviously apparent that it didn’t even take a serious investigation to uncover the unfair lending practices.
This total disregard to controlling the part of the economy Jackson’s department was responsible for, shows in an audit that states two thirds of the charges of unfair lending practices were not even followed up by HUD officials.
The furor for Jackson to resign reached a head last week when he refused to answer Senator’s questions concerning friends receiving lucrative no bid contracts to build FHA backed housing. The charges carried enough merit that a federal grand jury is currently looking into whether Jackson is guilty of lining his pockets with bribes regarding said contracts.
This man does deserve an oil painting. It belongs in the Leavenworth Federal Prison Hall of Fame. One just hopes there is enough room for it as well as others to come. So many paintings yet to be done, so little wall space for them all.
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Posted to ProBlogs.com on Tuesday, April 15, 2008
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