If you visit Washington, DC; be sure to check out the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) headquarters building. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson has installed an impressive photographic tribute to a man he considers to be an outstanding public servant and a great American. That man is none other than Alphonso Jackson, himself.
Large (2 feet by 3 feet) photographs of Mr. Jackson cover an entire wall of the main entrance lobby, and another photo-display adorns the building’s northeast-corner entrance. There are photographs of Jackson giving speeches, Jackson looking pensive, Jackson in a helicopter, Jackson at a construction site, etc...; and several photographs of Jackson with his old friend and neighbor from Texas, George W. Bush. (The Washington Post, 2/20/08)
If you want to see Secretary Jackson’s tribute to himself, you should go soon, because he (and his tribute) may not last to the end of the Bush’s lame duck term. In April 2006, Secretary Jackson bragged to a business group that he had once canceled a HUD contract just because the recipient had criticized President Bush. This resulted in Jackson being called before Congress to explain his understanding of how HUD contracts should be awarded. (National Journal, 10/3/07)
Jackson claimed, “I do not interfere with any contract that is given in HUD -- period.” (Which means Secretary Jackson lied to the business group.) When pressed on the issue by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Secretary Jackson reiterated, “I don’t touch contracts.”--and Jackson issued this challenge to the Senator:
· “Senator, I have not touched one contract; not one. Now, if you can prove that I interfered with a contract, then you should do that.”
The Senator took Secretary Jackson up on that challenge, and now HUD Inspector General Kenneth Donohue, the FBI, a federal grand jury, and prosecutors from the Justice Department are investigating whether Jackson misled Congress when he testified “I don’t touch contracts.”
Based on information gathered from current and former housing officials, other sources, and government documents, investigators at National Journal have determined:
· At least four associates of Jackson have benefited from contracts awarded at the New Orleans and Virgin Islands housing authorities.
· ...Jackson has helped to arrange lucrative contract work running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for friends and associates who went to work at HUD-controlled housing authorities in New Orleans and the Virgin Islands, according to people familiar with his actions. ...[O]ne of Jackson’s good friends, Atlanta lawyer Michael Hollis, appears to have been paid approximately $1 million for managing the troubled Virgin Islands Housing Authority. Before landing at the authority, some sources said, Hollis had no experience in running a public housing agency.
In response to reporters’ questions, Secretary Jackson’s office uses the standard Bush Administration answer-- the Secretary will “have no comment until the investigation is concluded.” Experience tells us that there will be no comment after the investigation either; but by then, Mr. Jackson will have passed through the government’s revolving door and be a highly-paid lobbyist of some sort.
Speaking of undeserved tributes, it appears that George W. Bush’s Presidential Library will be located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU), despite protests from SMU faculty, administrators and staff--who expressed their feelings in a letter to SMU’s Board of Trustees (12/16/07):
· “We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.... [T]hese violations are antithetical to the teaching, scholarship, and ethical thinking that best represents Southern Methodist University.”
George W. Bush’s Library will differ from other Presidential Libraries in two important ways: It will host an “institute” to promote Bush’s “vision” and “celebrate” his presidency; and Mr. Bush will be allowed to censure the materials made available in the library--thus reducing it to no more than a propaganda tool for rewriting the history of his presidency. ...Iraq war? What Iraq War?
· “The whole purpose of a library is for unfettered, unbiased, critically reflective academic inquiry into the administration of a given presidency. It’s not to cheer-lead for a particular president. It’s not to be groupies. We all know very well that this institute--which has no lines of accountability to the faculty--is about getting some scholars lined up to put window dressing on the presidency of George Bush.”--Susanne Johnson, Associate Professor of Christian education at SMU, Inside Higher Ed, 2/25/08
What did you expect from George W. Bush--the truth?