September 08, 2005
In crisis there is opportunity

After the nice things I said about Governor Perry earlier, it kind of restores my faith to see a story like this.

Gov. Rick Perry, in hurricane relief tours around the state, in news releases and on his official state Web site, has urged Texans to contribute to three groups: the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the OneStar Foundation.

The last of those is a volunteer-coordinating effort founded by Mr. Perry. His prominent promotion of his own foundation has prompted some to question whether the governor is trying to benefit politically from the outpouring of sympathy and good works in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Mr. Perry created OneStar as a nonprofit charitable organization in January 2004 to coordinate faith-based initiatives and promote volunteerism. Its chief executive is Susan Weddington, who left the state Republican Party chairmanship to run the organization.


Through legislation, the governor placed his divisions of faith-based initiatives, adult mentoring and the AmeriCorps volunteer program in the OneStar Foundation. It operates with federal grant money.

In the past several months, Ms. Weddington and Mr. Perry have been featured speakers of the Texas Restoration Project, a statewide effort to unite churches and organize their membership to vote in coming elections.

Mr. Perry's picture is prominent throughout OneStar's Web site, which says the foundation was "birthed from the heart and vision of Governor Rick Perry."

Ms. Weddington said that her office is serving as a clearinghouse for evacuee relief efforts, trying to connect donated goods with those who need them through the Texas Responds Web page, part of the OneStar site.

"Obviously, the governor tapped us because we do work for and on behalf of the state," she said. "This is the logical place."


Suzii Paynter, director of citizenship for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said OneStar has done a good job of coordinating the huge influx of donation efforts. The foundation's Web page has taken information and made it available to groups throughout the state, she said.

"Rick Perry has never lacked for photo-ops. But there is a huge need for money and donations that can be used in this state that don't need to go through the big national organizations," Ms. Paynter said.

She said that while there might be some political aspect to it, One- Star is also fulfilling a tremendous need.

"Does it look like that there might be an incidental self-serving aspect to it? Perhaps. My experience with politicians is that if you give them a handle, they'll grab it," she said.

This is just a reminder to me why mixing charity and politics is a bad idea. Maybe the OneStar Foundation is everything it's cracked up to be and more. Maybe it really is the logical place to route this kind of work. Maybe if this were all happening in 2007 with Chris Bell in the Governor's mansion, the OneStar Foundation would still be doing this work. I don't know. What I do know is that we've seen politicians use charitable organizations and fundraisers for their own benefit before. They do this because there's no requirement to report who gives money to a charity, so they can avert some campaign finance laws. What assurances do I have, other than Kathy Walt telling me that politics has nothing, NOTHING I TELL YOU, to do with this, that OneStar is on the up and up?

What I'm getting at is this: Charity and politics should be separate. Especially in a situation like this, it's just too suspicious otherwise. Link via Tex Prodigy.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 08, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

If repeat is permissable, this goes much better with the topic at hand.

They act fast when they want to be fast...

Bush crony catastrophe contracts bonanza-these guys are always one step ahead of you.

September 07, 2005 -- 02:27 AM EDT

THESE GUYS ARE always one step ahead of you.
Back on Monday I told you how the Bush crony catastrophe contracts bonanza would be so big it might even tempt Bush fixer Joe Allbaugh to bring his influence-peddling racket back stateside.
Well, as TPM Reader JV points out, that ship's already sailed.

This article from the September 1st edition of the Post noted that Allbaugh was already in Louisiana "helping coordinate the private-sector response to the storm."

Now, if you figure that an article that appeared on the September 1st was probably reported out on Wednesdy August 31st, perhaps this is one of those cases that show how the public sector just can't match the pace of the private sector, seeing as Allbaugh seems to have beaten most of the folks from FEMA, the agency he ran before handing it off to Michael Brown, into the disaster area.

I also must confess that I'd been so focused on Allbaugh's Iraq operation, that I had lost track of what he was up to on the domestic rain-making activities....

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on September 8, 2005 2:06 PM

Charles, Thanks for posting the link last weekend for techie help. Hope and I have been down there since Tuesday and that seems to be the area that needs the most help. It's ironic that so many great resources that are available online are inaccessible to the ones who need it the most, either they have no internet access or they don't have the skills to access them. The public computer banks at the Austin Convention Center have helped to reunite families and apply for aid online, with the help of the volunteers who responded for tech help. There weren't many people there Tuesday or yesterday but today there was plenty of help. It was great to see! Take care! Eileen

Posted by: Eileen on September 8, 2005 3:12 PM