Monday, September 12, 2005

never forget the mismanagement

i read the story about the mismanagement of the 9/11 relief fund last night, but it doesn't seem to be getting a lot of attention in the wake of hurricane katrina and the john roberts nomination. or maybe it is, but just not on the sites i've been reading. but today's indystar has an editorial stating that the katrina relief money better not be mishandled in the way that the 9/11 money was. of course, given the bonanza of cronyism and cushy reconstruction contracts that is going on, we know that some of that katrina money will not be very well spent... but we can still hope it isn't spent quite as poorly as the 9/11 moneys.

i'm looking for the version of the article that i read last night; that version actually mentioned that "indianapolis-based union federal" bank was one of the banks that mishandled the relief money. i haven't found it yet, but here is a version of the article from the south bend tribune (emphasis mine):

The government's $5 billion effort to help small businesses recover from the Sept. 11 attacks was so loosely managed that it gave low-interest loans to companies that didn't need terrorism relief -- or even know they were getting it, The Associated Press has found.

And while some at New York's Ground Zero couldn't get assistance they desperately sought, companies far removed from the devastation -- a South Dakota country radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique and more than 100 Dunkin' Donuts and Subway sandwich shops -- had no problem winning the government-guaranteed loans.

"That's scary. Sept. 11 had nothing to do with this," said James Munsey, a Virginia entrepreneur who described himself as "beyond shocked" to learn his nearly $1 million loan to buy a special events company in Richmond was drawn from the 9/11 program.

"It would have been inappropriate for me to take this kind of loan," he said, stating the company he bought suffered no ill effects from Sept. 11

okay... still haven't found the exact version of the article that i was thinking of, but here's one from the washington post with the headline Indiana Companies Benefited From 9/11 Loans:

Indiana withstood the economic hits of Sept. 11, 2001, better than many states.

But 139 Indiana businesses — including trucking companies, photographers, gyms, bars and dental offices — still sought almost $36 million in federal loans from programs created to offset financial damages from the terrorist attacks.

139 businesses in indiana! a utah dog boutique! a south dakota country station! and never forget those poor dunkin donuts and subway restaurants across the nation...

still more from the post:

An AP computer analysis showed fewer than 11 percent of the 19,000 loans approved nationwide for post-Sept. 11 recovery went to companies in New York City and Washington.

Adams said his trucking company barely saw a drop in business after the terrorist attacks. Yet it received a $1.3 million debt-consolidation loan through Union Federal Bank in December 2002 — the second largest lump-sum of any business in the state.

Pat Schubah, first vice president of small business banking at Indianapolis-based Union Federal, said the bank didn't disclose the conditions of the loan, which was paid off in January 2005.

"We don't have any indication there was any communication or provisions we shared with the client that these were funds from the government used to support them from Sept. 11," Schubah said.
Indiana's largest loan recipient was a Super 8 motel in Michigan City, which was approved for nearly $1.4 million in July 2002. Owners and managers did not return multiple messages left by The Associated Press.

Other businesses approved for loans included five hair salons, two car washes, three bars, two gyms, two florists, 20 restaurants and chiropractors, dentists, doctors, optometrists and veterinarians.

this is truly disgusting. only 11% of the loan money went to actual businesses in new york and washington dc? sure, i can accept that some businesses elsewhere were harmed by the damage to tourism, etc, so a few loans going out to non-NY/DC business would be okay. but 89%?

and to be sure, union federal bank was not the only bank to misuse the money. not by a longshot. but they sure misused the hell out of a shitload of that money. way to go, jerks.

so if you got a small business loan in the last four years, maybe you should check into whether that money was actually supposed to go to 9/11 victims. you might be profiting from their tragedy and not even know it.

and if you're looking for a small business loan in the future, and you happen to have no ethical standards at all, you can probably get a piece of that hurricane katrina money... even if you run a subway restaurant hundreds of miles away.

eat your heart out, jared!

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