Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Is this the new face of disaster relief??

Im stewing about an issue that should be so much lower on the “ do something useful for mankind today” totem poll today that it’s turning out to be.  

Perhaps it’s because I’m in Greece at the moment and here you can certainly get your fill of the Byzantine web of political infighting, nepotism, idiotic bureaucracy, and a little too much Retsina, to be at your best every day. 

The latest in FEMA dysfunction has hit my gender button (among others) and is messing with far more than my Aegean day.

FEMA Contract Called for 30 Million Meals for Puerto Ricans. 50,000 Were Delivered.

The facts as reported in the NYT

Immediately after apocalyptic Hurricane Harvey and Puerto Rico’s utter devastation, FEMA determined that at least 30 million meals were needed to be there right away. 

Who did they choose to meet this enormous challenge? 
Tiffany Brown, the sole proprietor of Tribute LLC. 

This is the website I found: She has a number of companies - some in fashion.

I quote the NYT,   

"Ms. Brown, who is adept at navigating the federal contracting system, hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey."

Comes Oct. 2017 Brown’s contract was ended  - why? 
Because she only had delivered 50,000 out of a total 30 million meals.  BTW the meals showed up separately packed from the heaters that people needed to make them eatable.

So, the moral of this story....
Yes, once again we see that, as with Hurricane Katrina, FEMA’s system for responding does not work.  They don’t seem to have vetted, proven contractors in place before disasters hit. 

Secondy - we don't know just how they chose Tyfanny Brown and Tribute LLC. 

It seems food service may not be Tribute’s thing.  Quoting the NYT again,Four cancellations involved the Federal Prison System, which found that Tribute failed to deliver meat, bakery, cereal and other food products to various correctional institutions.”

But here is what else has so soured my Aegean day, the devastated US citizens that needed to be fed backgrounded for a moment,

The art and crime of giving government contracts ( local and national) to insiders is nothing new.  I get it.  The “old boys” network – etched in our culture and capitalism, is not going away soon.

But now, it really does hit me that there is and will likely grow an “old gals” network of savvy female insiders, who have their fingers in the pot. 
According to Brown's multi-business website:

She has held positions with the United States Government Accountability

Office, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Georgia Law Center for the
Homeless, Georgia Conservation Voters, Supreme Court of Georgia, Equifax,
Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Atlanta Bar Association. Upon Graduation from
Walden University, she has truly impacted change as an academic and
practitioner. Dr. Brown is a former 2009 Write-in Atlanta Mayoral Candidate
and owner of 3 companies.

Tiffany Brown’s Tribute LLC, as far as I can tell, was certified as a Women Owned/Minority Owned Business ( WMBE).  Coincidentally my small consulting business is too.  *Disclaimer I don’t do food delivery, or claim to be able to feed any one besides myself and my dog on a regular basis. 

But I do respect, support and believe in the mission of the WMBE federal program.

  • “We promote equity and increase participation in public contracting and procurement for small businesses owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged persons through education and certification. 
  • Creating an environment where small businesses owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged persons have equal opportunity to participate in public contracting and procurement.

Emboldened by the #MeToo movement  - Yes. 
But I'm also sobered to be reminded again, that this is one of the ugly upshots of women getting ahead.  The age old tradeoff of ethics for ....what, status, power and money.  

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” -Maya Angelou