While everyone was wringing their hands over whether or not small town Pennsylvanians were bitter, or whether or not Barack Obama may have been one hell of a radical when he was eight years old, George W. Bush was meeting with the Pope and nominating yet another crony to his Cabinet, this time as HUD Secretary, at a time when the entire housing market is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Quietly, and almost without fanfare, Bush nominated Steve Preston as HUD Secretary, after spending one year at the Small Business Administration, where he had been appointed last year to replace yet another Bush crony, Hector Barreto, who had been forced to resign due to — wait for it — mismanagement. The SBA under Barreto had been slammed by the GSA for poor performance, especially when it came to disaster loans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
See, here’s the funny (okay, it’s not funny, really, but I do find myself laughing anyway) part. You see, old Hector wasn’t up to the job, because his only qualifications were being a fundraiser and loyal supporter of Bush. So, when he screwed up, and was pretty much forced out due to mismanagement, who better to replace him than Steve Preston, right? After all, Steve Preston had raised even MORE money for Bush, and was MORE loyal than Hector.
That should have fixed the problems at the SBA (he said sarcastically) but alas, it didn’t. In the two year s, almost to the day, since Preston took over the SBA, nothing has changed. It is still being slammed for mismanagement, especially when it comes to disaster relief. It’s puzzling, though, because no one could have imagined such a thing. Well, all except the American Small Business League, who put out the following statement just before the Republican Senate rubber stamped him as head of the SBA:
“We don’t need another unqualified SBA Administrator. Hector
Barreto’s dismal track record is a clear indication of what happens
when you appoint someone that has no qualifications to run an important
Federal agency. I’m afraid this nomination signals a continuation of
the Bush administration’s intention to continue to dismantle the agency."
This time, Preston will be replacing the illustrious Alphonso Jackson, who is being forced to resign because of — wait for it — political favoritism and a criminal investigation. In the Bush Administration? Perish the thought.
Steve Preston’s qualifications to be HUD Secretary are, um, let’s see… I think he’s owned a house before.
No, seriously; Preston was a CFO at ServiceMaster, and once served as senior vice president and treasurer at
First Data Corporation, where he created a $1.2 billion hedging
program. Before that, he was an investment banker at
the Lehman Brothers. Okay, well, at least that’s a heftier resume than old Hector, his predecessor at SBA. Hector’s work experience prior to running SBA into the ground consisted of running his family’s restaurant. No, I’m not making that up.
Folks, is it too much to ask that the president, in his last eight months in office, nominate someone to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who has at least some knowledge of either Housing OR Urban Development?
It’s kind of late, but can’t the Senate please put an and to the cronyism for these last months?
And I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the presidential candidates promise to only hire people for Cabinet positions who are experts in the field, and who have at least tried to represent the public interest.