Wednesday, March 14, 2007


From AP:

The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush's promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The 2006 hurricane season turned out to be mild, and the new pumps were never pressed into action. But the Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly.

The pumps are now being pulled out and overhauled because of excessive vibration, Corps officials said. Other problems have included overheated engines, broken hoses and blown gaskets, according to the documents obtained by the AP....

And how did the Corps come by these pumps?

The drainage-canal pumps were custom-designed and built under a $26.6 million contract awarded after competitive bidding to Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

...MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved....

Yup -- the Justice Department was looking into MWI's Nigeria deal as far back as 1999. That clearly appalled Jeb Bush so much that MWI was awarded a series of contracts in Florida in which competitive bidding was waived and MWI was able to write its own specs. (This was reported by the St. Petersburg Times a few weeks after the paper reported that MWI's Eller "twice flew suitcases of cash to offshore tax havens to hide his assets," according to the Justice Department's lawsuit.)

Oh, and guess how they're going to correct the situation in New Orleans? Let's go back to the AP story:

In the meantime, the Corps has paid MWI $4.5 million for six additional pumps and will use them to troubleshoot the defective ones....

That's right -- MWI's pumps are being used to test MWI's pumps. Nice how that worked out.


BY THE WAY ... I linked to the Newsday version of the AP story because Newsday's links, unlike those at Yahoo News, tend not to expire after a week. Hey, Memeorandum, if I also link the Yahoo News version, will you link this post, so maybe a few more people will read it?

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