Sunday, March 25, 2012

Innumeracy in the News again

A town in Illinois got hit by a tornado, causing $3 million in damage.
News clip: A powerful tornado hit Harrisburg, Illinois, killing seven people and caused widespread damage throughout the town. Dean Reynolds reports on how the state will not be receiving nearly $3 million in relief aid from FEMA to help homeowners and renters. On the day that a tornado ripped through Harrisburg, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn surveyed the damage and tried to think ahead. "We have an emergency management agency and I signed a declaration, a state disaster declaration," Quinn said. "And I will ask the feds for assistance. You have to file a good application if you want federal assistance."
They got denied and everyone started screaming how awful it was that FEMA would do such a heinous act. Predictably, someone blamed the President. A couple of talking-heads compared it to Irene and wondered if Vermont's democratic leanings had something to do with it.

Let's compare that Illinois damage to what they pay their school superintendents, shall we? The 100 highest-paid school administrators in Illinois in 2006 (and now, with inflation and the inevitable raises, much more!) had salaries ranging from $205,590 to $380,227. (#1: Catalani Gary T $380,227 CUSD 200 to #17: Wolf Boyce J $256,380 ROCK FALLS TWP HSD 301.)  The total for the top 100: $23,000,000.

That's the cost of ONE salary from each district, six years ago. In 2011, the top two salaries were $402,000 and $411,000. source. Summary: the top 100 (from six years ago) of 1145 district account for 22 million.


Yeah, I think FEMA had this one right. Illinois can certainly afford it. Governor, shut up.

There used to be three lanes here, two up, one down.
There were five washouts this size in a two mile stretch.
Compare that to Irene in Vermont -- infrastructure damage could cost state $100 million. That's not including citizens' home and property damage. Many of my kids' homes were devastated, farmland ruined and crops destroyed. You can't sell food crop that's been flooded, you know, so the money was paid out all year for seed and fertilizer et. al., and then the only income is declared "spoil". FEMA sort of helped out; 10% - 20% of the cost of the replacement. Of the barn.

Farms were destroyed and crops ruined and whole sections of the state inaccessible due to washouts; farmers and contractors and citizens went out on their own initiative and used their own money and equipment to rebuild roadways, dredge and reconfigure streams and rivers, haul away trees and debris. The state had to come in to check and finish and pave, but a lot of that work was done by volunteers. Everyone helped out. The soccer team went door-to-door instead of to practice, even though school closed because no one could physically get there. Even the road contractors stopped leaning against their truck doors with cups of coffee - major bridges were rebuilt in weeks, roads like the one in the picture were rebuilt in days.

Since we used the schools as a proxy for our state wealth capability calculations: "On average, Vermont’s 60 superintendents earn $105,337 a year." That's all of them. $6 million. source.

1 comment:

  1. Is it a matter of "they can afford it" or is it a matter of following the law or not? On what basis can FEMA deny such a request? That's a pretty important component of the story.