Jackson says he's stepping down to attend to personal and family matters, but the Associated Press notes:
His resignation as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development comes after two influential senators said his ability to oversee a federal program to help homeowners facing foreclosure had been undermined by ongoing grand jury and housing inspector general investigations into alleged sweetheart deals.
One issue is Jackson's role in granting contracts for friends at housing authorities in New Orleans and the Virgin Islands and accusations by Philadelphia housing officials that HUD moved to deny financing in retaliation for the city's refusal to sell land to a friend of Jackson's.
Read other accounts from The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Reuters.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, his tenure tarnished by allegations of political favoritism and a criminal investigation, announced his resignation Monday amid the wreckage of the national housing crisis.
He leaves behind a trail of unanswered questions about whether he tilted the Department of Housing and Urban Development toward Republican contractors and cronies.
The move comes at a shaky time for the economy, with soaring mortgage foreclosures imperiling the nation's credit markets.
And while there's an ongoing debate as to whether the adoption of the new policy will help the wetlands, the AP story offers this kicker:
The Bush administration announced requirements Monday that would encourage developers to compensate for the destruction of wetlands or streams by paying for the restoration or creation of wetlands elsewhere, sometimes many miles away.
The approach, which emphasizes linking wetlands destruction and replacement efforts across expansive watersheds, has been a contentious issue since it was proposed two years ago.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the regulation's final approval Monday, saying it will help replace wetlands and streams that are unavoidably destroyed or severely impacted in construction or other activities.
The EPA and Army Corps said the new rules will increase public participation in the process and require increased monitoring of mitigation projects.And in New Orleans, The New York Times reports that a year after city officials there announced that they had finally devised a plan to rebuild the city nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina struck, nothing's happening:
Shortly before the new rule was proposed in 2006, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, found that the Army Corps could not ensure that 40,000 acres of wetland restoration work, required annually, was actually being done.
There has been nothing to signal a transformation in the sea of blight and abandonment that still defines much of the city. Weary and bewildered residents, forced to bring back the hard-hit city on their own, have searched the plan’s 17 “target recovery zones” for any sign that the city’s promises should not be consigned to the municipal filing cabinet, along with their predecessors. On their one-year anniversary, the designated “zones” have hardly budged. ...
The growing frustration points up what has been a recurring theme in New Orleans’s sketchy, on-again, off-again recovery from Hurricane Katrina: grandiose official promises, apparently made to lift the public’s morale, that soon prove unrealistic. ...
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