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Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
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September 20, 2005

Who Will Audit the Red Cross?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

NOTE: A few days after this appeared the Los Angeles Times published a long opinion piece calling the Red Cross a "Money Pit.".
redcrosslogo.jpgEveryone is on the Red Cross bandwagon these days.

But that was not the case before Katrina. The Red Cross was fiercely criticized for its reaction to 9-11. The criticism was bipartisan.

All was forgotten once Katrina hit. The only alternatives offered for giving wre overtly-religious organizations, ranging from the Salvation Army to Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing (number two on the Administration's hit parade).

Besides, you've got to figure, this was really more up the Red Cross' alley than 9-11, which in the end only took out the center of a well-insured central city, and completely displaced only a few tens of thousands. This was different, not just New Orleans but the parishes around it, and Mississippi all the way up to Jackson.

So how are they doing?

In DeKalb County, Georgia, where I live, CEO Vernon Jones (that's the title we have for heads of government in the county -- silly ain't it?) actually kicked the Red Cross outta town, ordering them to vacate a "mega-shelter" in Lithonia, saying they were doing a horrible job. Operations in Houston have also been harshly criticized. A site called Raw Story has even charged the Red Cross with withholding aid to New Orleans itself, in concert with FEMA, which wanted the area evacuated.

Is any of this true? I don't know. What I do know is people should demand a complete audit of everything the Red Cross has done, and has not done, during this disaster.

Would an efficient government response, organized through a special agency, say FEMA, have done better?

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | History | Politics | medicine


1. Steve Barton on September 21, 2005 12:16 PM writes...


See today's AJC:

One way to read this additional information:

1) To great fanfare, Vernon Jones announces "One Stop Center" in DeKalb;
2) Big crowds come to the center with 25 agencies/businesses there, but the only big lines are at the Red Cross station (maybe they are the ones providing the best assistance and putting the most dollars into the hands of the evacuees, eh?);
3) DeKalb County gov't puts the bite on the Red Cross, asking for some of those good, donated dollars to defray the costs of line management at the Red Cross station and other admin expenses(!);
4) The Red Cross declines to use charity relief dollars to pay for Vernon Jones's celebrated One Stop Center;
5) With righteous outrage (and much press notice), Vernon Jones kicks out the (deadbeat) Red Cross, saying their operations are a disgrace;
6) The AJC reports on several evacuees who are looking for Red Cross help (they must provide the best help, eh?), and notes that the newly Red-Cross-free One Stop Center in DeKalb has no lines at all now and rows of empty folding chairs.

I don't know the whole truth either, but I do know that the evacuees in DeKalb, who are probably mostly located in central and south DeKalb, now have to go to Cobb or Gwinnett to get Red Cross help. That's some great service we (I live in Dunwoody) in DeKalb are providing.

Also, in your post you refer to the Lithonia operation as a "shelter." It is not; it is an administrative center.

All the best, Steve Barton

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2. an observer on September 26, 2005 01:35 AM writes...

Perhaps the fact that the LA times article is written by the head of another charity colors its views.

The red cross is audited every year. For something unbiased try the charity navigator. They offer actual research not ill informed opinion.

Would FEMA do better? you have to be kidding right?

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