Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Governors

One of the things I've noticed while reading the coverage of the Flood of 2008 is the difference between Governors Chet Culver of Iowa and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin. Both states started to experience flooding damage at about the same time, and while Iowa's total damage is likely to be far worse, what caught my attention is how the respective governors of the two states responded.

Culver has been all over Iowa, visiting city after city and town after town, and the disaster declarations have been made as quickly as humanly possible, enabling fast access to both state and federal relief funds for these communities. Contrariwise, I've not seen nearly as much mention of Doyle visiting afflicted areas in Wisconsin, and from him I've seen, instead of announcements that federal disaster aid is already on the way, announcements that "they hope to have the declaration in place soon". It seems that fuddling disaster declarations is a trend for Doyle; in 2004 he had to negotiate for a redefinition of a disaster period because he got it wrong initially. This year, several counties had to lobby Doyle to declare disasters, and typically Doyle's declarations come three to five days later as Culver's, for counties that experienced flooding at the same time.

My understanding of the way federal disaster relief works is that the state's governor plays a critical role in the process. Why is it, then, that Chet Culver can do so much better a job of this than Jim Doyle?