According to an AP wire story by Ted Bridis, former horse-show manager and current FEMA director Mike Brown… Wait a minute! What was that?
The FEMA web site gives Mike Brown’s history as follows:
Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Brown practiced law in Colorado and Oklahoma, where he served as a bar examiner on ethics and professional responsibility for the Oklahoma Supreme Court and as a hearing examiner for the Colorado Supreme Court. He had been appointed as a special prosecutor in police disciplinary matters. While attending law school he was appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee of the Oklahoma Legislature as the Finance Committee Staff Director, where he oversaw state fiscal issues. His background in state and local government also includes serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight and as a city councilman.
Now, I had rather assumed that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had some background in, well, emergency management. Not to disrespect any of the fine legal bloggers I read every day, but when the levee breaks, my first thought is not that I’ve got to call a lawyer for help. Brown’s only emergency experience seems to be his oversight of emergency services for a city they don’t bother to name.
This is disappointing. But it gets worse. The Boston Herald is reporting that Brown’s official history is missing an item:
Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders’ and horse-show organization based in Colorado.
“We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,” explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner’s office. “This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,” she added.
Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.
“He was asked to resign,” Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.
Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president’s re-election campaign.
Yeah. Fired from running horse shows.
According to an AP wire story by Ted Bridis, former horse-show manager and current FEMA director Mike Brown didn’t request additional personnel until several hours after Katrina made landfall:
WASHINGTON – The government’s disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region—and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.
Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to “convey a positive image” about the government’s response for victims.
I’m thinking that whole “positive image” thing isn’t working out for them.
Of course, what’s the point of taking your time to send help when other people are more on the ball? Gotta do something about that:
The same day Brown wrote Chertoff, Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments. Brown said it was vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts.
And when you do get rescue workers from outside, you wouldn’t want their heroic efforts to overshadow your big important government agency:
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters – his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week – a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.