T Nation

FEMA Chief Fired From Previous Job

Michael Brown oversaw horse shows, had no significant disaster experience
Posted: September 5, 2005
2:24 p.m. Eastern

? 2005 WorldNetDaily.com

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official in charge of the New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining FEMA as a deputy director in 2001, Mike Brown, the Republican Party activist, had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position. But the Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

"I look at FEMA and I shake my head,’’ a furious Gov. Mitt Romney told the Boston Herald, calling the response "an embarrassment.’’

Even President Bush, after touring the devastated area, said he was "not satisfied’’ with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Members of Congress predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.

Brown ? formerly an estates and family lawyer ? this week has made several public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

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.

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.

The White House last night defended Brown’s appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to "more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,’’ including last year’s record-setting hurricane season.

As WorldNetDaily reported, New Orleans’ local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, is blasting President Bush for his handling of response to Hurricane Katrina, and is calling for heads to roll within his administration.

“Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially,” the paper stated in an open letter to Bush in its Sunday edition…

So what are you trying to say? That Bush picked the wrong man when he nominated someone who couldn’t properly run a horse show to head FEMA?

Maybe, just maybe, this will affect the rampant use of political appointments to top spots as rewards (for both parties)… ?

Nah, I doubt it.

[quote]Soco wrote:
So what are you trying to say? That Bush picked the wrong man when he nominated someone who couldn’t properly run a horse show to head FEMA?
[/quote]

Do you really need the question mark at the end of your statement?

[quote]A~D wrote:

Do you really need the question mark at the end of your statement?[/quote]

Yup, added to the sarcasm.

I notice none of the usual right-wing suspects have posted about this one.

[quote]jlesk68 wrote:
As WorldNetDaily reported, New Orleans’ local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, is blasting President Bush for his handling of response to Hurricane Katrina, and is calling for heads to roll within his administration.

“Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially,” the paper stated in an open letter to Bush in its Sunday edition… [/quote]

I find this last part interesting only because there is no mention of the poor job local/state officials did in initially handling this situation… or in dealing with this potential decision previously. Did no one ever think there would be a problem with a port city on a coast consistently hit by hurricanes… oh, which is also under sea level protected from a huge lake by levees?

I don’t mean to absolve FEMA by any stretch of the imagination, but I find it might interesting that so little attention is being paid to what the locals could have done to mitigate or help prevent this kind of disaster. When I see their leaders screaming the loudest, I cannot help but think they are upping the volume to deflect a whole lot of blame.

Why not tell the whole story:

He has chaired the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority and served as a City Council member, examiner for the Oklahoma and Colorado supreme courts, and assistant city manager.
Defending his qualifications, Brown said he has overseen responses to 164 presidential declared emergencies and disasters as FEMA counsel and general counsel, including the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster and the California wildfires in 2003.
Previously, Mr. Brown served as FEMA’s Deputy Director and the agency’s General Counsel. Shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Mr. Brown served on the President’s Consequence Management Principal’s Committee, which acted as the White House’s policy coordination group for the federal domestic response to the attacks. Later, the President asked him to head the Consequence Management Working Group to identify and resolve key issues regarding the federal response plan. In August 2002, President Bush appointed him to the Transition Planning Office for the new Department of Homeland Security, serving as the transition leader for the EP&R Division.

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.

Mr. Brown was also an adjunct professor of law for the Oklahoma City University.

A native of Oklahoma, Mr. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration/Political Science from Central State University, Oklahoma. He received his J.D. from Oklahoma City University?s School of Law.

I’m not going to defend FEMA in any way, but I will say that FEMA’s role is clearly to “assist” in emergency situations. Placing the blame on FEMA before state and local officials is pretty ridiculous.

Here’s an excerp from the “City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.” Search for it on the Internet for a full read:

“The authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane is conferred to the Governor by Louisiana Statute. The Governor is granted the power to direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area within the State, if he deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery. The same power to order an evacuation conferred upon the Governor is also delegated to each political subdivision of the State by Executive Order. This authority empowers the chief elected official of New Orleans, the Mayor of New Orleans, to order the evacuation of the parish residents threatened by an approaching hurricane.”

If anything, we should realize that we can’t depend on a big, bloated centralized governement to provide for us. I wouldn’t trust the federal gov’t to provide my healthcare or plan for my retirement, let alone save me from a hurricane…

Nick

What are you saying?

The people were ordered to evacuate, they were repeatedly stating that there was a mandatory evacuation order on the news…

Well lets hope this does dampen it vroom… if the executive branch isn’t humiliated into flying straight nothing would solve this

wow, someone actually resurrected this post…