September 4, 2005

But his resume looked good...

There have been a lot of royal screwups with the many agencies handling the Katrina disaster -- some understandable, some not. FEMA seems to be being mentioned more and more in the stories of human suffering, royal screwups and outright incompetence and unpreparedness. The bad news starts at the top -- it seems that Mike Brown has had a bit of a checkered career. The Boston Herald has the story:
Brown pushed from last job: Horse group: FEMA chief had to be 'asked to resign'
The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.

The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

The agency, run by Brown since 2003, is now at the center of a growing fury over the handling of the New Orleans disaster.

"I look at FEMA and I shake my head, said a furious Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday, calling the response "an embarrassment."

President Bush, after touring the Big Easy, said he was "not satisfied" with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

And U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.

Brown - formerly an estates and family lawyer - this week has has made several shocking 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, 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.

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.
Sure, the White House will defend him at this moment but I bet there will be an assistant assigned to him in the next day or so and he will announce his retirement in a few months for "family reasons". Sure, he did OK in 164 declared disasters but these were small area and small scale -- he should have been able to deal with Katrina. There were enough projections and scenarios to show what could happen and he probably had the budget for some dang-good advisers -- he should have listened to them. Mike Brown dropped the ball here... Posted by DaveH at September 4, 2005 10:21 PM