News: Michael Brown Removed from Role in Managing Katrina Relief

News sites are reporting all over that Michael Brown has been relieved in his role of managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In my opinion, this is a good first step.

But, I do have to ask — what's the value in having the head of FEMA not working on the major disaster at-hand? FNC is reporting that he will still be the head of FEMA.

Update: Chertoff says in press conference that Michael Brown “did everything he could do” — had we had someone with stronger background in emergency management and disaster response, I think we could've had someone who could have, and more importantly, would have, done a lot more.

FEMA Director Strikes Again

According to this article at MSNBC, Michael Brown (who I wrote about the other day) waited for FIVE HOURS after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast before writing a memo to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. Five hours to request 1,000 workers to arrive; and he gave them two days to get there.

From the MSNBC article (emphasis mine):

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.

Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as “this near catastrophic event” but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, “Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.”

… Brown's memo told employees that among their duties, they would be expected to “convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public.”

“FEMA response and recovery operations are a top priority of the department and as we know, one of yours,” Brown wrote Chertoff. He proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days.

… 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.

This guy has got to go.

The “Good Old Boy” Network

Loads of news stations are now reporting on the outstanding r{e'}sum{e'} of the current FEMA director, Michael Brown. His r{e'}sum{e'} is outstanding – if you're a fan of Arabian Horses. Seems that prior to joining FEMA, Michael Brown was a commisioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. For nine years. I'd say that makes him perfectly capable of running FEMA. Of course, he did score a great position as legal counsel to FEMA after leaving the IAHA, “following a dispute over a contribution to the group's legal defense fund.” Seems his way in was by knowing people:

Brown's ticket to FEMA was Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's 2000 campaign manager and an old friend of Brown's in Oklahoma. Brown told several horse association officials that if Bush were elected, he'd be in line for a good job.

In his nine years as a commissioner with the International Arabian Horse Association, which has since changed its name, Brown oversaw judges in the often-controversial and high-priced world of Arabian horse competitions.

Former association board member Karl V. Hart of Florida alleges that in 2000 Brown improperly accepted a check for nearly $50,000 from a prominent breeder and put it toward his own legal defense for his work as commissioner. Board members thought this was improper because Brown already had protection, from the association's legal team, Hart said.

Because of the money dispute, Brown was asked to resign, Hart said.

The Denver Post has coverage here.