Sunday, September 04, 2005

Is Mike Brown Qualified for FEMA job?

An elderly woman searches for water in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, LA. US troops began the final search for hurricane survivors in New Orleans and braced for the gruesome task of harvesting the dead from the city's flooded streets.(AFP/Robert Sullivan)
FEMA director's former jobs were as lawyer, failed congressional candidate, and "Czar" of International Arabian Horse Association.


"He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm," said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency-management chief. "The world that this man operated in and the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience."

Brown, an attorney, ran for Congress in 1988 and won 27 percent of the vote against Democratic incumbent Glenn English. He spent the 1990s as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. His job was to ensure that horse-show judges followed the rules and to investigate allegations against those suspected of cheating.

"I wouldn't have regarded his position in the horse industry as a platform to where he is now," said Tom Connelly, a former association president.

Brown's ticket to FEMA was Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's 2000 campaign manager and an old friend of Brown's in Oklahoma. When Bush ran for president in 2000, Brown was ending a rocky tenure at the horse association.

Brown told several association officials that, if Bush were elected, he would be in line for a good job. When Allbaugh, who managed Bush's campaign, took over FEMA in 2001, he took Brown with him as general counsel.


"He just wouldn't follow instruction," said Bill Pennington, another former association president. "Mike was bullheaded, and he was gonna do it his way. Period."

Great. Another John Bolton.

At FEMA, Brown rose from general counsel to deputy director within one year. Bush named him to succeed Allbaugh in February 2003. With FEMA now part of the Department of Homeland Security, Brown's title is undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response.


Despite the withering criticism and a promised congressional investigation of FEMA's performance, Brown still has the support of the president.

In Mobile, Ala., on Friday, Bush said the response to Katrina was unsatisfactory. But he had nothing but praise for his FEMA director. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," the president said.


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