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  1. #1
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    Feb 2005
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    FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell

    This is so sad it's almost funny. Note: I said "almost".
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    FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell

    By ERIC LIPTON

    WASHINGTON, April 1 — The calls went out across the nation, as Bush administration officials asked the country's most seasoned disaster response experts to consider the job of a lifetime: FEMA director. But again and again, the response over the past several months was the same: "No thanks."

    Unconvinced that the administration is serious about fixing the Federal Emergency Management Agency or that there is enough time actually to get it done before President Bush's second term ends, seven of these candidates for director or another top FEMA job said in interviews that they had pulled themselves out of the running.

    "You don't take the fire chief job after someone has burned down the city unless you are going to be able to do it in the right fashion," said Ellis M. Stanley, general manager of emergency planning in Los Angeles, who said he was one of those called.

    Now, with the next hurricane season only two months away, the Bush administration has finally come up with a convenient but somewhat embarrassing solution. Mr. Bush, several former and current FEMA officials said, intends to nominate R. David Paulison, a former fire official who has been filling in for the past seven months, to take on the job permanently.

    "To a lot of people that would be an insult," said Craig Fugate, the top emergency management official in Florida, who said he also had been interviewed but then withdrew his name. "They have been publicly out looking at how many different names and everyone turned it down and they come back and ask you?"

    The list of emergency managers who have spurned requests to be considered for FEMA director or another top post represents a who's who in the small, close-knit field.

    Besides Mr. Stanley and Mr. Fugate, they include Richard Andrews, the former homeland security adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California; Ellen M. Gordon, former homeland security advisor in Iowa; Dale W. Shipley of Ohio and Eric Tolbert of North Carolina, two former top FEMA officials who also served as the top emergency managers in their home states; and Bruce P. Baughman, the president of the National Emergency Management Association, as well as the top disaster planning official in Alabama.

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has acknowledged the difficulty of finding a permanent replacement for Michael D. Brown, who resigned in September after widespread criticism of his management of the response to Hurricane Katrina, as well as filling other senior posts at the agency and hundreds of lower-level jobs. Today, of the 30 most senior jobs, 11 are filled by officials appointed on an acting basis, including the administrators in charge of such critical functions as operations, disaster recovery and disaster response.

    "You've got to be able to attract people," Mr. Chertoff told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month. "And I will not deny that certainly I think when there is a lot of negative publicity, it doesn't make a lot of people want to migrate."

    The search has now gone on so long that Representative Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Homeland Department's budget, threatened on Wednesday to hold up action on the budget bill until the top administrative posts at FEMA were filled.

    The director's job, Mr. Rogers said, may be a post "people like to throw mud at," but seven months after Hurricane Katrina is too long to wait. "Let the word go forth from this place that we want a permanent director of FEMA and we want these regional directors and division directors to stop acting and be permanent,"he said. "Because I want somebody responsible that we can turn to."

    Mr. Paulison, 59, does not have the same depth of experience in running a large statewide emergency management organization that most of the other candidates have. But he is certainly not new to the field.

    Most of his career was spent at the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department, where he was chief from 1992 until 2001 and responded to emergencies including Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the crash of a ValuJet plane in the Everglades in 1996. Mr. Bush named him the United States fire administrator in 2001, and two years later he also became FEMA's director of preparedness.

    Since taking over at FEMA, Mr. Paulison, who has a low-key, easy-going style, has shuttled between the Gulf Coast and Washington, helping the agency on what is now its No. 1 goal: preparing for the next hurricane season, which starts on June 1.

    But he clearly has left it up to Mr. Chertoff to make any major policy announcements on how the agency is being "retooled" to address the widespread failures at FEMA that the Bush administration acknowledges occurred during Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Paulison has indicated that he is prepared, if asked, to remain in the job on a permanent basis.

    "I serve at the pleasure of the president and do what he asks me to do," he told the House subcommittee on Wednesday, when asked if he would be staying in the job.

    Several emergency managers, including those who were considered for the job, said that despite the way the search had proceeded they were confident that Mr. Paulison was up to the task, even if he had not yet had an opportunity to offer a vision for the agency.

    "He has done what you kind of expect an acting director to do, which is basically to mind the store," Mr. Andrews said. "But he brings a lot of the qualifications you need for this job, and in the six months he has been acting as director he certainly learned the immediate and considerable challenges FEMA is facing."

    Officials at Homeland Security would not discuss the likelihood that Mr. Paulison would be nominated for the permanent job and said that no one had officially been offered it, including the various other candidates who might have been contacted. But they did say they were pleased with the work Mr. Paulison had done.

    "Chief Paulison has consistently demonstrated strong leadership, coolness under pressure," said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman.

    This is not the first time FEMA has had to go through a humiliating disaster recovery process of its own. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, the staff at FEMA was demoralized by the widespread criticism of the agency's response, said James Lee Witt, who was named by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to take over FEMA.

    But the situation then was very different, Mr. Witt said in an interview.

    He assumed the top job at the start of a new administration, with a president who later decided to upgrade FEMA's role by making Mr. Witt a member of his cabinet. In 2003, FEMA was merged into the Department of Homeland Security, losing its cabinet status and independence, a move that several of the candidates said left the director with less power to make critical, on-the-spot decisions during a disaster.

    "FEMA can be turned around," said Mr. Tolbert, the former director of the agency's Response Division and of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. "But I don't think it can be turned around within Homeland Security."

    Mr. Baughman, a former senior FEMA official who worked on more than 100 disasters over three decades and who is now director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said the Bush administration was still too focused on combating terrorism, as opposed to investing in preparing for disasters of all kinds. And Congress still has not shown a willingness to invest sufficient funds into emergency planning, he said.

    "To me it just doesn't make any doggone sense," he said, explaining, in part, why he did not take the job.

    Mr. Brown said in an interview that he was not surprised to hear so many veteran emergency managers had declined to consider the job.

    "Everything I have been saying about FEMA marginalization is true," he said.

    Mr. Chertoff has made it clear that he does not plan on putting another person in the job who has little emergency management experience. Joe M. Allbaugh, Mr. Bush's first FEMA director, had been his national campaign manager in 2000, and Mr. Brown had been a commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association in Colorado.

    And even before a permanent new director is nominated, and confirmed by the Senate, the agency is moving quickly to try to fill some of the approximately 550 vacant positions among its full time staff of about 2,500 employees. As part of the goal of filling 95 percent of the jobs by the start of hurricane season on Monday about 60 new staff members will start at headquarters, in contracting, public assistance and other areas, a FEMA spokeswoman said.

    Mr. Baughman, among others, said that he wished Mr. Paulison well if he was selected for the permanent post. "He is a top-notch guy, a class act," Mr. Baughman said. "But a lot of it will be determined by the kind of team he can put together there. You can't do it by yourself."

    .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    12,866

    Re: FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell

    http://hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu...006/april2006/


    EXTENDED RANGE FORECAST OF ATLANTIC SEASONAL HURRICANE ACTIVITY AND U.S. LANDFALL STRIKE PROBABILITY FOR 2006

    We continue to foresee another very active Atlantic basin tropical cyclone
    season in 2006. Landfall probabilities for the 2006 hurricane season are
    well above their long-period averages.

    (as of 4 April 2006)

    By Philip J. Klotzbach[1] and William M. Gray
    with special assistance from William Thorson


    This forecast as well as past forecasts and verifications are available via
    the World Wide Web at http://hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts

    Emily Wilmsen and Brad Bohlander, Colorado State University Media
    Representatives, (970-491-6432) are available to answer various questions
    about this forecast


    Department of Atmospheric Science
    Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, CO 80523
    Email: [email protected]

    ATLANTIC BASIN SEASONAL HURRICANE FORECAST FOR 2006


    Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
    Climatology (in parentheses)
    Issue Date
    6 December 2005
    Issue Date
    4 April 2006

    Named Storms (NS) (9.6)
    17
    17

    Named Storm Days (NSD) (49.1)
    85
    85

    Hurricanes (H) (5.9)
    9
    9

    Hurricane Days (HD) (24.5)
    45
    45

    Intense Hurricanes (IH) (2.3)
    5
    5

    Intense Hurricane Days (IHD) (5.0)
    13
    13

    Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (100%)
    195
    195


    PROBABILITIES FOR AT LEAST ONE MAJOR (CATEGORY 3-4-5) HURRICANE LANDFALL ON EACH OF THE FOLLOWING COASTAL AREAS:

    1) Entire U.S. coastline - 81% (average for last century is 52%)

    2) U.S. East Coast Including Peninsula Florida - 64% (average for last
    century is 31%)

    3) Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville - 47%
    (average for last century is 30%)

    4) Above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean


    _____

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