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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Jobless Republican Will Sort of Work For Big Bucks

“You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie.”

We all heard the president complimenting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown. Of course the rest of the country saw it differently.

Especially when he said in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC that his office wasn’t actually aware of the devastation in New Orleans until three days later. Apparently FEMA offices have no radios or televisions.

Which brings us to the question of how he got this job in the first place.

In the real world, employers look at an applicant’s relevant job experience. You know, things like what position you held, your specific job responsibilities, the number of people answering to you, that kind of thing. In hiring the director of a federal agency like FEMA, experience dealing with disasters and managing lots of employees would be at the top of the list of “must haves,” right?

Not so with the Bush Administration. Mr. Brown worked as the assistant to Bill Dashner, the city manager of Edmond OK (population 70,000), although he listed the position on his resume as “assistant city manager,” giving the impression that he was in charge of the actual managing of Edmond, Oklahoma instead of the usual menial chores done by the average administrative assistant.

To be fair, Dashner gave him a glowing reccommendation.

"Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt," Dashner said in a recent Time Magazine interview.

Loyalty, punctuality and starched white shirts.

Obviously, very important qualities for disaster management.

From there, Mr. Brown went on to serve as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association. He was asked to resign after several lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

Hey Federal Government! Ever thought about checking references?

How did he get the FEMA job? It helped that the former director of FEMA Joseph Albaugh was his college room-mate. Also that he’d worked very hard on Bush’s campaign. He needed a job and his friends in the Bush administration were more than happy to help him out by hiring him on as deputy director at FEMA.

There’s nothing new about this practice. Patronage jobs have been around since the first bureaucracies set up shop back in the Bronze Age. But we used to have places to put these guys where they wouldn’t cause any trouble. Like an ambassador to some small friendly country like Luxembourg. Or Postmaster General.

In the most humiliating administration announcement ever broadcast, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that Michael Brown was “needed in Washington” and that Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen would take over coordinating relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.

At the time Mr. Brown was still in charge of FEMA, but he has since resigned. He may have not have been able to see the suffering in New Orleans, but he sure as hell could see the writing on the wall.

Anybody out there need a loyal, punctual guy in a starched white shirt?

I understand WalMart is hiring.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:29 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 12:37 AM EDT
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