# FEMA director Michael Brown.

• News

## Main Question or Discussion Point

OK, if you've been paying attention, you'll remember that Michael "Brownie" Brown has been the butt of some jokes recently. His last job was an exec. at the International Arabian Horse Association. He was fired for incompetence.

Turns out that was the tip of the iceburg.

So what was his qualifications to head the organization responsible for saving untold American lives in the event of an emergency?

Well, according to Brownie's resume released by the White House, he was the Assistant City Manager for the city of Edmonds, Ohio. He handled emergency situations, that sort of thing.

Only problem is- it's untrue.

As investigative journalists just found out, he wasn't Assistant City Manager for the city of Edmonds, OH. He was an assistant TO the City Manager. It was a college intern position: getting coffee, making copies, etc.

But wait, there's more!

His resume also claims he spent a few years working in a retirement home. The only problem is, the retirement home in question has no record of him working there. There's been people there since 1981, when Brownie says he worked there, and they've got no idea what he's on about.

And then there's the professorship. The White House says Brown was a professor at some university in Oklahoma. Somebody should have told that university, because they had no idea he was ever there.

So, you may ask, how exactly did Brown ever get that job?

Turns out... excuse me a moment...

It turns out he's the former college roommate of former FEMA head, Director Allsbaugh.

You remember Director Allsbaugh, right? He was one of Bush's campaign managers from the 2000 election.

If you want more information, or if you don't believe me (I don't know why anybody wouldn't believe me, this really comes as no surprise to me. Just look who's in charge) you can read all about it in a hot, hot, hot expose in the newest issue of Time Magazine.

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
cronxeh
Gold Member
It's not Brown's fault. What happened in new orleans is the result of the fallable social structure. Having a few people take the fall is not going to do any good for anyone, any time.

Skyhunter
Smurf said:
It's not Brown's fault. What happened in new orleans is the result of the fallable social structure. Having a few people take the fall is not going to do any good for anyone, any time.
I don't think that is the point here.

The fact that people are appointed to fill vital position within our government who have no qualifications is the point. Brown is an extreme example, because of his history of incompetence, however I think it might be more common than we think.

Art
Skyhunter said:
I don't think that is the point here.

The fact that people are appointed to fill vital position within our government who have no qualifications is the point. Brown is an extreme example, because of his history of incompetence, however I think it might be more common than we think.
Just look at who you have as president for an example of a guy in a vital position with zilch qualifications

BobG
Homework Helper
Skyhunter said:
I don't think that is the point here.

The fact that people are appointed to fill vital position within our government who have no qualifications is the point. Brown is an extreme example, because of his history of incompetence, however I think it might be more common than we think.
Especially when five of the top eight positions in FEMA are filled with people with little to no experience in disaster response (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050909/pl_nm/brown_dc [Broken]).

The Washington Post reported on Friday that five of eight top FEMA officials had come to their jobs with virtually no experience in handling disasters. The agency's top three leaders, including Brown, had ties to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign or the White House advance operation.

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kat
TRCSF said:
OK, if you've been paying attention, you'll remember that Michael "Brownie" Brown has been the butt of some jokes recently. His last job was an exec. at the International Arabian Horse Association.
and here I thought his prior job was as Deputy Director......

cronxeh
Gold Member
Skyhunter said:
I don't think that is the point here.

The fact that people are appointed to fill vital position within our government who have no qualifications is the point. Brown is an extreme example, because of his history of incompetence, however I think it might be more common than we think.
Its funny you should mention that, but yet you dont point out that our President himself has a good history of incompetence, and yet the American public, especially the South, chose to reelect him. I guess they got exactly what they bargained for

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Brown is a political (patronage) appointee in the Bush administration. He is not qualified for the job he holds.

All presidents have made 'political' appointments in their respective administrations. That is one reason policy keeps shifting.

With each new administration, work is stopped, projects cancelled, and people from various labs and government facilities go to Washington to explain to a new department secretary what it is they do - not that the secretary is likely to understand.

The stories I could tell. :grumpy:

Skyhunter said:
I don't think that is the point here.

The fact that people are appointed to fill vital position within our government who have no qualifications is the point. Brown is an extreme example, because of his history of incompetence, however I think it might be more common than we think.
The very point that this is not a one time occurence, or even necessarily rare, gives support that it is the social structure that needs amending because it is that which makes these blunders possible in the first place.

SOS2008
Gold Member
Astronuc said:
True. However, can we think of any appointment, promotion (Rice, Bolton, now Roberts), or medal awarded that has not been controversial in this administration? The cronyism seems to be worse with Bush, because for this president loyalty is always more important than qualifications.

Edit: Did anyone catch Ted Koppel's interview of Brown? I hear Ted ripped him one. And did anyone catch Cheney's interview "on the ground" (in a less-damaged Republican sector), and a resident telling him to *$%%#!! off? I think Bush will pay a heavy price over this. Last edited: SOS2008 said: True. However, can we think of any appointment, promotion (Rice, Bolton, now Roberts), or medal awarded that has not been controversial in this administration? The cronyism seems to be worse with Bush, because for this president loyalty is always more important than qualifications. Edit: Did anyone catch Ted Koppel's interview of Brown? I hear Ted ripped him one. And did anyone catch Cheney's interview "on the ground" (in a less-damaged Republican sector), and a resident telling him to *$%%#!! off? I think Bush will pay a heavy price over this.
Video here: http://mediachannel.org/blog/node/861 [Broken]

 seems bogged down at the moment.

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kat
SOS2008 said:
True. However, can we think of any appointment, promotion (Rice, Bolton, now Roberts), or medal awarded that has not been controversial in this administration?
I'm not sure how you can really call his appointment controversial when congress put him there by a vote of..what 89 to 0? not sure the exact number of fors..by I know there were no against.

kat said:
I'm not sure how you can really call his appointment controversial.
Well, it sure is controversial now.

kat said:
I'm not sure how you can really call his appointment controversial when congress put him there by a vote of..what 89 to 0? not sure the exact number of fors..by I know there were no against.
I think the current storm of criticism counts as a controversy. SOS did not say the controversy existed at conformation but that there has been a storm surrounding many of Bush's appointees; moreover, there is a literary term called hyperbole .

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
And what on earth was Congress thinking when they approved the nomination ?!

And just for the sake of completeness (since the OP lacked any links) :

Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Brown practiced law in Colorado and Oklahoma, where he served as a bar examiner on ethics and professional responsibility for the Oklahoma Supreme Court and as a hearing examiner for the Colorado Supreme Court. He had been appointed as a special prosecutor in police disciplinary matters. While attending law school he was appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee of the Oklahoma Legislature as the Finance Committee Staff Director, where he oversaw state fiscal issues. His background in state and local government also includes serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight and as a city councilman.

Mr. Brown was also an adjunct professor of law for the Oklahoma City University.

A native of Oklahoma, Mr. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in Public Administration/Political Science from Central State University, Oklahoma. He received his J.D. from Oklahoma City University’s School of Law.

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Gokul43201 said:
And what on earth was Congress thinking when they approved the nomination ?!
They were probably thinking that his resume was true.

Smurf said:
It's not Brown's fault.
It's not Brown's fault? Smurf, providing false information to win confirmation is a felony.

So is negligent homicide.

I don't know if nepotism is a felony, or a misdemeanor, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal.

Furthermore, FEMA did screw up. That's a given. It's the responsibility of the head of FEMA to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen.

Letting the guy stay in place one more day is a threat to this nation's security.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Gokul43201 said:
And what on earth was Congress thinking when they approved the nomination ?!
Probably thought he couldn't do any harm.

From Brown's bio at FEMA site -
Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Brown practiced law in Colorado and Oklahoma, where he served as a bar examiner on ethics and professional responsibility

It's not Brown's fault?
Right. It turns out that al-Qaida secretly infiltrated Florida, hi-jacked Katrina and drove it right into New Orleans.

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alexandra
TRCSF said:
It's not Brown's fault? Smurf, providing false information to win confirmation is a felony.

So is negligent homicide.

I don't know if nepotism is a felony, or a misdemeanor, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal.

Furthermore, FEMA did screw up. That's a given. It's the responsibility of the head of FEMA to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen.

Letting the guy stay in place one more day is a threat to this nation's security.
I don't think Smurf is excusing Brown. Of course he must take his share of the blame. What I think Smurf is getting at is that 'the buck doesn't stop' at Brown. The way in which unqualified people like Brown can be appointed to such positions is an indication of the failure of the political system itself. I may be wrong in my interpretation of what Smurf means (correct me if that is the case, Smurf).

alex

BobG
Homework Helper
TRCSF said:
They were probably thinking that his resume was true.
I couldn't find his confirmation hearing for FEMA head. But the two senators who introduced him in his hearings for for deputy gave an accurate description of his background.

It's actually a little embarrassing to read Campbell's intro - I always liked him as a senator.

More pertinent is Senator Bennett's concerns (which have little to do with Brown, himself).

The concern I have with respect to the creation of this new
department [Homeland Security] is what happens to your other missions. FEMA has
missions other than security missions. If the primary focus of
the new department is homeland security and that becomes the
primary focus of FEMA, what happens to your other responses in
situations that have nothing to do with homeland security and
homeland defense? Have you given any thought to that as you
have looked to your new home? .....

...... The reason for my concern, and the
Chairman has heard me on this subject before, I was present at
the creation of the Department of Transportation, where we did
pretty much the same thing, brought a number of agencies in
from a number of different places, and frankly, the Department
did not function for years as it should have functioned because
the Coast Guard and the FAA and the Urban Mass Transit
cultures and different attitudes and they were not used to
thinking in terms of a single Department focused on
transportation and it took years for the cultures to change.
I am concerned about that happening here.
Taking a bigger picture, FEMA didn't do that bad a job responding in Florida last year, did he? Or were things better when only hit Florida instead of several states, simultaneously? (neighboring states are in a better position to help out). Or is Jeb Bush just better at handling hurricanes on his own than Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama? Or is the federal government just more responsive when a swing state is hit by disaster in an election year?

alexandra said:
I don't think Smurf is excusing Brown. Of course he must take his share of the blame. What I think Smurf is getting at is that 'the buck doesn't stop' at Brown. The way in which unqualified people like Brown can be appointed to such positions is an indication of the failure of the political system itself. I may be wrong in my interpretation of what Smurf means (correct me if that is the case, Smurf).

alex
Well, if that's the case than good. There's a lot more unqualified people that are to blame and should be removed.

alexandra said:
I don't think Smurf is excusing Brown. Of course he must take his share of the blame. What I think Smurf is getting at is that 'the buck doesn't stop' at Brown. The way in which unqualified people like Brown can be appointed to such positions is an indication of the failure of the political system itself. I may be wrong in my interpretation of what Smurf means (correct me if that is the case, Smurf).
That is exactly right Alexandra. Brown's failure is not a cause but rather an effect of the much bigger problem in American society as a whole.

Bush being elected, the lack of decent candidates from any party, the situation in iraq, the attacks of september 11th, the so-called culture war, the response to katrina, the fundamentalist movement, the poor international opinion, the support of dictators abroad, the support of inethical business practice abroad. These are not problems that ail a just and healthy society.

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Astronuc
Staff Emeritus