Friday, September 09, 2005

Disaster chief's bio overstated record

I feel safer already...

From Time Magazine via Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. disaster official Michael Brown, under fire over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, cited prior emergency-management experience in an official biography but his duties were 'more like an intern,' Time magazine reported.

Brown's biography on the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site says he had once served as an 'assistant city manager with emergency services oversight,' and a White House news release in 2001 said Brown had worked for the city of Edmond, Oklahoma in the 1970s 'overseeing the emergency-services division.'

However, a city spokeswoman told the magazine Brown had actually worked as 'an assistant to the city manager.'

'The assistant is more like an intern,' Claudia Deakins told the magazine. 'Department heads did not report to him.' Time posted the article on its Web site late on Thursday.

Brown, a lawyer, was appointed as FEMA's general counsel in 2001 and became head of the agency in 2003. The work in Edmond is the only previous disaster-related experience cited in the biographies. Brown served as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association before taking the FEMA job.

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.

Former Edmond city manager Bill Dashner recalled for Time that Brown had worked for him as an administrative assistant while attending Central State University.

"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 told Time.