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April 02, 2006
Thanks, but no way in hell

FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell

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.

It's a shame the Bush Administration has such a lousy reputation that they can't convince anyone with experience for the job that they're serious about doing it right this time. It's the people of this country who are likely to suffer most.

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.

I actually feel kind of sorry for the guy.

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.

Numbers like that tell you just how bad it got inside the Agency.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:03 AM