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AFGE Union on Michael Brown resignation

This press release was issued Sep. 12:
"It's unfortunate that it's come to this, but this resignation was appropriate," said AFGE National President John Gage. "However, Mr. Brown's resignation does nothing to restore the slashed funding for disaster mitigation that FEMA has suffered. It does not undo the damage done by the connected contractors who were used to push aside career FEMA employees, only to provide unusable studies and materials.
"Only Congress can make this right," Gage concluded, "by restoring to FEMA full funding for emergency preparedness, as well as appropriating the dollars necessary for a comprehensive response to the nation's citizens in the throes of a crisis."
For years, AFGE members at FEMA have been ringing alarm bells, predicting the agency's inability to respond adequately to a natural disaster in the face of budget cuts and money thrown away on corporate contractors. In June 2004, the AFGE president of the local union at FEMA headquarters sent a letter to some 20 senators and members of Congress, begging for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the cronyism and program- slashing that were threatening the agency's emergency-response capability.
In the letter, then AFGE Local President Pleasant Mann also expressed concern at the lack of emergency-response experience by then FEMA Director Joseph Allbaugh, who went on to appoint his college roommate, Michael Brown, to the agency's upper ranks. (Brown succeeded Allbaugh when the latter left the agency to become a lobbyist for Halliburton.)
This year, Local Union President Mann was succeeded by Leo Bosner, who describes Michael Brown as "a nice man" who lacks the appropriate experience for running FEMA...

"A disturbing view from inside FEMA": An odd CNN, FEMA, Blanco loop

This CNN report has a lot of filler, but it does link to a segment on a "whistleblower". But, it also ends up being CNN reporting on someone who apparently used CNN as a source for remarks by Blanco, which are then re-reported by CNN:

"We told these fellows that there was a killer hurricane heading right toward New Orleans," Leo Bosner, a 26-year FEMA employee and union leader told CNN. "We had done our job, but they didn't do theirs."
Bosner's storm warning came early Saturday, three days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore in eastern Louisiana.
"New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level," he warned in his daily alert to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, then-FEMA chief Michael Brown and other Bush administration officials.
"If the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction, there are dire predictions of what may happen in the city," it said.

Those quotes appear to have originated with Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and not Bosner. I don't know if this National Situation Update: Saturday, August 27, 2005 is what that's refering to, but it attributes those last two quotes to Blanco, and it cites "Various media sources" as its sources.
Those quotes appear to have first appeared in CNN's Aug. 26 article "Forecasters: Katrina to aim for Mississippi, Louisiana":

In anticipation of a possible landfall, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared states of emergency Friday.
Blanco said "very well-coordinated evacuations" were planned that will be enacted "if there's a direct threat."
New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level.
"It's always a huge concern, because there's a very large lake, Lake Pontchartrain, that sits next to New Orleans, and if the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction there are dire predictions of what may happen in that city," Blanco said.

What an odd loop! There's a possibility she was quoting Bosner, or CNN got its attributions wrong. Let's ask them and find out.
And, from Sep 11's "FEMA Weathers Storm From Critics":

So what happened as Katrina approached? On the Saturday morning two days before the hurricane struck, FEMA's watch commanders issued a warning.
"We put a situation report out at 5:30 a.m. saying a catastrophic hurricane is headed straight, dead-center for New Orleans and Brown and Chertoff and these people did nothing," Leo Bosner says.

"Disarray Marked the Path From Hurricane to Anarchy"

Could someone kindly look through this long NYT article and dig out the juicy bits? I stopped when I got to the second paragraph:

Ms. Blanco burst into the state's emergency center in Baton Rouge. "Does anybody in this building know anything about buses?" she recalled crying out.

UPDATE: This story is now called "Breakdowns Marked Path From Hurricane to Anarchy".
Here's some text from Page 2:

Colonel Ebbert decided to make the Superdome the city's lone shelter, assuming the city would only have to shelter people in the arena for 48 hours, until the storm passed or the federal government came and rescued people.
As early as Friday, Aug. 26, as Hurricane Katrina moved across the Gulf of Mexico, officials in the watch center at FEMA headquarters in Washington discussed the need for buses.
Someone said, "We should be getting buses and getting people out of there," recalled Leo V. Bosner, an emergency management specialist with 26 years at FEMA and president of an employees' union. Others nodded in agreement, he said.
"We could all see it coming, like a guided missile," Mr. Bosner said of the storm. "We, as staff members at the agency, felt helpless. We knew that major steps needed to be taken fast, but, for whatever reasons, they were not taken."

WaPo: FEMA leaders "lacking disaster experience"

From this WaPo article:

Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska anda U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.

Emphasis added; as Brown points out, he has had some on-the-job experience. And, as Joe Lieberman pointed out, he did have disaster experience as an assistant city manager.

...Meanwhile, veterans such as U.S. hurricane specialist Eric Tolbert and World Trade Center disaster managers Laurence W. Zensinger and Bruce P. Baughman -- who led FEMA's offices of response, recovery and preparedness, respectively -- have left since 2003, taking jobs as consultants or state emergency managers...
...several top FEMA officials are well-regarded by state and private counterparts in disaster preparedness and response... They include Edward G. Buikema, acting director of response since February, and Kenneth O. Burris, acting chief of operations, a career firefighter and former Marietta, Ga., fire chief...
...Rhode, Brown's chief of staff, is a former television reporter who came to Washington as advance deputy director for Bush's Austin-based 2000 campaign and then the White House. He joined FEMA in April 2003 after stints at the Commerce Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Altshuler is a former presidential advance man. His predecessor, Scott Morris, was a media strategist for Bush with the Austin firm Maverick Media.
David I. Maurstad, who stepped down as Nebraska lieutenant governor in 2001 to join FEMA, has served asacting director for risk reduction and federal insurance administrator since June 2004. Daniel A. Craig, a onetime political fundraiser and campaign adviser, came to FEMA in 2001 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he directed the eastern regional office, after working as a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association...
...Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Brown has managed more than 160 natural disasters as FEMA general counsel and deputy director since 2001, "hands-on experience [that] cannot be understated. Other leadership at FEMA brings particular skill sets -- policy management leadership, for example..."
...The agency's troubles are no secret. The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that promotes careers in federal government, ranked FEMA last of 28 agencies studied in 2003.
In its list of best places to work in the government, a 2004 survey by the American Federation of Government Employees found that of 84 career FEMA professionals who responded, only 10 people ranked agency leaders excellent or good.
An additional 28 said the leadership was fair and 33 called it poor.
More than 50 said they would move to another agency if they could remain at the same pay grade, and 67 ranked the agency as poorer since its merger into the Department of Homeland Security.

The AFGE is a union, so there's always the possibility that they or their members had their own agenda.

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