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Chertoff defends Brownie still doing heckuva job

As previously discussed, former FEMA head Michael Brown is still on their payroll. Now, DHS head Michael Chertoff says:

"It's important to allow the new people who have the responsibility ... to have access to the information we need to do better... We don't want to sacrifice the real ability to get a full picture of Mike's experiences; we don't want to sacrifice that ability simply in order to make an image point."


Russ Knocke, the Homeland Security spokesman, said Brown has no decision-making or management responsibilities.

As for himself:

...Brown said Wednesday he was asked to stay on the job another 30 days to help the agency complete its review of the response to Hurricane Katrina, a "completely legitimate thing to do."
Brown, who resigned under fire Sept. 12 after being heavily criticized for the slow reaction to the hurricane, told The Associated Press that he's also reviewing for the agency a large number of Freedom of Information requests dealing with the response.
Asked in a telephone interview if he expects to complete that work by the end of his second 30-day extension, Brown replied, "Absolutely. I'm motivated to wrap it up. I'm ready to move on."

Michael Brown wanted to resign... before Katrina

From this:

Michael D. Brown was days away from announcing plans to resign as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, according to e-mails released by separate House and Senate investigations into the government's flawed response to the disaster.
Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Senate investigation, questioned whether Brown's status played a role in the response.
"The fact that it appears that Michael Brown was planning to resign may explain in part his curious detachment during the Katrina catastrophe," Collins said...

WSJ: Most federal aid not yet spent

From Much of Katrina Aid Remains Unspent

Within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina's slamming of the Gulf Coast, President Bush and Congress rushed with rare speed to provide an unprecedented $62.3 billion in disaster aid -- twice the annual budget of the entire Homeland Security Department. White House budget director Joshua Bolten predicted the money would last only "a few weeks."
Six weeks later, the government has spent or signed contracts totaling $16.2 billion, about a quarter of the money. To hurricane victims still awaiting trailers, small businesses needing loans to rebuild or city officials clamoring for debris removal, that amount may seem stunningly low. "When you look at the $62 billion and how much is actually making it to the state, it's such a small percentage that it's really disappointing," says Denise Bottcher, a spokeswoman for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. She says the governor has asked the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for details on where the money is being spent in Louisiana, but the agencies haven't provided any.

There's a chart at the link.

Guns now allowed at FEMA Cities

From Gun Possession Now OK at FEMA Housing:

Following complaints from gun-rights groups, FEMA said Monday it is lifting a ban on firearms at temporary housing parks built in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Under the new federal policy, residents can possess and store firearms. Use of weapons is still prohibited in the parks, said Butch Kinerny, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Gun rights groups had sought the change, saying the original policy violated Second Amendment protections for gun ownership. Kinerny said FEMA made the change after consulting with lawyers...

Here's a flashback to 10/14's Sheriff's Office request prompts ban on guns at FEMA housing in Baker 10/14/05:

...But a top sheriff's official said that while [keeping guns out was] a "close decision," public safety became the most-important concern rather than constitutional rights.
"I'm a member of the NRA and a firm supporter of the NRA in most instances," said Col. Greg Phares, chief criminal deputy for the Sheriff's Office.
"But in this instance, I had to balance the responsibility of the Sheriff's Office with constitutional rights," Phares added. "I think it's the right decision. It wasn't a comfortable decision, but it is right."
He said the proximity of the 572 "thin-walled" trailers -- situated only 8 feet apart -- created a dangerous situation.

More on the FEMA, DOT buses News - Disaster response 10/23/05

...Buses are not among [FEMA's] pre-staged supplies [MREs, cots, etc.].
Within hours of Katrina hitting on Monday [Aug 29], FEMA promised to deliver buses, according to Blanco.
On Tuesday [Aug 30], Blanco aide Leonard Kleinpeter recalled, the governor asked him to start trying to arrange for use of school buses.
FEMA relies on the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has a contract with a provider to locate for-hire buses and other types of transportation and get them to staging areas.
Federal transportation records show FEMA gave the agency the go-ahead at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31. Five hours later, buses were being dispatched from points around the country to LaPlace, 25 miles west of New Orleans, and by midnight some 200 buses had arrived.
By the end of Thursday, there were 657 buses on hand. By Friday there were 935 buses and by Saturday 1,094 buses.
In congressional testimony earlier this month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta blamed FEMA for holding up his department's efforts to move people out of New Orleans. He said buses that arrived in the first wave Wednesday sat there because FEMA didn't give orders to move.
"What we heard from drivers who arrived at the rallying point in the first hours of the first day was that dispatch operations of the buses were being handled on a piecemeal basis," said DOT spokesman Brian Turmail.
Questions to FEMA in Washington, D.C., about the bus situation went unanswered...

Among others, see "FEMA's buses: subcontractor farmed it out; massive confusion; Landstar to blame?"

Ice on the move again: from Maine to Florida for Wilma

From Ice trucks head south from Maine:

The tons of ice brought to Portland last month that wasn't needed for victims of Hurricane Katrina is on the move again.
Trucks are taking it south in anticipation of Hurricane Wilma.
More than a dozen rigs lined up along Read Street on Friday evening, waiting to get ice and other supplies from the AmeriCold Logistics facility.


The 10 biggest FEMA contracts, and the contractors' connections

From Katrina's big contracts go to political loop

When Hurricane Katrina struck, Ashbritt Inc. was well-positioned to take advantage of the torrent of government dollars that followed.
The Pompano Beach, Fla., firm had spent years cultivating its relationship with the federal government, contributing tens of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party and, more recently, hiring a powerful firm to lobby the Army Corps of Engineers on "disaster mitigation."
After Katrina hit, Ashbritt was given the largest award to date-- a deal worth up to $1.1 billion from the Corps for debris removal.
It is a story of government ties that is repeated time and again for the winners of the 10 largest Katrina contracts, according to an Associated Press review. At least four of those contracts are now being reviewed for possible waste and abuse...

A chart is provided with the top 10 contracts and their companies' connections. These are the companies:


The same article is here.
See also "Gulf Coast businesses left out of Katrina-relief spending".

Marty Bahamonde's testimony

His 10/20 testimony from the Senate is in this PDF file. There are excerpts here.

Brownie still doing a heckuva job

Former FEMA head Michael Brown is still on their payroll.
From this:

Brown is still on FEMA's payroll as a consultant, [FEMA spokeswoman Nicol] Andrews confirmed. He works from home, where he is "pulling all the documentation together" for the investigations into Katrina response, she said, and his original 30-day contract was recently extended for another 30 days.

Via this.
This site has filed an FOIA request:

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act for expedited processing, which call for the quick release of documents related to exceptional public and media interest in a federal employee, in this case Brown, I am asking that copies of all of his contracts with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, from the start of his employment with the agencies through the end of 2005, be immediately released to me.
I want every full-time and consulting contracting between Brown and DHS made public.

Marty Bahamonde, Michael Brown, FEMA emails

The emails sent by various FEMA officials were made public, and a brief overview and links to the downloads are available here. A few excerpts are here.
The Marty Bahamonde emails are in this PDF file and ones sent to and from Michael Brown are in this PDF file.
I've cached those in case the links stop working at some time in the future.
If someone could look through those and find something interesting that hasn't already been discussed, please leave a comment.
Discussion here ("how Michael Brown ate dinner while New Orleans flooded and people died"), here, and elsewhere.
Previously: [Bahamonde] blames Brown and "FEMA internal memos not as damning as you might think"
11/03/05 UPDATE: More Michael Brown emails.


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