Senators Collins and Lieberman got their lame reform of FEMA through the Senate which included changing the agency’s name. But I propose this name change…
Agency employees’ refusal to appear before a Hancock County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday was the result of a “misunderstanding,” said Aaron Walker, FEMA’s national spokesman. He said local agency representatives would continue to attend public meetings in Mississippi.
However, Walker said, the FEMA employees were not obliged to appear at the Hancock meeting if they perceived it to be a media ambush.
A FEMA official e-mailed U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, saying agency employees at the Board of Supervisors meeting “believed it to be a FEMA-bashing event.”
Two newspaper reporters – one from the Sun Herald and one from a bi-weekly publication – were at Wednesday’s board meeting. No television crews were present.
Hancock County President Rocky Pullman said nothing before Wednesday’s meeting indicated it would be “hostile” to FEMA.
“Not that I know of,” Pullman said. “It just really irked me that they could just sit there and say they could not be there if the media were there.”
Earlier, Pullman had said the FEMA representatives offered to meet with Hancock County officials in a closed-door session.
“I told (FEMA) to get the hell out of here,” Pullman told the Sun Herald on Wednesday.
Eugene Brezany, a state spokesman for FEMA, said Wednesday the agency tries to avoid situations in which employees are going to be quoted by newspapers.
“If a reporter is there, then that puts our people in a position where they are going to be on the record, and they’re not allowed to do that,” he said.
Brezany said Wednesday FEMA policy dictated that only authorized employees could speak to the media. If a reporter is at a public meeting, unauthorized FEMA officials could inadvertently wind up in the next day’s paper, he said.
Heaven forbid anything is on the record or in the papers so we the people could actually know what our government is doing. (h/t to reader Rob)
And from the Times Picayune we learn not even Congress can get the skinny from FEMA…
“The responses we receive from FEMA generally tend to be woefully inadequate,” said Adam Sharp, a spokesman for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. “We get very little, and what we do get is not fully addressed, and that is a frustration.”
According to other Washington officials, FEMA’s inability to provide answers is consistent, regardless of whether the questions come verbally or in writing. For example, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., asked FEMA a series of questions in writing on Jan. 27 about the agency’s inclusion of “service disabled veterans” in its contracting. On March 23 he asked for a “prompt response” to questions about FEMA’s rebidding of $3.2 billion in travel trailer contracts. Kerry’s staff said he hasn’t heard a word from FEMA on either request.
The inability to get answers crosses party lines.
On debris removal, for example, FEMA subcontracted the job to the Army Corps of Engineers, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., got stiffed when he tried to break down the spending that corps officials pegged at at least $2 billion. Coburn asked for specifics at an April 10 congressional hearing he chaired at the Louisiana Supreme Court building in the French Quarter.
When FEMA and corps officials said they couldn’t give him an answer, Coburn could barely contain his anger and accused them of being more concerned with helping their business partners than with keeping the public informed. Read the Rest
Christ on a Triscuit does FEMA think they’re Skull and Bones?