| Michael Brown |
(Lawyer, radio personality)
|Born||Michael DeWayne Brown|
"Legendary as a disaster in his own right", Brown's appointment as head of FEMA shows the dangers of appointments made through cronyism.
Michael Brown was termed "the least qualified person imaginable" to run FEMA by Russ Baker, who opined in 2006 that "Michael Brown will forever remain the poster child for federal incompetence." He was listed as #5 on a list of top 43 Appointees Who Helped Make Bush The Worst President Ever.
His appointment as FEMA director came as a shock to outside observers, but Brown has already claimed that if George W. Bush became US President, then he would be getting a big job in the federal government.
When submitting documents in advance of his appointment as FEMA director, Brown omitted legal cases that should have disbarred him and mendaciously presented his experience to overstate its value. This falsification notwithstanding, he was still outstandingly underqualified.
In 2004, FEMA disbursed $30 million in disaster relief funds for Hurricane Frances to residents of Miami, Florida, where damage from Hurricane Frances was minimal. Brown admitted to $12 million in overpayments, but denied any serious mistakes, blaming a computer glitch. After investigating, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote that Brown was responsible and called for him to be fired.
In January 2005, Robert Wexler publicly urged George W. Bush to fire Brown, citing the Sun-Sentinel 's report. Wexler repeated his call in April to Michael Chertoff, citing new reports that FEMA sent inspectors with criminal records of robbery and embezzlement to do damage assessments.
- Full article: Hurricane Katrina
- Full article: Hurricane Katrina
On the day Katrina struck, Brown Emailed "Can I quit now? Can I go home?" He later quipped to a friend on September 2 that he could not meet her because he was "trapped [as FEMA head] ... please rescue me."
On August 29, 2005, five hours after the hurricane hit land, Brown made his first request for Homeland Security rescue workers to be deployed to the disaster area only after two days of training. He also told fire and rescue departments outside affected areas to not provide trucks or emergency workers without a direct appeal from state or local governments in order to avoid coordination problems and the accusation of overstepping federal authority.
On September 1, 2005, Brown told Soledad O'Brien of CNN that he was unaware that [[New Orleans]]' officials had housed thousands of evacuees, who quickly ran out of food and water, in the Convention Center — even though major news outlets had been reporting on the evacuees' plight for at least a day. He also criticized those that were stuck in New Orleans as those "who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city" (disobeying a mandatory evacuation order).
On September 2, 2005, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley stated that he pledged firefighters, police officers, health department workers, and other resources on behalf of the city, but was only asked to send one tank truck.
Gail Collins, at the time editor of The New York Times ' editorial page, called Michael Brown "legendary as a disaster in his own right", and on Thanksgiving week in 2005, Brown was No. 1 on CNN's "Political Turkey of the Year" list for his handling of Katrina.
- Wexler Calls For FEMA Director's Resignation at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2005), January 24, 2005
- Wexler Renews Call for FEMA Director's Removal at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2005), April 27, 2005
- 'Can I quit now?' FEMA chief wrote as Katrina raged. CNN, November 3, 2005
- Memo from Michael Brown to Michael Chertoff, August 29, 2005
- Daley 'shocked' at federal snub of offers to help, Chicago Tribune, September 2, 2005
- Edwards wants law against "Brownies", Reuters August 28, 2007