Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Former FEMA Chief finds Warm Home with Halliburton!

Who cares if 400,000 people end up losing their jobs from the Katrina debacle.

The former FEMA chief, Joe Allbaugh, has found a home with Halliburton.

Photo of Joe Allbaugh

As reported in March, 2005:
KBR hired Joe Allbaugh as a consultant to provide strategy support for our Government and Infrastructure business," the statement read. "Mr. Allbaugh has not been tasked with any lobbying responsibilities."

But Allbaugh's lobbying disclosure form says the company will "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues."

A spokesperson for the Allbaugh Co. said Allbaugh was traveling on vacation. The spokesperson said the firm was tapped to advise KBR solely on homeland security issues.

Allbaugh's close ties to the White House give him contacts throughout the administration, Congress and the private sector. As director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the first two years of the Bush administration, Allbaugh was charged with overseeing the federal government's disaster preparedness and relief programs.

Prior to joining FEMA, Allbaugh was one of Bush's closest campaign aides. He managed Bush's first run for the Texas governor's mansion in 1994 and later served as Bush's chief of staff in Austin. During the 2000 election, Allbaugh, a former deputy secretary of transportation in Oklahoma and longtime GOP campaign operative, was the national campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Allbaugh, along with Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, was part of the triumvirate of Bush's closest advisers.
But good news KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, has started work on a $500 million contract, awarded last July, for removal of debris after natural disasters.

Some people say Mr. Allbaugh wasn't qualified for his FEMA position.

Just read the biography for Mr. Allbaugh from the Allbaugh Co. website:
As the former Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr. Allbaugh managed 2,500 employees and an annual budget of $3 billion. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, Mr. Allbaugh coordinated the federal government's $8.8 billion response and recovery effort. He was also a founding member of the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Prior to his presidential appointment, Mr. Allbaugh was the National Campaign Manager for Bush-Cheney 2000, Inc. where he successfully organized and managed a $192 million presidential campaign. Before that, Mr. Allbaugh served as Chief of Staff to then-Governor Bush in Texas.
Why what's wrong with that? I mean isn't a National Campaign Manager for the campaign good to run America's emergencies? Isn't an emergency just a big photo-op for our President?

As Senator Mary Landrieu noted:
"But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the president, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- black and white, rich and poor, young and old -- deserve far better from their national government."
But the unqualified Allbaugh was replaced by the unqualified Michael D. Brown as noted:
''He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm,'' said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief who oversaw emergency response during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. ``The world that this man operated in and the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience.''

Brown ran for Congress in 1988 and won 27 percent of the vote against Democratic incumbent Glenn English, and spent the 1990s as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. His job was to ensure that horse-show judges followed the rules and to investigate allegations against those suspected of cheating.

''I wouldn't have regarded his position in the horse industry as a platform to where he is now,'' said Tom Connelly, a former association president.

Brown's ticket to FEMA was Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's 2000 campaign manager and an old friend of Brown's in Oklahoma.

Brown told several association officials that if Bush were elected, he'd be in line for a good job. When Allbaugh, who managed Bush's campaign, took over FEMA in 2001, he took Brown with him as general counsel.
Well if "Brownie" loses his job, well we can rest assured that there are other poorly-qualified leaders in the wing, who are being paid back for being outstanding political operatives for the Bush-Cheney campaign. The hell with emergency services delivery experience.

As noted, Patrick James Rhode is Chief of Staff for FEMA:
Critics have also cited a lack of experience with FEMA chief of staff Patrick James Rhode, a former advance official for the Bush campaign in 2000, and deputy chief of staff Scott Morris, who worked as a media strategist for the campaign.
But what can we expect from a President who can't think of any mistakes he has made. And now with the Katrina Fiasco with Americans dying of thirst and neglect right within our own borders, he had this to say according to Nancy Pelosi:
Pelosi recounted a conversation with Bush, during which she called for the resignation of Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who has been under fire since the outset.

"He said, 'Why would I do that?' " Pelosi said. "I said, 'Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said, 'What didn't go right?' "
America deserves better! America deserves a President who places Americans ahead of photo-ops. Who understands that no American need fear that help will not be on the way in our own country, in the face of natural disasters.

We don't need our FEMA staff being political operatives who can stage good photo-ops. We need experienced emergency management leaders! We don't need politicians who slip from the White House to the offices of Halliburton all the while delivering multi-million dollar contracts to the same company.

It is time for new leadership in Washington! America deserves better.



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