FEMA Appointments Coming Soon
By Spencer S. Hsu
Quickly following up her confirmation by the Senate on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is closing in on several top appointments at the sprawling department. One of her first priorities outside of top DHS staff is likely to be the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Besides serving as the president's top adviser during domestic disasters, the next FEMA chief will be under the gun as Congress, Napolitano and the White House debate whether to make FEMA a stand-alone agency or to reorganize it. FEMA also is still rebuilding from its disastrous 2005 response to Hurricane Katrina under former director Michael D. Brown and subsequent reorganizations.
People in the running to lead the nation's disaster response arm are said to include Ellis M. Stanley Sr., general manager of the Los Angeles emergency preparedness department, and Joseph F. Bruno, commissioner of New York City's office of emergency management, according to sources who have spoken with Obama transition officials.
Others said to be in the mix at one point included Bruce Baughman, former director of the Alabama emergency management agency; W. Craig Fugate, director of the Florida division of emergency management; and Mark C. Merritt, a former FEMA official and founding partner of former Clinton FEMA director James Lee Witt's consulting firm. Retired Army lieutenant general Russel Honore, best known for heading the military's response to Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, also has had backers.
Among other changes, Congress mandated that the FEMA director have five years of management experience and emergency management experience, a reaction to complaints that FEMA had become a patronage farm stockpiled with political hacks. R. David Paulison, who took over after Brown to repair FEMA when others turned down the job, stepped down today.
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