Bruno Taking Fire in FEMA Commissioner Competition
Updated 7:10 p.m.
By Spencer S. Hsu
Jockeying to take over the Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting rougher these days.
Backers of Los Angeles emergency manager Ellis M. Stanley Sr. are fiercely lobbying Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's advisers not to name rival New York City emergency commissioner Joseph F. Bruno to the post, calling him unqualified. And a source close to the process says that Bruno was never really in the mix anyway.
"He was a disastrous fire commissioner. He's been a disastrous Office of Emergency Management commissioner. He just doesn't have the background to be" FEMA director, said Jerome Hauer, who handled emergency management in New York under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani before serving as a Bush Health and Human Services bioterrorism aide.
Bruno did not respond to the attacks yesterday, but a city official noted that Hauer has had "an unfair axe to grind" against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's team since not being given a job.
Meanwhile, there are other top contenders, sources cautioned. One of them may be Ellen M. Gordon, Iowa's former homeland security advisor and a past president of the National Emergency Management Agency. Gordon is said to be backed by former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, now Obama secretary of agriculture.
Mark C. Merritt, a former FEMA official and partner of Clinton FEMA director, James Lee Witt, dropped back in the running amid concerns over his contracting work, sources said.
Napolitano's team is moving carefully, knowing that questions about qualifications or political motivations in the FEMA choice can come back to bite them, according to people who have spoken with them.
Some DHS hands note that Napolitano has already stacked component agencies with hand-picked chiefs of staff, including aides from Arizona who are new to Washington.
Posted at 4:55 PM ET on Jan 28, 2009
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