President Obama continued today to repair the damage of the Bush administration by appointing Craig Fugate to head FEMA. Fugate has been the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and has worked as firefighter and paramedic. Obama has actually appointed an experienced person to head FEMA.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “FEMA must have experienced leadership to succeed in its challenging mission. Craig Fugate is no stranger to emergency management or to FEMA. He is one of the most respected emergency managers in the nation, and the work he’s accomplished in Florida serves as a model for other states to follow. He will be a tremendous asset to FEMA and its employees, and I look forward to working with him.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) praised the nomination, “AFGE gets more complaints than ever from the employees, and we now have a half-dozen major grievances pending arbitration. FEMA is desperately in need of strong, experienced leadership to get us back on track, and we believe that Craig Fugate is the one to do this. How soon can he get here? Tell him to give me a call if he needs a ride from the airport. I’ll pick him up myself.”
By all accounts, FEMA is still a colossal mess. One of the biggest mistakes that the Bush administration made was demoting FEMA from cabinet status, and putting it under Homeland Security. I would love to see Obama restore FEMA’s previous position, but before he can do that, he will have to clean up the Bush administration’s mess.
In a piece last year in Government Technology, Fugate was called, “Craig Fugate is one of the brightest and most experienced emergency management professionals in the business today,” said Trina Sheets, executive director of the National Emergency Management Association. “He is a forward-thinking risk-taker who pushes the envelope with each disaster to deliver aid faster and better to the citizens of Florida.”
Hmm, describing Fugate as a forward thinking risk taker sounds a lot like Obama himself. Fugate has been in charge of disaster response through Florida’s worst two hurricane seasons. He is an experienced person, who should be able to rehabilitate FEMA to the point where it is no longer a dirty word in the minds of many post-Katrina Americans. Fugate’s is another nomination that represents a change away from the ineptitude of the Bush years.