Brown Should Have Been Fired in 2003

Michael Brown’s FEMA biography:

Under Secretary Brown has led Homeland Security’s response to more than 164 presidentially declared disasters and emergencies, including the 2003 Columbia Shuttle disaster and the California wildfires in 2003.

A refresher: the 2003 wildfires lasted seven weeks and burned three-quarters of a million acres. The billowing smoke was easily visible from space. By the time they were extinguished, 3,600 homes had been destroyed, 22 people were killed, and $2.5 billion in damages were amassed.

How did Brown perform? The reviews of his work may sound familiar:

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and some other California members of Congress have criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not declaring a disaster area in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties last spring because of the bark beetle infestation.

The bugs killed drought-stricken trees over 415,000 acres of forest, making them particularly prone to fire. On April 16, [then-Gov. Gray] Davis wrote to President Bush urging a disaster declaration. Eight days later, Boxer, Feinstein and 10 House members from Southern California “” seven of them Republicans “” urged Bush to approve the request.

The request was passed to FEMA, which turned it down last week. [San Jose Mercury News, 11/1/03]

FEMA was refusing California’s pleas up to the tragic end:

On Oct. 24, just hours before the Southern California wildfires began to rage out of control, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a state application for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas. The letter came six months after the governor’s office warned the agency that the state considered the dead trees an immediate threat to lives and property. [Los Angeles Times, 12/15/03]

Same Michael Brown, different day. He should have been fired two years ago.