Does this Administration just never learn??? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Does this Administration just never learn???

Let's see, given the choice of calling a press conference to field questions from the press on what is going on in California or STAGING a press conference, what does our intrepid FEMA/DHS kiddies chose? And their rationalization is dead f'n brill.


FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be . . . FEMA

By Al Kamen
Friday, October 26, 2007; Page A19

FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.

Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices. They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a "listen only" line, the notice said -- no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News, MSNBC and other outlets.

Johnson stood behind a lectern and began with an overview before saying he would take a few questions. The first questions were about the "commodities" being shipped to Southern California and how officials are dealing with people who refuse to evacuate. He responded eloquently.

He was apparently quite familiar with the reporters -- in one case, he appears to say "Mike" and points to a reporter -- and was asked an oddly in-house question about "what it means to have an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration" signed by the president. He once again explained smoothly.

FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker interrupted at one point to caution he'd allow just "two more questions." Later, he called for a "last question."

"Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?" a reporter asked. Another asked about "lessons learned from Katrina."

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far," Johnson said, hailing "a very smoothly, very efficiently performing team."

"And so I think what you're really seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership," Johnson said, "none of which were present in Katrina." (Wasn't Michael Chertoff DHS chief then?) Very smooth, very professional. But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.
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Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by "Mike" Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John "Pat" Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.

Asked about this, Widomski said: "We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute."

But the staff did not make up the questions, he said, and Johnson did not know what was going to be asked. "We pulled questions from those we had been getting from reporters earlier in the day." Despite the very short notice, "we were expecting the press to come," he said, but they didn't. So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.

"If the worst thing that happens to me in this disaster is that we had staff in the chairs to ask questions that reporters had been asking all day, Widomski said, "trust me, I'll be happy."

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 11:18 AM
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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The Bush Administration is Appalled, APPALLED, I tell you that FEMA would do this, or that they didn't think of it first. It's one of the two.

FoxNews, Armstrong Williams and James "Jeff Gannon" Guckert sit in corner, smiling approvingly.


________________________________________________
October 27, 2007
FEMA under fire for 'faking' news conference

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California.

The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency's deputy director.

The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the "error in judgment," she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.

"FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California," Perino said. "It's not something I would have condoned. And they — I'm sure — will not do it again."

She said the agency was just trying to provide information to the public, through the press, because there were so many questions.

"I don't think that there was any mal-intent," Perino said "It was just a bad way to handle it, and they know that."

FEMA gave real reporters only 15 minutes notice about Tuesday's news conference . But because there was so little advance notice, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in.

And many did, although it was a listen-only arrangement.

On Thursday, FEMA employees had played the part of reporters. Johnson issued a statement Friday, saying that FEMA's goal was "to get information out as soon as possible, and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment."

"Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received," he said. "We can and must do better."

Officials at the Homeland Security Department, which includes FEMA, expressed their concern.

"This is simply inexcusable and offensive to the secretary that such a mistake could be made," Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said Friday, referring to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

"Stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated."

Keehner said senior leadership is considering whether a punishment is necessary.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 03:18 PM
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So what, no administration could have done better.
IF you live in this County you Will have the burn, eventually
I saw the fires first hand, zip 91977 (4 miles),
There was no problem.
those who stayed by choice took the risk,
those who evacuated did so.
The community responded well.
In this area they do not need trailers. (well maybe, manufactured homes)
Now they need to expedite things such as restore water, electricity, construction permit process. The rebuild process is where the difference will become clear.
There is one family that moved into their rebuilt house on Sunday only to have it burn again. Fires in 2003 rebuilds took 4 years.
That time lag is crazy, insurance and permit delays.

The smoke damage is tremendous and necessitates rebuild even if the structure is intact.
My personal opinion is that they should not build "out in the country" where it is known to burn. And those who did clear brush, had a much better chance of being intact after the burn through.
I live in an area with piped in gas, water, and piped out sewer.= safe from wildfire.
San Diego City boy.

Brian O

Last edited by bostosh; 10-27-2007 at 03:22 PM. Reason: addition
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 03:26 PM
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 04:34 PM
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Chertoff rips phony press event

WASHINGTON - The homeland security chief on Saturday tore into his own employees for staging a phony news conference at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Michael Chertoff said.

"I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose, that it is not to ever happen again and there will be appropriate disciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited what I regard as extraordinarily poor judgment," he added.

Asked specifically if he planned to fire anyone at FEMA, which is part of his department, Chertoff declined to say, citing personnel rules.

"There will be appropriate discipline," he told reporters at a news conference with New York's governor where they announced an agreement on a driver's license plan.

Chertoff said he knew nothing about the matter until after it happened and that he "can't explain why it happened."

The White House on Friday scolded FEMA for the faux press conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California.

The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of reporters at the event Tuesday and question Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy director.

The questions were soft and gratuitous.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.

FEMA gave reporters only 15 minutes notice about Tuesday's news conference. But because of the short notice, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in. Many did, although it was a listen-only arrangement.

Johnson said in a statement Friday that FEMA's goal was "to get information out as soon as possible and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment."

"Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received," he said. "We can and must do better."

Chertoff rips phony press event - Yahoo! News
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostosh View Post
So what, no administration could have done better.
IF you live in this County you Will have the burn, eventually
I saw the fires first hand, zip 91977 (4 miles),
There was no problem.
those who stayed by choice took the risk,
those who evacuated did so.
The community responded well.
In this area they do not need trailers. (well maybe, manufactured homes)
Now they need to expedite things such as restore water, electricity, construction permit process. The rebuild process is where the difference will become clear.
There is one family that moved into their rebuilt house on Sunday only to have it burn again. Fires in 2003 rebuilds took 4 years.
That time lag is crazy, insurance and permit delays.

The smoke damage is tremendous and necessitates rebuild even if the structure is intact.
My personal opinion is that they should not build "out in the country" where it is known to burn. And those who did clear brush, had a much better chance of being intact after the burn through.
I live in an area with piped in gas, water, and piped out sewer.= safe from wildfire.
San Diego City boy.
Once the smoke clears re-read the thread and catch the point.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2007, 07:51 PM
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-29-2007, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Attention K-Mart shoppers Chertoff found his balls in aisle 7. Apparently DHS apologist Chertoff has finally decided to acknowledge that stupid things DO happen to stupid people and has quit defending every single move of his agencies.

Now if he could just get TSA to find the test bombs better than 28% of the time instead of focusing on the extra ounces of shampoo found 100% of the time.

Fake FEMA News Conference Ends Organizer's Bid for New Job at Office of DNI
Monday, October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON — A fake news conference at FEMA headquarters in Washington last week has cost its organizer a new job at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

FOX News learned Monday that John P. "Pat" Philbin, who was supposed to be joining the ODNI's public affairs division on Monday as its chief, is no longer being considered for the job.

"We do not normally comment on personnel matters. However, we can confirm that Mr. Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence," a spokesman for the ODNI's office said in a prepared statement.

The Associated Press reported earlier that Philbin's hire was being put on hold so Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell could review Philbin's record.

Philbin came under fire last week after he put together a short-notice, televised news conference at FEMA headquarters regarding the southern California wildfires. Members of the press couldn't participate in the event, but could listen through a call-in number. No journalists were physically present at the event featuring FEMA deputy administrator Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson.

Questions ended up being asked by FEMA employees — including Philbin — who posed as reporters.

Working press panned the news conference for its soft-ball questions, which included: "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"

FEMA later apologized for the phony news briefing and said it was reviewing its procedures for dealing with news organizations.

The Bush administration has had a strong response as a result, drawing a clear line that the news conference method is unacceptable.

Michael Chertoff, chief of the Department of Homeland Security — which oversees FEMA — knocked the conference as bone-headed on Saturday.

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Chertoff said.

"I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose, that it is not to ever happen again and there will be appropriate disciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited what I regard as extraordinarily poor judgment," he added.

Asked Friday by reporters if she thought the conference style was appropriate, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, "It is not. It is not a practice that we would employee here at the White House or that we -- we certainly don't condone it. We didn't know about it beforehand."

And lawmakers, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain, also criticized the FEMA employees.

"At no time, under no circumstances should there be a phony press conference," McCain said Sunday, adding that it was obviously a fake press conference because none of the FEMA staff showed "the chutzpah of the real working press. We could never find anybody who could be that aggressive."

FOXNews.com - Fake FEMA News Conference Ends Organizer's Bid for New Job at Office of DNI - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum

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