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More Praise for Craig Fugate as FEMA Director-Nominee


We’re tracking the Fugate nomination and hearings process—not scheduled yet—and we’ll keep you posted. In other good news, reported by Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune, President Obama has nominated Jo-Ellen Darcy, a senior Senate adviser on environmental and water projects, to oversee the Army Corps of Engineers. (Garret Graves of Gov. Jindal’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration praises Darcy as “tough as nails and a solid choice.”) In the meantime, about Fugate . . .

While you might expect public officials to say nice things about a nominee with whom they’ll have to cooperate one day (see comments from Louisiana’s director of Homeland Security below), it is refreshing to also hear praise from a reporter who has been critical in a big, 322-page way, of the agency the nominee will direct. Bobby Block, coauthor of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security (2006), came to know Fugate while covering the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush years. Indeed, Fugate is one of the few public officials who comes out of Disaster looking not only good but as someone clearly deserving a promotion. (See our interview with Block and coauthor Chris Cooper here.) Block, who now covers NASA for the Orlando Sentinel, says of Fugate:

He is an inspired choice and will do well in the job. He is without doubt one of the best in the biz. From what I know, he is opposed to pulling FEMA out of DHS now because of the damage it would do to the systems FEMA now has developed and the amount of time it would take to try to stand up an independent agency again. I think Craig hopes that he can effect a change in the mindset of the department to make it central to DHS operations.

It’s a positive sign. There are a lot of improvements that Craig is working on along with another friend, Jason McNamara, who is now FEMA chief of staff. From what I understand Craig and Jason will be bringing back Bill Carwile as head of operations. So the right people with the right ideas are moving into place. I have high hopes. It’s also really nice to see merit rewarded.

Mark Cooper met Craig Fugate at a conference in Baton Rouge during Cooper’s first year as director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (appointed in 2008 by Gov. Jindal). Cooper says Fugate “is well respected amongst all state directors and will be good for Louisiana given his wealth of knowledge and experience in responding to hurricanes in Florida and with recovery issues. He understands the issues that states and local governments have dealt with and will provide outstanding leadership to the agency.”

Now, with hurricane season only two months away, if the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs will go ahead and schedule the hearings . . .

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