Wednesday, November 02, 2005

F.D.I.C. Chairman Picked to Oversee Gulf Recovery

Now, here's something you might find a bit interesting . . .

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 - The Bush administration on Tuesday named Donald E. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission and a former Texas banker with long ties to President Bush, to coordinate the federal role in rebuilding the parts of the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

He will report to the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, who said Mr. Powell brought "the leadership, ideas and optimism that the residents of the Gulf Coast region deserve." Mr. Chertoff, who said he had made the appointment in consultation with the White House, said Mr. Powell would be the administration's "primary point of contact with Congress, state and local governments, the private sector and community leaders on mid- and long-term recovery and rebuilding plans."


But he has no direct experience overseeing large-scale rebuilding efforts of the sort being undertaken by officials in Louisiana and Mississippi. Democrats were quick to draw parallels to Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who stepped aside after Hurricane Katrina under a firestorm of criticism and accusations that he did not have enough experience to do the job and got it only through connections.

"This appointment is business as usual and shows that the gulf recovery is not a top priority for the president," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. "Mr. Powell may be an accomplished banker and political fund-raiser, but according to the administration, he has no disaster recovery experience. I find this terribly troubling, especially given the tragic missteps of Michael Brown."

Though Mr. Powell will work for the Homeland Security Department, he will not be an employee of FEMA.


Many members of the Congressional delegations from Louisiana and Mississippi had been pressing the White House to appoint someone to take on the job. They praised the White House on Tuesday for doing so, but some suggested that the choice of Mr. Powell was a surprise.

"I had previously suggested alternative names with extensive backgrounds in the private sector or military logistics to fill this position," said Representative Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana, "but I am hopeful that Mr. Powell will bring the right skills and experience to provide the leadership and decision making ability this position requires."

Dr. Norman Francis, recently appointed the chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, welcomed the appointment and said a state delegation would soon meet with Mr. Powell. In a statement, he made it clear that he hoped Mr. Powell would overcome Washington's previous shortcomings and "eliminate roadblocks for the delivery of critical federal resources."

The White House said it had established a new Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding Council that would work with Mr. Powell to set federal policy on the rebuilding effort, the costs of which remain undetermined. The chairman of the council will be Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council.

I guess there "W" doesn't know anyone with experience so he has to call on his friends to fill the openings but surely Bush can remember how totally idiotic he looked as a result of Brown . . . why's he appointing Powell? How dumb is this man anyway?

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