Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Leaders and Lawyers in FEMA!

I was a member of the FEMA General Counsel office from 1979-1999 when I retired. I have posted on my other blog at http://www.vacationlanegrp.wordpress.com an article about the SALT effort in the current OCC.

Some background: Of the five General Counsels I worked with only two could be characterized as activists. The others lawyered carefully and defensively which was good but really only served to provide rationales for inaction to the FEMA leadership.

I often said that if I was made the GC I would only issue the NO opinions while all those working for me could issue the YES opinions. I was also never allowed to guide the legal direction of the statute that gave the widest discretion to FEMA, specifically the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 [Public Law 93-288]that was superseded in part, revised in part, and supplemented in part by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act [Public Law 100-707] both codified in Title 42 of the US Code starting at Section 5121.

Oddly perhaps only two of the Directors of FEMA I served under were activists, specifically Lewis O. Guiffrida and James Lee Witt. They did not exactly overlap the activists lawyer General Counsel's willing to say yes.

But I am glad to see the SALT effort being made by current Chief Counsel Brad Keiserman.

This October 1st I will have been retired 13 years from FEMA. In that time I have had only one official call back to provide some factual information and that concerned the so-called FAST BREAKER nuclear accident/incident at a power reactor. I stated then as now that FEMA's REPP did NOT take into account that event nor did NRC's regulatory efforts.

Perhaps Lessons Learned from FUKISHIMA will change that conclusion.