Michael Brown, ex-FEMA head, has advice, criticism for Obama about Hurricane Sandy


In general, Brown feels, it's a challenge for both campaigns to respond to an issue like Hurricane Sandy, when it's still unknown what kind of impact it will have once it really hits.

"The problem is -- everybody, both campaigns, the public, the media, even the first responders, are in this awkward time period," he says. "It's either gonna be the worst thing...or not be nearly as bad as expected or fizzle out.

Michael Brown, Governor Hickenlooper, KHOW.jpeg
Courtesy of KHOW
Michael Brown interviewing Governor John Hickenlooper
"It's the most awkward time.... You don't want to send the wrong message politically...on how seriously you should take it.... The message should be, you need to take it seriously."

And as someone who has experience in natural disasters, does Brown have any general advice for the president?

"My advice to him is that he needs to call the cabinet and tell the cabinet members that if [current FEMA head] Craig Fugate calls and asks for something, the expectation is he is going to get whatever he needs," Brown replies. "The cabinet will fully cooperate and give him whatever he wants."

And when it is appropriate for either side to resume campaign activities and travels?

"It's really a tough question," he concedes. "It depends on if there's really minimal-to-no loss of life, if there's minimal property damage. If it just boils down to subways and airports being shut down, if it's a huge inconvenience, then I say go ahead.... But if it turns into a situation with a major blackout in the northeast...infrastructure problems, bridges and railroads out, then he needs to weigh that.... It might be 24 hours, 36 hours, might be three days."

The president was scheduled to have a rally in Colorado Springs tomorrow, but that has since been canceled. At this writing, however, he has a scheduled rally in Boulder on Thursday.

Paul Ryan was also supposed to attend rallies throughout Colorado tomorrow, but at this time, all those events have been canceled as well.

"Right now," Brown maintains, "both campaigns need to let the first responders and governors do what they need to do. Basically say, 'If we can help in any way, let us know.'"

Since Hurricane Sandy has dominated headlines in recent days, 2011 comments from Romney saying that FEMA should be shut down and power should be given to the states have resurfaced. His campaign has clarified that Romney believes states should have more authority, but he does not think FEMA should be abolished.

Brown agrees. "It's more of a statement of fact.... This has always been my theory. The stronger you make the federal government, the weaker you make local governments.... State and local responders need to be as robust as they possibly can.... What FEMA should be doing right now is coordinating, [telling governors and mayors], 'What do you need? How can we help?'"

He adds, "Everything that really needs to be done is a state and local issue.... The feds are more about helping financially."

Even though early voting has already begun in Colorado, could the canceled rallies have any sort of impact on either campaign in this key battleground state?

"The rallies drive...media, and that helps keep enthusiasm up to the extent that rallies can," he says. "So if the enthusiasm is at a level five, a rally might take it up to a level six... They just need to make sure their ground games continue."

Offering his take on the state of the race in Colorado, he adds, "I think the enthusiasm level is great in Colorado for Romney, and at the end of the day, that'll carry Romney over the top."

More from our Politics archive: "Immigration advocate, legal citizen gets Scott Gessler's non-citizen letter"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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101 comments
Paul Vincent Saurini
Paul Vincent Saurini

Michael Blah, ex blah has blah blah blah blah to say about President blah

liberal_application
liberal_application

Brown, like Romney, insists that the disaster-support efforts should a "local issue", but completely fails to address how local authorities can be expected to function when their infrastructure is in the same mess as the disaster area which needs help?

Michael Cano
Michael Cano

ok wait seriously???? and this guy his opinion counts after the debacle katrina assistance was??? funny

Matt Leising
Matt Leising

Because he did such an amazing job after Katrina. Haters gotta hate!

Ehron Moats
Ehron Moats

I live in Denver because of what Brownie did to New Orleans he doesn't have the balls to tell anyone shit about shit. Yeah Katrina may have caused the damage but Brownie stood there and did nothing along with that Bitch Bush

Ben Beeby
Ben Beeby

This is like asking Josh McDaniel about the Job Foxy, Elway and Manning are doing. If you are the worse excuse in American history at doing your job, keep your mouth shut. I still cannot believe this guy had the balls to come out from under the rock he should have been hiding under after Katrina.

K. Lyn Baker
K. Lyn Baker

Heck of a job making a horse's ass of yourself, Brownie.

Glenn Chavez
Glenn Chavez

Considering that Brown resigned in disgrace shortly after Katrina, specifically because of his piss-poor handling of that situation, Michael Brown is absolutely the LAST person who should be voicing any kind of opinion on this subject. Funny, I don't see NJ Gov. Chris Christie complaining about the administration's or FEMA's response.

Anthony Chavez
Anthony Chavez

That's why brownie is unemployed! Doesn't know shift!

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones

Well Westword, I think Michael Brown is full of shit.

jeanocelot
jeanocelot

As someone who was a resident of St. Bernard Parish - i.e., the parish immediate down the river from New Orleans on the East Bank of the Mississippi River (i.e., the bank where most of the close-in New Orleans area lies) which got water up to about 12' NGVD (and which flooded virtually every structure) - and then a resident of Jefferson County, CO for a few winters while I roamed the world as a Katrina refugee (winters obviously because I am a skier), I am probably in a unique position to offer some commentary on this.

 

The bottom line is that Brown was a pure know-nothing political hack who had absolutely no idea how to handle the Katrina disaster.  Of course, he was the perfect embodiment of his boss, W - i.e., the king of imcompetence.  For this quack to offer advice and commentary on the Sandy disaster is incredible.  To paraphrase an excellent editorial @ nola.com, it would be like Kyle Orton offering commentary as to why John Elway was a failed QB!  Yes, it's that bad!  Perhaps Brown realized he did such a horrid job at managing a sea flood that he figured he should move to the big city that is the farthest away from sea level as possible!

 

Up until NFL commissioner Goddell became New Orleans' most hated person (i.e., for taking away our head coach for this season), Brown easily held that title.  Ironically, although our governor Jindal shows certain tendencies like W, he has been a very effective disaster manager (although he did go a little overboard on some aspects of the big oil spill of 2010.)

lilyuniverse
lilyuniverse

Why are they even talking to this guy?  Why give him the mouthpiece to spout off any opinion this guy has?  he's done.

MountainGeek
MountainGeek

" "It's either gonna be the worst thing...or not be nearly as bad as expected or fizzle out."

 

Kinda got it surrounded there Brownie - heckofajob. 

Dtscoot
Dtscoot

Why would any legitimate news organization publish this incompetent fools thoughts on ANYTHING after screwing up so badly? Shame on you for giving this idiot a platform to comment.

smichael
smichael

Thank heavens!  I was so worried about Brownie!!  NOT!  Obama campaign might compare Katrina photos(the teeaming masses, Brownie and W., and Barbara Bush saying some elitist thing about how grateful "they" should be for shelter) with Obama at FEMA, at Red Cross and with Gov. Christie today--eager to see pix!-- and remind Americans that we have a choise--go back or go forward. It's that simple.

topgun88
topgun88

Seriously, the man who is responsible for how many deaths, and hospitals being unable to function, and people stranded without water.  The man who quit versus being fired.  The man who it telling people where the traffic is now, today?  This man who is hated by millions, who was ill equip to manage anything, (ok maybe telling where a crash is in Denver afternoon commute).  Does he really think that the President spoke to quickly in order to save lives and encourage them to follow instructions from their local and state governments, versus what he did leisurley waiting to see what was going to happen. This man is a loser in every sense of the word, and has no right to say anything about President Obama.  His opinions mean nothing. His experience means nothing as he failed to do his job. He was in over his head, but in a safe place.  Ultimately the President saved lives and Mr. Brown he caused people to lose their lives. If you know something bad is about to happen you take precautions, you do not wait until the storm hits.  Anyone listening to Brown needs to think twice and compare to two disaters.  I will go with President Obama's quick action, versus watching dead bodies floating all around New Orleans.  Mr. Brown I hope when you go to bed at night you are hauted by the lives you took.  I hope you are miserable.  

desicortez
desicortez

Who cares what Mike Brown thinks . . . ? That’s both an interesting  and unsettling thought for  Americans-Of-Color, like myself.

 

Perhaps we do  “live behind enemy-lines”  if  former FEMA head Michael Brown, the infamous “Big Easy Butcher” is deemed the proper person, an “interesting” character to provide an enlightened opinion as to whether-or-not president Obama properly reacted to Hurricane Sandy.

 

His advice/criticism of the President was predictable, overtly political and hypocritical-as-hell.

 

Nevertheless the man has blood on his hands . . .  tragically in the eye’s of  “Real Americans” it’s merely the blood of irrelevant, expendable,  poor Black folks. Undeniably experts and lay-persons hold “Brownie“ responsible,  liable and still un-accountable for his dereliction-of-duties during Hurricane Katrina and the infamous disaster’s aftermath, one which resulted in the death of hundreds of New Orleanians.

 

But who gives a damn . . .?

 

Brown’s a mass-murderer in the estimation of millions . . .   and therein lies the tragedy of-it all; Colorado’s a welcoming, warm n’ fuzzy  place for Brown, where the AM hate-radio audience, and more notably corporate sponsors like the Broncos, Rockies and CU Buffs are comfortable being associated with Brown  . . .   as opposed-to rejecting any business relations with him  because of his indifferent, lackadaisical disregard for human life.

 

Brown’s acceptance, his popularity underscores the fact a Black life has about-the-same value today as it has over the centuries . . . . 

TooFunny
TooFunny

This guy is a great guy to ask for suggestions and do the exact opposite

slanderous
slanderous

The only job he can get is second fiddle on a second rate AM RADIO talk show in a second class state? Yeah. his opinion really holds a lot of weight. Not to mention the fact that he was completely inept as the "Man in charge" during Katrina and most likely personally responsible for more than a few deaths during that "inconvenience".

 

MisterN
MisterN

I looked at Brownie's resume prior be heading up FEMA, and decided to ask a question that would go to his area of expertise regarding natural disasters.  Brownie, during a natural disaster, how often should I scoop the horse-crap out of my horse's stall?  Should I clean the horse dung more often, or just leave it and hope the bad weather washes, blows, or burns it away? 

 

Any tips on the best technique on shoveling horse-crap in high winds, so it doesn't end up embarrassingly flying into your face?  You must have had some first-hand tips you forwarded to Bush's "Office of Lessons Learned" to avoid this same problem you experienced personally during Katrina. 

 

Please feel free to post your response here, Brownie.

 

 

PS -- What is the best way to try and clean the sink of horse-crap off of you after the natural disaster is over?  Oh wait, nevermind.  It doesn't look like you've ever solved that problem.  You still stink.

tyson_kam
tyson_kam

On the day Katrina struck, Brown wrote "Can I quit now? Can I go home?" He later quipped to a friend on September 2 that he could not meet her because he was "trapped [as FEMA head] ... please rescue me."; and at another time "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."

In another e-mail, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, advised him to roll up his sleeves "to look more hard-working... Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow."

An e-mail offering critical medical equipment went unanswered for four days.

m_c_nelson
m_c_nelson

BITCH PLEASE Nobody has given a dang about you for over 7 years. How dare you ACT like you actually were qualified for dog catcher. Or act like you were anything other than a payback position for donations you made to that other idiot. Oh; that is right. You were partially responsible for all this crap by helping elect that shit hat. Your best bet lay low and shut up.

Gabriel
Gabriel

The Obama "Team" IS responsible for denying increased security in Benghazi -- the facts are clear and the responsibility inescapable.  Why is it that liberals are always so quick to misinterpret (or knowingly misrepresent) conservative efforts to reduce costs by improving efficiencies?  When liberals accuse conservatives of trying to "cut funding for embassy security" for example, it creates the false impression that they are trying to weaken or eliminate embassy security -- clearly a false accusation.  And no one in their right mind (liberal or conservative) denies a request for increased security "because we don't have enough money in our budget" -- or maybe liberals might deny the request, if they think they could blame conservatives for the anticipated tragedy -- and maybe some liberals might regard any resulting deaths or damage as an unfortunate cost of winning the propaganda war against conservatives.

 

As for the handling of "Sandy", of course Obama is "playing politics" to a certain degree, like just about every other politician, but even conservatives have no doubt about his genuine sympathy for those facing tragic consequences, and about his good advice to take the storm seriously as it approaches, and follow the instructions of the authorities.

straighshuter
straighshuter

Republicans in Congress charged that the White House had covered up important facts and had turned down repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi before the fatal attack. The State Department's former point man on security in Libya told the House Oversight Committee that he asked for additional security help for the Benghazi facility months before the attack, but was denied. Various communications dating back a year asked for three to five diplomatic security agents, according to testimony at a hearing. But Eric Nordstrom, the one-time regional security officer, said he verbally asked for 12 agents. The request for 12 agents was rebuffed by the regional director of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Nordstrom testified. "For me and my staff, it was abundantly clear that we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident," Nordstrom said. And a link where a Republican admits that they voted to cut funding for embassy security.

 

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/10/10/985191/chaffetz-absolutely-funding-embassy-security/ And Republican's blame President Obama for Benghazi?  Get a life.  Republican's are responsible.

 

President Obama handled Storm "Sandy" well and American's should be thankful that we didn't have to ask Republican's for their support.  Great Job President Obama!

jsheri93
jsheri93

You're damned if you do - damned if you don't.  So much useless hate in our Country....

 

godog
godog

Tell "Brownie" we would love a visit to Louisiana for a nice day on the waterboard in the swamp.

blythe
blythe

Why in the WORLD would ANYBODY with two arcing brain cells give a horse's rear end what this incompetent, clueless hack has to say about ANYTHING, least of all how competent people handle a major disaster?  Why did anybody waste time talking to this cretin?

grossjennifer
grossjennifer

Why would anyone ask this person a question about disaster relief? He was such utter failure at it..he is no "expert"

mitch104
mitch104

OK.  If I recall there are "for profit" prisons in Colorado.  My question.  How much to lock this asshole up with the meanest Mofo's in the world that will beat him daily and bore out his asshole until it's big enough for him to crawl into it?  I'll chip in.

labman57
labman57

Translation: Obama's continuing efforts to be proactive, responsive, decisive, and receptive to the needs of the American people are all part of a political contrivance to make people believe that the POTUS is proactive, responsive, decisive, and receptive to the needs of the American people.

cahubble09
cahubble09

How do I get that job of Brownie's ... kill a bunch of people because of my negligence, and then go on the speaking circuit while forming a consulting firm ... ?? What cahones ... This guy takes the cake.

 

Hey Brownie, shut the @##$%$% up and go crawl back under that rock where you've been hiding the last few years. SHEESH!!!

 

seventyfourpercent
seventyfourpercent

This guy is a DOUCHE. He should go back under his rock, he's wasting good air

charliz_99
charliz_99

Are you kidding me!!! YOU ARE THE LAST PERSON WHO SHOULD UTTER A WORD ABOUT DISASTER RESPONSE. I lived through the aftermath of your limp, ineffective response to Katrina. You should have had your ass kicked multiple times before you left the NOLA and the Gulf States to go wherever you went. JACKASS

my2cents
my2cents

lol at least over here on Westword I can speak my mind...

 

omg..is this guy an asshole or what!!!!!

slanderous
slanderous

 @slanderous

 Nothing personal Colorado. Love your state and people and mountains. But you are noplace even near a major market and it is what it is

Dtscoot
Dtscoot

@Gabriel how dare you? I'm living this disaster on the East River in NY and like most conservatives you sit on your high horse until you need the help and then you and yours are the first on line with your hand out for a gov't giveaway. Your all such hypocrites.

her_myungness
her_myungness

@Gabriel One question: what was the bigger security and intelligence oversight, Benghazi or 9/11? Bush had a memo warning that Bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil using a plane on his desk when 9/11 happened. Just saying, keep things in perspective and don't have too short a memory.

Tuuktalus
Tuuktalus

 @mitch104 Do you want to chip in with money or to beat him and bore out his asshole? You didnt specify.

Stingernick
Stingernick

 @dztrayn I take exception to his response there too, The best thing to do politically is take care of your citizens during a disaster and politics be damned. That's the only response I'll accept. Something like  ‘The election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.’ -Obama

bung_8
bung_8

 @dztrayn Wow. That interview does not make him look any better.  He states that Obama would have been "better served politically" if he waited longer before acting.  That assumes that Obama would value his political profile over the storm and it's threat to these states.  And I completely doubt that's the case.  That is a cynical statement, to be sure. 

sherrirbgr
sherrirbgr

 @dztrayn right -- this is NOT a transcript of the interview, it is him trying to remove foot out of mouth.  AND at the 05:00 mark, he admits he did say that he felt that FEMA (Obama) was premature in declaring the emergency, and again at 06:45.  Sirota is obviously pandering to Brownie by feeding him lines to help him dig his foot out.

jeanocelot
jeanocelot

 @slanderous Denver is the queen city of the Rockies with a high level of visibility, and is a major city in its own right that is only subordinate to the twin cultural capitals of New York City & Los Angeles.  It is a big enough town to considered  the big time, short of going national.  And KOA is THE clear channel AM radio station of Denver, the king of the news-talk stations in Denver.

 

As for Brown being idiot - of course, I concur.

dztrayn
dztrayn

Brown was ASKED about the political aspect  and gave his response within that framework. He was talking about the timing of Obama's statement to the press, NOT  the president's response to the disaster. That said, Brown is a tool, but Levin is a snake.

dztrayn
dztrayn

There is no transcript of the interview. I doubt Levin would provide one, as he clearly has an agenda. Did you notice that NONE of the questions asked of Brown were included in this blog? An honest exchange would show the questions as well as answers in quotations. 

 

bung_8
bung_8

 @dztrayn True. Perhaps I could have been clearer.  It was a terrible question to ask with an unfortunate answer.  

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