He got the World Class stamp of approval for being one of the few FEMA officials in New Orleans during and immediately after Katrina. He got eyewitness reports back to the Washington informing them of the levee breaches the day the storm hit and also made news for his emails alerting an out-to-lunch Brownie of the “shit” going on in the Superdome.
It turns out he was going above and beyond. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a conference yesterday that it’s not in Bahamonde’s job description to do all that:
The fact of the matter is, as heroic and as excellent his performance was, we shouldn’t have had to force somebody who is essentially a public affairs representative to get in a helicopter and give a situational awareness. So we’ve got to make sure we all have the tools to avoid having to put people in that situation in the future.A “public affairs representative” is supposed to be the mouth of the agency, not the eyes and ears. Public Affairs Officers interact with the media. No where in the Public Affairs Field Guide (pdf) does it say the PAO should be the first FEMA official witnessing a catastrophic levee breach occurring and telling the agency to get their asses in gear.
It’s not his job. Bahamonde is supposed to tell the media what his bosses were doing. Instead, he was telling his bosses what to do.
Marty, this Restoration Ale is for you.