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July 2010 Archives
July 01, 2010

It is important that as emergency managers that we keep our eyes on the legislative ball as it bounces along at the federal, state and local levels.

Sometimes people say they don't like "politics" but let me tell you that you cannot be an effective emergency manager if you just focus on the four phases and don't know what is being written in our various legislative bodies that will impact your ability to function.

Bill Cumming has a nice update on the Stafford Act machinations that you might want to take a look at. Reforming the Act has been debated for many years. Eventually someone is going to take on that challenge and the tweaking will end and a full blown rewrite will happen.

See Robert T. Stafford Act

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July 01, 2010

I'm always looking for information from wherever I can find it. Interestingly this event described below is not a Webinar, but a teleconference. If you live in Hurricane Land, it might be something to check out.

Hurricane Preparedness Teleconference

Tuesday, July 13
11am Pacific | 2pm Eastern

Hurricane Season is here. Are you prepared? Join in this Digital Communities teleconference and gain insight on how to prepare from experts who have been on the ground during major hurricanes.

Discussions will include:

• Resources to monitor and track potential hurricane activity
• Hurricane preparedness tips for public safety professionals and citizens
• Ensuring communications before, during and after a hurricane

Speakers are:

Tanya Lin-Jones: PMP, Manager Emergency Response Team Operations, Sprint Nextel Corp.

Mark Suddith: Editor, Hurricanetrack.com

Register Here

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July 01, 2010

The following message is from Gail McGovern, President and CEO, American Red Cross:

"I'm very pleased to tell you all that Charley Shimanski will become our Senior Vice President of Disaster Services, reporting directly to me.

Charley Shimanski, a 25-year emergency responder, risk management specialist and Chief Executive at our Mile High Chapter in Denver, will work alongside Joe through this hurricane season, ensuring a smooth transition until he replaces Joe this fall. While Charley is onboarding, Joe will still be leading Disaster Services as SVP until after the hurricane season this November, at which point Charley will take over.

Charley is ideally suited for his new role and brings a wealth of financial acumen to the position. As chief executive of the Mile High Chapter, he grew the revenue and managed expenditures to achieve a surplus of $533,000 in fiscal year 2009, the chapter's fourth consecutive year of surplus. He also set the stage for dramatic growth in FY10 revenues, staff and service delivery, while also maintaining vital partnerships with disaster response organizations and political officials statewide.

As I mentioned, Charley will bring the financial management background necessary to oversee our complex Disaster Services organization and build its infrastructure for the future. At Mile High, he is responsible for one of the largest Red Cross financial Centers of Expertise (to include 5 states, $23 million in expenditures). Moreover, in a previous position at OppenheimerFunds in Denver, Charley managed worldwide banking relationships and automated investment systems; he was also responsible for implementing PC-based accounting and client management systems at another investment firm. Charley's blend of operational and financial skills will make him a valued addition to the senior team.

Immediately prior to joining the Red Cross, Charley served as President and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, which represented all 19,000 Colorado non-profits, and he doubled the association's operating revenue in three years through aggressive fundraising and building strong partnerships.

No stranger to disasters, outside of his day-job Charley is a 25-year volunteer rescue professional and former Emergency Medical Technician, specializing in helicopter rescue. He just completed a two-year term as the volunteer President of the Mountain Rescue Association, where he supervised and taught volunteer search and rescue professionals internationally and acted as their national spokesperson. He helped coordinate the Colorado search and rescue dog response to the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11 and has authored several national training manuals on rescue operations. I can't think of an outlook more suited to Red Cross disaster relief.

An experienced Red Cross spokesperson for local, regional and national media, Charley worked in Denver International Airport Emergency Operations Center after the Continental Airlines flight 1404 crash in December 2008. I believe he will be a credible Red Cross spokesperson during times of national disaster when the public is looking for a calm and competent presence.

As Charley comes aboard, I'm thankful that Joe is not going far when he leaves Disaster Services in November. Joe is the consummate professional and has been an outstanding SVP of Disaster Services for the past five years. We will continue to rely on his always-sound counsel, experience and good judgment and the great Disaster Services team he has built."

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July 02, 2010

See the NY Times story State Budget Disaster

There is a mixture of politics and money in the air this summer. Should Congress reduce federal spending to start addressing the deficit and risk plunging the nation back into a recession, killing the recovery? Or, maybe the situation isn't that bad?

While states may have to "suck it up" and have more layoffs and eventually raise taxes to meet the needs of governing, doing so doesn't put the recovery at risk--or so some think. Both opinions are in the linked story.

Personally, I don't know what the right answer is. What I do know is this:

  • Many states have as much political gridlock as the federal government
  • Action will not come until there is a fiscal catastrophe for the organization
  • Taxes being raised will be the final step taken by any elected official in this current environment.
  • Citizens are going to be paying much more attention to their state and local government budgets and wanting accountability.
  • The costs of providing services and the pay and benefits going to government workers, including first responders will come under the microscope.
  • Emergency management is not immune from coming under the budget cutting knife
The end of the gravy train is near. One of the things the Gulf Oil Spill did was move other events off of page one to section B or C in the newspaper. Should a state announce that it is declaring bankruptcy -- that will be the tell tale sign of more bad news to come.

Bill Cumming shared the NY Times link.

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July 02, 2010

Bill Schrier is the CIO for the City of Seattle and he blogs.

His latest posting is on the relentless move to social media and how it can help government interact with its citizenry. All the IT changes that have happened have moved us along a trail of bits and bites, computing our way into the 21st Century.

While it is natural to resist change--change is inevitable. Perhaps not always for the good, but change will happen. I think the issue is not "Should we change?" but "When should we change?" Timing a change is as important as the change itself. Change to early and you have lots of grief to go with it. Change to late and you then are trying to catch up with market and societal forces.

Be sure and pop-in occasionally to read Bill's blog. I think you will read thoughtful postings that will assist you in deciding when to adopt and change technologies or at least your thinking on a topic.

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July 03, 2010

OK, so you are now motivated to start dabbling in social media for your organization. Where do you start?

While it is not comprehensive, see the article Few Creating Specific Plans for Social Media, Survey Says Perhaps this will give you a few ideas for a path forward on implementing social media for your agency or organization.

Go ahead, dip your toes in the water!

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July 03, 2010

Some of you may have been wondering about FEMA's role in the current Gulf Oil spill. There is a CRS Report Potential Stafford Act Declarations for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Issues for Congress

It is an informative document that provides some historical background on the oil spills and how they have been treated in the past. With the Federal Government now putting the heat on BP it doesn't look like there will be a Stafford Act declaration--for now anyway.

The disaster fund is out of cash anyway.

Bill Cumming shared this information.

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July 04, 2010

"You are judged by your actions, not your intentions." Lorna McLaren

We have many "to do" lists. They can be projects at home or work. For our families there might also be "to do" lists of vacations, promises of Disneyland, a trip to a national park, or perhaps a family outing to a ballgame.

Lists and promises are good, but the action is what counts. Do you follow through on what your intentions are? We all run into people who promise the world and then don't show up for the main event. While good intentions and words are swell, it is your actions that count.

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July 04, 2010

I suppose if you are not into the publishing world it doesn't make a hill of beans about how a web site is configured and what software it uses.

Governing Magazine just made the switch to a new format and content management system called Clickability.

While I've been blogging at Blogspot and they have been importing the blog posts I need to switch over to using Clickability. The challenge like in all software switches is learning the new system. Zach Presnall at e.Republic put together a nice little web training session for me. Now I need to bite the bullet and learn it and "switch."

See the write up on Governing at Media Business

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July 05, 2010

I was sent a pdf document that I could not find a link to on line. So I'll just summarize a few items that I found to be of interest:

  • 27 states have either the emergency management director or the combined HS/Em director serving as the State Administering Agency.
  • The number of new directors who have been in their jobs fro three years or less is still high at 28. Expect another turn over in directors as 36 states and two territories hold elections in 2010.
  • I was surprised that while the age of state directors is generally older, over half are 51-60 years old, the number of years in the emergency management profession was fairly low with the majority being 11 years or less.
  • 18 states have emergency management under the Adjutant General/Military Affairs. 14 are under public safety and 12 under the Governor.
  • The number of FTE's in state EM agencies is generally trending down [I think due to budget cuts].
  • California has the most staff with 551 for both EM/HLS and then there were a bunch of states (17) with 10 or less staff. I don't understand why Texas only has five and Pennsylvania three, but there must be an explanation there. Maybe HLS dominates in those states and they are separate.
  • There are 13 states where their entire budget for EM is federally funded--no state contribution.

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