Twitter Updates

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Annemarie Conroy is doing a heckuva job

Remember this:

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans.
Thinking about which doomsday scenario hasn't happened yet suggests that emergency preparedness in San Francisco should be a top priority. Yet our Office of Emergency Services is being run by somebody whose qualifications are that she is an, "ENGLISH MAJOR who has the good grace of being a Republican and a friend of a powerful past mayor."

In ethics, the appearance of impropriety is impropriety. In disaster response, the perception of incompetence is incompetence. Katrina should have been a wake-up call that people like Michael Brown and Annemarie Conroy have no business "leading" disaster relief organizations. None. Zero. Zip.

I took the picture to the right in New Orleans and I don't want to see the incompetence that destroyed that city be visited upon our City.

Annemarie Conroy should not be running San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services -- if she doesn't resign she should be shitcanned. Again, the perception of incompetence is unexcusable. And this should have been taken care of last fall, but Conroy put her career above the safety of San Franciscans. When people pushed for her to resign, she said:
"I am not planning to make any changes in my employment with the city and county of San Francisco. We have done an absolutely outstanding job at the Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security."
That was bullshit back then and has since been confirmed as bullshit by Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey Rose's 172-page audit:
The audit calls into question the department's readiness for a disaster, its spending habits and Conroy's experience in emergency preparedness, and it says the Office of Emergency Services is top-heavy with management. [...]

The department manages more than $82 million in federal and state Homeland Security grants, but to date has spent only about $22.5 million and risks losing much of the grant money when it expires at the end of the year, Rose's report said. The audit said Conroy's office had spent only 1 percent of that $22.5 million on disaster preparedness training. More than half of the city's grant money has gone to cover personnel costs such as salaries, overtime and health insurance, the report said.
Conroy responded by whining about the audit even as she said she would implement the vast majority of the recomendations.
Rose stood by his findings and asked why Conroy and her aides had never raised the concerns during numerous discussions with auditors before the report was released. If Conroy can refute any of the points in his audit, he said, "then I'll eat those specific facts printed in the report with ketchup."

Others in City Hall said Conroy's support of nearly all the recommendations but opposition to many of the audit's findings sent a mixed message. "There appears to be an overabundance of political triage," said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who sits on the city's Disaster Council. "And it seems to be missing the point of the audit, which is, is the OES doing the job it's assigned to do?"

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who called for the audit, said, "San Franciscans would be best served if (agency officials) stopped being defensive and went about their job of embracing the recommendations and acknowledging the inadequacies of our emergency services department."

Indeed. Yet the first thing that needs to happen is a change in leadership.
A scathing audit of San Francisco's disaster preparedness is out. The ABC7 I-Team obtained a draft of the audit last week and now that the final report is out, pressure is mounting for the disaster chief to step down.

The final report is what we expected. It slams disaster chief Annemarie Conroy for lack of coordination with important agencies, for failing to complete basic emergency plans and for mishandling tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants.

Annemarie Conroy's been San Francisco's disaster chief going on two years and today, she received a bad report card -- a 200-page management audit.

Aaron Peskin, president, Board of Supervisors: "Frankly, I think the audit confirmed what a lot of people believed."

I agree. My disaster preparation is to survive in spite of OES, not with the office's support. I have zero confidence in Annemarie Conroy, not even as a political hack (I've seen her cause campaigns far more trouble than she contributed).

The coverage of the issue is even further eroding the little trust people have for the office. In the event of a disaster, the last thing that needs to happen is for people to disregard coordination -- that is a recipe for panic. But I can see zero reason why anyone should have faith in Annemarie Conroy. The New York Times reported:
In a blistering report issued Monday about San Francisco's disaster preparedness, an auditor suggested that the city's office of emergency services was a top-heavy bureaucracy that might be ill-equipped to deal with a catastrophe like an earthquake or a terrorist attack. [...]

The report considered the city's preparation for manmade and natural disasters and found fault with both. It said the emergency operations center for the medical examiner was in a building that might not survive a major earthquake. And it cited a March exercise in which some emergency responders did not know which radio channel to use, reminiscent of a problem for firefighters at the World Trade Center during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Lawrence M. Wein, a professor of management science at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., who has studied domestic security, said many cities had struggled to improve their terrorism response plans since Sept. 11. "Most cities and states hardly gave it a thought before that," Dr. Wein said.

As for earthquake preparation, he said the Bay Area had few excuses.

The best quote in the article comes from Conroy: "We're putting San Francisco on a new level." The problem is that Conroy isn't competent enough to realize that the level she's put us on is not the level at which San Franciscans deserve to be. I'll sleep better once she is replaced.

No comments: