Views on the News: FEMA Trouble
Amid the relief efforts during Hurricane Florence, FEMA chief Brock Long is under criminal investigation for misuse of Homeland Security funds and equipment, as reported in a Sept. 18 Washington Post story. Despite spending most of his time fighting off investigation, Long continues to remain head of the relief operation, and the Trump administration shows no signs of replacing him. Should an official currently under investigation for misuse of funds be allowed to run an agency during a humanitarian crisis, and does Long’s conduct hamstring his agency's relief efforts in the Carolinas?
Melanie Rush ’20
If Long truly engaged in criminal behavior, it is logical to argue that he has no right to control a vital federal agency such as FEMA, especially during the time of Hurricane Florence. However, the initial criminal investigation relating to his misuse of funds, centered around Long’s use of government vehicles to drive from Washington to his home in North Carolina, a practice disbanded in April. Ultimately, it was revealed that he will not be brought up on criminal charges. and instead will reimburse the government for the funds resulting from his personal vehicle use. Looking at the specific facts of the case, what Long did would be more accurately called a breach of protocol over criminal activity. Given the nature of destruction that hit the Carolinas, pulling out Long in this hectic time would most likely create more confusion and instead hamper any relief efforts already underway. While I may vehemently disagree with the way in which Long and FEMA handled Hurricane Maria, the actions that he took in this context alone do not warrant his removal FEMA.
Melanie Rush ’20 is Vice President of Mock Trial Internal Affairs and Events Coordinator for Brandeis Quiz Bowl.
Lucy Pugh-Sellers ‘20
While FEMA has long engendered a reputation for incompetence and cronyism, Brock Long's recent misdeeds threaten to strip away any credibility the agency has left. During a disaster on the level of Hurricane Florence, the nation's top disaster relief official should be fully focused on the crisis, not busy fighting off a federal investigation into their own corruption. President Trump's refusal to dismiss Mr. Long speaks volumes about the blind cruelty and incompetence of the current administration. The fact that it has fallen onto Kristejn Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary and an all-around awful person, to be the voice of the reason in this particular instance is damning.
Lucy Pugh-Sellers ’20 is majoring in History and Film, Television and Interactive Media and minoring in Afro and African-American Studies and Legal Studies.
Paul Berkson ’20
While I do not support Mr. Long's behavior, I do not think he should have to step down or take a leave of absence. It is important that government agencies have clear leadership, and even if Mr. Long is currently under investigation, FEMA needs a leader. I think that what is happening in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence is disastrous, and FEMA needs to be there in full force to give all of the help they can. If Mr. Long was fired and a new FEMA head had to be chosen, the disaster would be over by the time a new chief had been selected. I think he deserves to stay on until the end of this crisis.
Paul Berkson ’20 is majoring in Biology.