Seven days without being governor makes one weak – How Sanford got his groove back

Governor Mark Sanford MIA

Governor Mark Sanford MIA

Seven days without being governor makes one weak…and stupid.  You might be a really bad governor, and a really bad boss, if no one in your state knows where you are.  “I wanted to do something exotic,” is what South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford reportedly said upon returning from his mysterious trip to Argentina.  If by exotic Sanford meant stupid, then he certainly succeeded.

After losing a legislative battle over stimulus money, Sanford simply disappeared.  He apparently even skipped out on Father’s day without notifying his wife.  His staff wasn’t too sure where he was either.  They told reporters he was hiking the Appalachian Trail – never mentioning, or maybe not knowing, that he had in fact taken a hike alright, all the way to Argentina. 

Everyone needs a little alone time, some R&R if you will. R&R is a problem though when you’re the governor, you don’t tell a soul where you’re going and your staff can’t give the press straight answers. As the leader of a state and a politician who harbors greater political aspirations, Sanford’s dropping out of sight unannounced and unexplained  has some questioning his ability to govern under duress.  If he does run for the office of the president in 2012, as some in his party had suggested he do (prior to his ‘how Stella got her groove back’ move), what will he do when North Korea’s or Iran’s leadership hurt his feelings?   I’m not sure I want to adopt a wait and see attitude for that one.  Do you?

Read the full, bizarre account of the governor’s disappearance here.

Update: From the ‘this comes as a surprise to no one files’ the governor admits to having an affair with a woman in Argentina. As we suggested above, he really did try to get his groove back. He’s very sorry, and he even shed some tears at his press conference to prove it.  His wife, in a rare display of politician’s wife honesty,was not present at the press conference. Good for her.  Read more about the tear stained admission here.

You should demand a refund

Atlanta’s Deputy Fire Chief, George Turner, was seen on television this week making the following comment about Atlanta’s 911 system, “When multiple people call about the same incident, it clogs the system…only thing I can tell you is we have the best system money can buy.”  He declined to comment on whether or not monopoly money was used to purchase the system. The Deputy was being interviewed in the wake of a fire that left a family’s home destroyed after several calls to 911 were placed on hold for as long as 10 minutes. Turner says that staffing and software issues led to the long hold times. What he didn’t say was that Atlanta’s 911 system has been plagued by bad management for years.

The most recent incident is being blamed, at least in part, on the ongoing transition to a new call center. But even before the transition, the system had its problems.  A year ago, the Silverman family lost their home to fire after their calls to 911 were placed on hold for several minutes.  And last year, a woman died after a 911 dispatcher sent EMS to the wrong address.   Allowing Turner to be the public voice of the failed system without first giving him a heads up that it’s probably  not a good idea to say out loud “when too many people call 911 the system gets clogged” was also a bad call.  It’s human nature to call 911 when witnessing an emergency, so to suggest that too many people called to report an incident almost sounds as though he’s blaming the callers. 

Defending a system that essentially crashes when 12 people call to report the same fire was also a serious misstep on the Deputy’s part.  The best system money can buy should be able to handle more than 12 calls at once.  To preface the statement with ” all I can tell you is…” is even more ridiculous.  Turner could have and should have said much more.  If he truly believes the system they currently have in place is the best money can buy, he should try to get a refund and fast.

Cronyism, Nepotism, Sexual Harassment – Just another day in government

femaFEMA, the agency that famously mismanaged Katrina under Michael Brown, is apparently (no surprise to the rest of us) plagued with management problems. 

FEMA’s interim director, Nancy Ward, was due back in the agency’s New Orleans office last Thursday to continue reviewing the allegations.   Employees  say the way the office is being managed is a disaster.  Ward’s visits began after a CBS Evening News report claimed that there were 30 complaints, in February alone, against Transitional Recovery Office chief of staff, Douglas Whitmer.  While the allegations are under investigation, Whitmer is on temporary assignment in Texas. To help assess the situation, FEMA created an on-line survey that can be completed confidentially by the New Orleans staff.  The larger story here is how the mismanagement is impacting the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts.  Nearly $4 billion of the $6 billion FEMA designated to rebuild after Katrina is still unspent, due in large part, many say, to the mismanagement in the New Orleans office.

Serious management issues are definitely not news to government workers.  Government agencies are notoriously plagued by bad management and low morale.  It would be great if these confidential surveys could be implemented throughout several government agencies and if when the results were released, real changes in management would actually take place.