By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
When the next natural disaster strikes, who are you going to call? Well, it better not be the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says Ohio's disaster chief, Nancy Dragani. Sounding a lot like Michael Brown, the former Bush-era FEMA director who was run out of town after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Dragani, who also heads the National Emergency Management Association, wants you to first look in the mirror.
Says Dragani: "We've got to begin to remind ourselves as a people of personal accountability. It's my responsibility, to the best of my ability, to take care of myself, my family, my dog, my cats, my mom who lives down the street, and the lady that lives next door. I believe that's my responsibility. I believe it's your responsibility."
In little-covered comments at a Heritage Foundation meeting this week, Dragani, an adviser to FEMA, former Ohio National Guard official, and aide to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, charged that the public has traded personal responsibility for personal expectations from the feds.
"I have seen a shift from personal responsibility to personal expectation, from when the hurricane winds begin to blow, clean out your bathtub and fill it with water so you have drinking water to when the hurricane threatens and the winds begin to blow, find out where FEMA's going to deliver ice, food, and water. And we can't survive that," she told Heritage. The think tank put a video of the speech on its site.
"We've become a culture of entitlement," she said. "Within hours of an event, the question is where's FEMA, where's my check, where's my water, food, and ice."
For Brown, who touted the address and a Congressional Quarterly article about it on his Web site, the speech sounded like a vindication of sorts. He wrote, "My hat is off to Nancy for saying those things that I said during my tenure, but which was drowned out by the press and the critics of me and President Bush. Unfortunately, the solution to this problem lies in political leadership. I don't see that anywhere in the near future."
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