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Paper-thin Trail

Sep
14
2005

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy
Walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud. – Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Golly. All people are thinking about are the hurricane victims. No one is thinking about poor Michael Brown who is now unemployed. It’s not the first time.

Stephen Jones, the lawyer who defended Timothy McVeigh, hired Mr. Brown fresh out of law school. Explaining his decision to let Mr. Brown go during a firm reorganization he said to a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times: “He did not develop the way we wanted. He was average.” If Mr. Brown had heard that it would have saddened him. After all, when he looked at the resume he’d created he could tell he was anything but average. It described lots of good things he’d done in his relatively short life.

As he was getting on an airplane to fly home from New Orleans to his wife and children he said he was anxious “to get back to D.C. to correct all the inaccuracies and lies.” He didn’t say what “inaccuracies and lies” he was thinking of although he was critical of journalists whom he accused of rushing to judgment about him. He might have been critical of his resume that seemed intent on embarrassing him. What’s more he probably can’t get out of his mind all the nice things the senators said about him during his confirmation hearing to become the deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The fact that they were inspired by his mischievous resume didn’t make them any less nice. And once they were on his resume, Mr. Brown himself understandably started to believe them. Here are two nice things that were said about him during the hearing.

Former Colorado Senator Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell said: “He is dedicated, tenacious, and he is exactly the type of individual who has given up probably a better lifestyle to be in public service and we certainly appreciate all of that.” Sen. Campbell was probably not aware that Mr. Brown had been asked to leave his position at the Arabian Horse Association. His dismissal from that post had nothing to do with disasters although according to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Mary Anne Grimmell, former association president, and Karl Hart, a former board member said a number of suits had been filed against the association and Mr. Brown during Mr. Brown’s tenure. None was successful and the organization agreed to pay for the defense of those suits. Nonetheless, Mr. Brown raised $50,000 for his own defense from friends and supporters and pocketed the money. When that was discovered he was asked to leave the organization and that’s when he joined FEMA. Not everyone would consider his experience a “better lifestyle” or the kind of disaster with which FEMA is expected to cope.

Senator Joe Lieberman said: “Mr. Brown, you have extensive management experience. For this job you will need it.” Mr. Brown had no management experience. His resume said he had been the Assistant City Manager in Edmund, Oklahoma. What it should have said was that Mr. Brown had been an assistant TO the city manager in which capacity he had no oversight over employees. According to reporters for Time magazine who investigated his background, Claudia Deakins who is public relations head for Edmond said: “The assistant is more like an intern.”

The resume said he was the “Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University.” The Time reporters learned that he was never on the faculty at that institution. The school did confirm he had been a student at that institution but not that he was the “Outstanding Political Science Senior” as his resume revised on September 8, 2005, stated.

In announcing his nomination the White House said Mr. Brown had been the “Executive Director of the Independent Electrical Contractors”, a trade group in Alexandria, Va. That was wrong, too, although it is unclear whether that was something he told the White House or that his resume mischievously said. According to Newsday, two officials from the organization said he’d never held that post but was executive director of a regional chapter in Oklahoma. That chapter’s director said Mr. Brown held that post for less than 6 weeks.

I’m sure Mr. Brown felt terrible that people suffered because of his ineptitude, a feeling that was almost certainly exacerbated because the whole world was aware of it. On top of that, to have everyone made aware of the fact that his resume was a fraud made him look dishonest as well as incompetent. There is nothing Mr. Brown can do about his incompetence and dishonesty. He can, however, get a new resume. He may even be able to get one off the Internet at no charge. He should do that before applying for another job.

Share  Posted by Christopher Brauchli at 4:46 PM | Permalink

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