Monday, September 05, 2005

It's Your Fault! No, It's Your Fault!

Here's an opinion on who's to blame for NO failure. Agree?

As leadership goes, both the New Orleans Mayor and the Louisiana Governor get the Grade of F. They flunk. It saddens me to say it too. Goodness knows, the last thing I want to see is a woman (being one) live up to every stupid stereotype. BUT OY!

A leader does NOT point the finger and wait for a bail out. A leader does not dither because she fears her words or actions will anger someone. A leader does NOT ramble aimlessly about death, destruction and carnage, OH MY! When her people need her to roll up her sleaves, state a simple plan and get to work. DO SOMETHING, for heaven's sake, your people need you.

Blame FEMA. Blame lack of funding for the monument that is New Orleans. Blame President
Bush. Why not? But you have the bull horn. You have the bully pulpit. You have the relationship with your voters. You have the understanding of the mentality of those whom you serve. (If you don't, you have bigger problems.)

This whole thing reminds me of the school teachers versus the parents fight. "They're not teaching my kids!" "They're not parenting!" When the child is at home, parents rear that child. Teachers, when you have the child, teach. For Pete's sake, do the best you can do with what you have and quit bellyaching.

I live near Houston. We could get a huge Hurricane--it happened with Galveston once. We could have a refinery melt down. We could have the port bombed. Sheesh, lots of things could happen. The elected LOCAL officials better have a plan. They have a network of communications. They know the city's people. They know where the crime happens and who does it. FEMA could never know this--at least not right away.

Let's learn from the leadership failures. Leaders must have plans to succeed and plans for if the worst happens. That's why they get paid the big bucks and win lots of votes.

Disasters happen:

  1. Some people comply with directions. They will need information. Create websites and in press reports GET SPECIFIC. The first rule of public relations? In the absence of information, people will create their own. Tell them: this neighborhood is under water in this jurisdiction. Do not come back.
  2. Others won't. (I bet we could do a study to know exactly how much, but I'll rely on the old 80-20-- 20% do all the work, 20% cause all the drag.) There will be certain pockets of ignorance (no one likes to talk like this but those who govern know where they are)--make sure that law enforcement keeps the area secure FIRST. Then evacuate the widows, children and mothers first.
  3. Some people can't comply (old folks homes, hospitals, widows without families, orphans etc.). These people, the weakest and neediest MUST be taken care of by the authorities--we are nothing but animals if we don't care for them.
  4. In chaos, crime thrives. Criminals are predators and opportunistists--like sharks they wait 'til you're wounded and then strike. Expect this. It should never be a surprise. Have a system in place to deal with them. Shoot and kill two looters--two of the first--and it won't happen any more. The problem in New Orleans? 2/3 of the cops bailed. A chunk were bad. New Orleans has its reputation for a reason.
  5. Form a back-up communication system BEFORE the tragedy. Do the district representatives go to a certain location? Do the local police and fire-fighters have a rendez vous? There is a reason they are public servants--they stay and serve and protect. The governmental leaders should, too. Perhaps there could be district representatives--a political rep, a med rep, a law enforcement rep, a religious rep, etc. The Paul Reveres of the area to congregate and communicate and delegate. Politics are local? Ha! Crises are local. In NYC it was the fire chiefs who sent the trucks not Gulianni or Pataki or Bush.
  6. Form a distribution system BEFORE the tragedy. Run drills. No one expects to know how to deal with a house fire without training--how should gov't leaders be able to run through bigger drills?
  7. Communicate confidence. State clearly what you do know and don't know. Vague proclamations like "we expect thousands dead" tell us nothing. It is an unfounded supposition. Facts. Facts. Facts.
  8. Give direction. When tragedy strikes, democracy goes out the window. Dictatorship ensues. It must--until the stress passes. Here's the conversation: "What do you think? What do you think? What are the facts as we know them? Ok, here's what we're doing. You, do this. You, do this. I need this, this and this. Move!" Then, let the people do it. Delegate. If someone is sucking it up. Fire them. On the spot. Move on. Get someone who can do it.
  9. Re-assess. Some decisions will be wrong. This is what you say all you ninny-minded nincompoops, "I made this decision based on this information. I was wrong. My new information indicates that this is the best decision now and we are doing that." Boom. That's it.
  10. Get in there. Get a friggin walkie-talkie and go to the middle of the mess. Lead from the front. Strengthen and reassure.
More blogs about the woodlands rita.