Saturday, September 10, 2005

Homeland Nepotism


Turns out our local FEMA fuehrer is no more qualified than Michael Brown.

    John Pennington, the official in charge of federal disaster response in the Northwest, was a four-term Republican state representative who ran a mom-and-pop coffee company in Cowlitz County when then-Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn helped him get his federal post.

    Before he was appointed regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Pennington got a degree from a correspondence school that government investigators later described as a "diploma mill..."

    Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Bush appointed Pennington to head the Region 10 office of FEMA, overseeing the government's disaster response in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. He makes $138,000 a year.

    Just before his appointment, Pennington received a bachelor's degree in business administration from California Coast University in Santa Ana, Calif., which at the time was an unaccredited correspondence school...

    The school is now accredited.

    In testimony before Congress last year, investigators for the General Accounting Office identified California Coast as a diploma mill.

    The investigators were looking into California Coast and two other unaccredited schools that got $169,000 in taxpayer money to pay the tuition of 463 federal employees who enrolled as students.

    That investigation did not involve Pennington, who received his degree before his FEMA appointment and paid for it himself. But GAO special agent Paul DeSaulniers told The Seattle Times this week that his investigation showed that California Coast University sold degrees for a flat fee.

    California Coast obtained its federally recognized accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council only this past January, according to council Assistant Director Sally Welch.

    "It was a pretty questionable school for a lot of years," she said. "They had to make a lot of changes."

(via Atrios)

UPDATE 9/11 More scandal and gossip about our Region 10 FEMA Director.

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