If I ran the zoo that is the Gulf oil disaster response, I’d have put Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré in charge. I’d have done it back on April 29, when I first said this spill was going to be far worse than the Exxon Valdez.
No doubt you’ll remember Honoré as the U.S. Army general with the Creole accent who headed the military response to Hurricane Katrina. He had the bearing and the attitude of a general; you just knew this man was going to get things done.
Unfortunately for his native Louisiana that so desperately needs him again, he retired in 2008. He’s writing though, and still pulling no punches:
The No. 1 rule when dealing with disaster is to figure out which rules you need to break.
He was needed when Gov. Jindal and the people of southern Louisiana tried frantically for two weeks to get permission from the U.S. government to begin dredging operations and the building of sand berms to keep the oil out of their marshlands. I’ll bet the general would have ordered those dredges and bulldozers into operation immediately and worried about the paperwork later. It’s a cinch the oil wasn’t waiting for permission to keep moving. Geez, people, when a house is on fire, you don’t stand there arguing about who’s going to call the fire department. You dial 9-1-1!
The general also wrote, and said in an interview as he walked the New Orleans riverfront with a reporter:
The latest curse going around in southern Louisiana today is, ‘BP you.’
I wish he hadn’t retired. I wish I ran the zoo.
3 thoughts on “If I ran the zoo”
I’ve never been a general, but the general and I have one thing in common – we are both retired government administrators with over 30 years in those jobs. From what he’s written and said, I believe he’s learned three of the most valuable lessons a successful government employee can know…
1 Know the rules and know which rules to break
2 Ask for forgiveness, not for permission
3 Delegate both responsibility AND the authority to meet it to the experts most likely to achieve your goals.
What a great idea.
Adm. Thad Allen is the military man in charge this time, and he seems to spout only cliches and the company line, as if he has no ideas of his own. He usually sounds clueless. I can’t imagine, for example, that the federal government knows more about the dredging and sand berm operations, or cares more about their environmental impact in Louisiana, than the people who live there. Break the damn rules and build the damn berms!