« | »

Red Cross Sacks Its New Orleans Supervisors

Well, it’s about time.

Anybody who would even let the professional grifters of the Veterans For Peace within ten miles of their operations was clearly incompetent or worse.

From those champions of integrity at the New York Times:

Red Cross Fires Administrators in New Orleans

March 25, 2006

In a major shake-up of its relief operations in New Orleans, the American Red Cross dismissed two key supervisors yesterday as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the improper diversion of relief supplies after Hurricane Katrina, a Red Cross official said.

The supervisors — volunteers, as are 95 percent of Red Cross personnel — were in charge of the organization’s kitchens and shelters, which have assisted tens of thousands of the hurricane’s victims.

The move came a day after the interim president of the Red Cross said the organization was investigating accusations of impropriety, including possible criminal activity.

"We have relieved certain volunteers of their duties in connection with our investigation," said a senior Red Cross official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the actions.

Three volunteers currently working in the area identified one of the officials who was dismissed as Patrick Keena, the senior official responsible for the organization’s food and shelter operations in the disaster area. They said he was fired early yesterday.

The identity of the other dismissed supervisor could not be determined.

Mr. Keena, who has been affiliated with the Red Cross for 25 years, told volunteers in the disaster area that he was leaving because of a medical emergency.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Several volunteers who had served in the area complained over the last four months that Mr. Keena had ignored Red Cross rules, overridden efforts to establish procedures to keep track of relief supplies and interfered with internal investigations into the diversion of supplies.

Two volunteers assigned by Red Cross national headquarters last fall to look into those and other accusations of wrongdoing urged the removal of Mr. Keena and other senior managers in a report they filed with senior organization officials on Dec. 5.

A second supervisor, Jill Paul, who was in charge of the kitchens where meals were prepared for delivery to the needy, told volunteers yesterday that she had elected to leave the operation, several volunteers said. But it could not be determined if Ms. Paul was the second worker ordered out of the area.

She could not be reached for comment.

Teala Brewer, a former Secret Service agent who is the Red Cross’s director of ethics and compliance, was in New Orleans yesterday with volunteers who had pointed out problems.

One of the accusations they are investigating is that supervisors in charge of the kitchens have been ordering more food than is needed, raising questions about where the extra food is going.

In one case highlighted by the volunteers, Ms. Paul recommended sending 1,500 meals a day into the New Orleans neighborhood of Bywater because residents had only limited access to utilities, potable water and a small convenience store.

Eight days after she filed her recommendation, volunteers assigned to go street by street in Bywater to estimate the number of meals needed said they came up with an assessment of only 500 meals needed on the route every day.

"They found that not only did a great portion of the route have full utilities, they also had a major grocery store up and running and public transportation," said a volunteer who had seen their report but requested anonymity because she said she had been physically threatened by a supervisor. "Much of the area was back to pre-Katrina, and the rest of it was so bad that no one was living in it."

Volunteers delivering meals said investigators from national headquarters had been trailing them over the last week and interviewing people living along their routes.

The interim president of the Red Cross, John F. McGuire, acknowledged this week that the organization was investigating accusations that relief supplies had been improperly diverted and that procedures for tracking inventory had been ignored.

Initially, according to those raising such concerns, their warnings were ignored.

In fact, Jerome H. Nickerson Jr. and Michael A. Wolters, who wrote the report recommending that the supervisors in New Orleans be removed, said they were relieved of their responsibilities.

Mr. Nickerson, a Maryland lawyer, said his name disappeared from the Red Cross database of trained disaster volunteers, and Mr. Wolters, a security guard, said his local chapter was told that he was forbidden from entering disaster areas on orders of the Red Cross’s general counsel.

"When I first came out of New Orleans, I couldn’t sleep for about a month because I just couldn’t figure out why people weren’t moving on this," Mr. Nickerson said yesterday. "But now people are paying attention, and the people who were doing this bad stuff are being called to account."

According to Red Cross publications, Mr. Keena has assisted with disaster response for the last 12 of his 25 years as a volunteer, working at 26 major disasters. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported last year that Mr. Keena, whose wife is in the Air Force, worked at the Double Eagle Casino in Cripple Creek, Colo.

The Gazette said Mr. Keena volunteered at the local Pikes Peak Chapter of the Red Cross, but Paul Koch, the financial director there, said yesterday that he did not know Mr. Keena.

Mr. Keena was on an elite team of paid Red Cross volunteers, known as temporary disaster reserves, who have extensive experience in disaster relief work. They are called out at the onset of an emergency and paid because they are needed for an extended period.

This criminal investigation will surely reach down the the receivers of the pilfered supplies.

Which reminds me, anybody heard from Malik Rahim or Andrea Garland lately?

Hey, Gordo, old buddy. Gotten any calls yet?

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, March 25th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Red Cross Sacks Its New Orleans Supervisors”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »