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Be Careful Who You Associate With

It is what your parents told you about "guilt by association."

Maybe your parents told you or perhaps you told your own kids: "Be careful who you hang out with. You can get a reputation just by associating with these people."

This, unfortunately, has happened to Brock Long, former FEMA administrator. The other day I read an article about the Trump administration's staff who got in trouble for different actions, some criminal and some for abusing government resources. There I saw Brock's name on the list of officials who had resigned. 

Here's the deal. Brock was perhaps the most effective FEMA administrator we've ever had. Note that there is some competition. He came in as a breath of fresh air. He appreciated other people, and he had a vision for the agency and for emergency management. FEMA staff responded to his leadership. I've blogged before on what led to his demise, but let's call it an error in judgement on his part. An honest mistake, I think.

Thus forever and ever, his name will be associated with those who came in and just plain abused the authorities or perks of the office. There will be people and organizations that pillory him forever just for being associated with this administration. He is lumped in with the rest of the crowd — for those who don't know him and his character, energy and the knowledge he brought to the position of FEMA administrator. 

As far as I can tell, Peter Gaynor, Brock's deputy and now FEMA administrator, is carrying on Brock's legacy in what he was trying to accomplish. 

The lesson, then, is this, what your parents said way back when: "Be careful who you associate yourself with, because you will be lumped in with the rest of the bunch." You can also end up stretching the limits of your integrity.

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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