Florida Division of Emergency Management

Dems mauling Maul’s disaster creds

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Democrats and other critics of Gov. Rick Scott are creating a storm over Wesley Maul, the governor’s pick to head up the Florida Division of Emergency Management with two months left in the hurricane season.

The Florida Democratic Party questioned Maul’s qualifications, who’s now the division’s chief of staff and will take over as interim head of state emergency ops from Bryan Koon on Sunday.

“We need an experienced leader at the helm of our emergency management operations, and no one would disagree that Wes Maul is totally inexperienced and unprepared for such an important role,” FDP spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a statement. “Rick Scott has a clear record of propping up unqualified political appointees, but this is unacceptable.”

American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a progressive “super PAC” that targets Republicans, also piled on, outlining the resumes of prior division leaders to highlight the contrast with Maul.

“Wesley Maul’s resume would only be impressive to Tallahassee lobbying firms,” American Bridge said in a memo released Thursday. “He has only one year of experience working at the Division of Emergency Management. He has no degrees or professional credentials in emergency management. Just four years ago, Maul was a mattress delivery associate while enrolled in law school. Following that, he was a travelling (sic) aide to Rick Scott, handling the governor’s personal calendar and making sure the governor stuck to his schedule.”

Here’s the snapshots of Maul’s predecessors, provided by American Bridge :

  • Koon (Division of Emergency Management Director from 2011 to present), previously served as director of emergency management for WalMart. He was also a watch commander for the White House Emergency Operations Center.
  • David Halstead (2010-2011), had been with the division since 1998, including the 2004 hurricane season when he was an emergency services branch chief.
  • Ruben Almaguer (2009-2010), was a deputy director at the division after having worked as a division chief for the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department.
  • Craig Fugate (2001-2009), had also been a deputy director for the division before being appointed to the top job by Gov. Jeb Bush. Fugate, a Democrat, had spent a decade as emergency manager for Alachua County.
  • Joe Myers (1993-2001), was director of emergency management in North Carolina for eight years prior to taking the job in Florida.

Maul, who joined DEM in May 2016, spent about three years in the governor’s office. His duties, according to Maul’s LinkedIn page, included running Scott’s daily schedule and coordinating travel.

Prior to going to work for Scott, and while earning his law degree at the University of Florida, Maul spent a year as a delivery associate at Mattress Town of Gainesville, which the LinkedIn page said increased “average daily delivery capability by 211% through improved inventory analysis, logistics, and sales operations.”

In a press release announcing Koon’s departure this week, Scott called Maul a “valued member” of his team since 2013.

“As Chief of Staff at DEM, Wes has worked countless hours helping lead our state through Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and now Irma,” Scott said in the release. “Since earning his law degree at the University of Florida, Wes has devoted his life to serving the families of our state and I am confident in his ability to lead DEM as Interim Director as we continue to recover from Hurricane Irma.”

By Jim Turner.

Scott to Floridians: Get a plan!

With powerful force taking form on Florida’s horizon, you just know a Navy baseball cap is at the ready.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has found a niche in the past year as Florida’s hurricane-defender-in-chief, wasted little time over the holiday weekend kicking into storm prep mode.

Scott, who’s mulling a bid for for the U.S. Senate, tweeted out a series of advisories Sunday and Monday as an ominously powerful hurricane called Irma plowed westward on a path across the Atlantic. Some projections put Florida on the edge of the “cone of death” by the week’s end.

“Families should take time today to make sure you have a disaster plan and fully-stocked Disaster Supply Kit,” Scott tweeted on Monday. “I am continuing to coordinate with emergency management officials as we monitor Hurricane Irma.”

While I’m not a weather expert, some readers may recall my profanity-laced appearance in the Capitol press skits several years ago, where I was joined by Craig Fugate. Fugate, a former Florida DEM chief who went on to head FEMA has had some interesting things to say recently about how to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, which left much of Texas in water-soaked tatters.

Scott added weather briefings with Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon to his daily calendar on Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, Scott repeatedly posted a link to the FDEM’s disaster prep page.

“FL knows how important it is to be prepared. Encourage your loved ones to have a plan ahead of any potential storm. floridadisaster.org/GetAPlan/” Scott tweeted Sunday.

By Jim Turner.