La. Sen. Landrieu Demands FEMA Resignation

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, to announce the results of an investigation into the federal housing response following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu called for the resignation Thursday of Doug Whitmer, FEMA chief of staff of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office in New Orleans, following a CBS News investigation that detailed cronyism, sexual harassment and racial discrimination in their New Orleans office.

CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reported Wednesday that more than 30 complaints had been filed by employees against Whitmer in the last year, creating an environment of constant delays on rebuilding projects in the area following Hurricane Katrina.

"It was very disturbing to see the CBS story about the dysfunction at the New Orleans FEMA recovery office," said Sen. Landrieu, D-La. "The people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are shocked to hear that our recovery has been slowed by the toxic environment created by the office's management."

Landrieu said she expected Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano do complete a comprehensive review of FEMA leadership, and fire incompetent employees.

"There was not one, not a dozen, but 30 complaints against one employee," Landrieu said. "The clean-up process should begin with the resignation of Doug Whitmer."

CBS News reported that nearly $4 billion intended to rebuild the Gulf Coast remain unspent. That's 68 percent of the $6 billion promised by FEMA.

This is leaving hundreds of projects, like a police station in New Orleans, and the Charity Hospital, waiting.

Three senior level staff people in the New Orleans office, which is responsible for distributing FEMA money, spoke with CBS News on the condition on anonymity.

"The harassment, the equal rights - violations that are currently taking place over there, this office is slowing down the recovery in this region." said one former FEMA employee.
  • Gina Pace

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