1. #1
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    Question Metro Dade Fla--Fighting Terror or each other?

    Miami Herald

    Posted on Tue, Mar. 25, 2003

    E-mails tell of how an agency failed
    BY KARL ROSS
    kross@herald.com

    A year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Miami-Dade's top emergency manager asserted in an e-mail to his superiors that his effort to build a homeland security office had failed -- undermined not by outside threats, but by the more familiar enemies of ``politics, ego and turf.''

    Chuck Lanza, then the county emergency management director, wrote on Oct. 1, 2002, that he was ''disheartened'' that senior county officials reassigned three key employees who had been the backbone of the county's fledging Homeland Security Division.

    ''On the other hand,'' Lanza said in an e-mail to the county manager's office, ``we have been dealing with politics, ego and turf ever since we proposed the division, and being free of that has its benefits.''

    Several key anti-terror initiatives were discontinued as a result of the staffing decision, emergency response officials say.

    The e-mail was one of many obtained by The Herald that underscored Lanza's frustration with county decision-makers and foreshadowed his removal last week as director of the county's Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

    Last Tuesday, Lanza clashed with County Manager Steve Shiver during a closed-door meeting at which the county's ability to react to a major terror strike was debated. Lanza said he would have to resign his post to speak candidly.

    Shiver declined Monday to discuss the issues raised by Lanza's e-mails. Miami--Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez, however, disputed Lanza's assertion that infighting sabotaged his efforts.

    ''If there's a turf war, it's his turf war -- not mine,'' Alvarez said.

    `POLICY MATTER'

    Alvarez said he didn't care who ran the county's homeland security apparatus, calling it a ''policy matter'' for Shiver and the County Commission to determine.

    He was adamant, though, that sensitive police intelligence should not be shared with civilian officials -- unless a crisis were imminent.

    ''Are we going to act on it? Of course we are,'' he said. ``But it's not a matter of turf, it's a matter of common sense.''

    In May 2002, county officials announced the creation of a Homeland Security Division that would operate as part of OEM with Lanza, a career firefighter, at the helm. Half of the initial six-member staff came from Lanza's own Fire-Rescue Department; the other half from the county police.

    Support for the arrangement began to erode almost immediately as police officials lobbied Shiver and eventually persuaded him that intelligence matters were better left to those with a law enforcement background.

    As a result of the infighting, the homeland security office was inactive for nearly six months -- from the time Lanza lost his staff until earlier this month when a full-time director, former police officer Joseph Piñón, was named.

    Alvarez disputes Lanza's claims, voiced at the meeting with Shiver, that the county is unprepared to deal with a terrorist attack. He said recently that police and other county anti-terrorism forces are ``beyond ready.''

    Shiver, who eventually accepted Lanza's resignation, maintains the county is primed for any threat as U.S.-led forces continue their assault on Iraq. He dismissed Lanza's outburst at the meeting as a ``breakdown.''

    However, other officials, like County Commissioner Jimmy Morales, are more concerned about Lanza's departure. In a memo to Mayor Alex Penelas and Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler, Morales said he was ''intensely alarmed'' and called for an emergency meeting this week.

    Late Monday, Carey-Shuler denied his request, citing ''the sensitive nature and confidentiality of our homeland security measures.'' Morales loudly took issue with her decision.

    ''There is no dress rehearsal for homeland security,'' Morales said. ``We don't get a second chance like we did for the [Sept. 10] election. If in fact there is a problem and we as commissioners can't discuss it collectively, then how can we fix it?''

    Broward County, by comparison, has no single entity in charge of homeland security. Law enforcement officials there say their role is to prevent terror attacks, while emergency officials handle what to do in the aftermath of such a calamity.

    Miami-Dade's umbrella division, as initially proposed, would have combined both law enforcement and emergency response functions.

    Lanza declined to comment for this story, but e-mails and internal memos outline his concerns. They assert that:

    • Miami-Dade police assigned to the Homeland Security Division challenged the authority of Lanza's staff, ''took extended lunches'' and refused to carry out assignments.

    • Shiver failed to give Lanza the support he needed to launch the division and allowed ''lingering doubt'' about its possible restructuring to fester for months.

    • Police refused to share intelligence about possible terrorist threats ''in real time,'' making it impossible for Lanza to alert emergency workers and those in charge of critical infrastructure.

    • Shiver was aware that staffing cuts undermined homeland security efforts and could lead to the dismantling of key programs, but failed to intervene.

    County officials justified the decision to cut Lanza's staffing last October as a budgetary move, citing excessive overtime costs to replace the three staffers on loan from the Fire-Rescue Department.

    PLANS DROPPED

    As a consequence, programs to train hospital workers, civilian volunteers and emergency dispatchers to respond to a terrorist threat were discontinued.

    Fire-Rescue Capt. Robert Palestrant said he and his homeland security co-workers were transfered on a single day's notice.

    ''We were pulled out so fast that no one could believe what was happening,'' Palestrant said. ``Chuck wanted to have a meeting with the manager, but before we knew it, we were back on our normal shifts.''

    Palestrant, who headed the county's Community Emergency Response Team, said the highly acclaimed program was discontinued as a result of the staffing changes.

    Herald staff writer Daniel DeVise contributed to this report.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    Post Follow up story the following day...Can't we all just get along?

    Miami Herald

    Shiver comes under attack
    Sorenson wants him fired over Lanza incident
    BY KARL ROSS
    kross@herald.com

    A Miami-Dade County commissioner on Tuesday called for the firing of County Manager Steve Shiver, infuriated by allegations that he tried to bully the county's top emergency manager into lying to her -- a charge that Shiver strongly denied.

    Commission Vice Chairwoman Katy Sorenson blamed Shiver for the resignation of Chuck Lanza last week as the county's director of emergency management. Lanza says Shiver told him before a March 18 closed-door meeting with Sorenson to muzzle any criticisms that he might have about the county's security plans.

    ''The manager has a pattern of lies, deception, and clearly he can't manage,'' Sorenson said. ``This issue of homeland security should have been addressed months ago, and instead of that, what we've seen is turf battles.''

    In a meeting Tuesday with The Herald editorial board, Shiver said it was Lanza, not he, who was lying to the media about their March 18 encounter in the lobby of County Hall.

    ''I did not tell Chuck Lanza to lie to the commissioner. I told him that we need to, as an organization, discuss his [homeland security] proposal,'' Shiver said.

    'What I told them was, `You [Lanza and other agency heads] need to get your [expletive] together before you make any generalizations that this county is not prepared.' ''

    Shiver said Sam Williams, his assistant county manager overseeing homeland security, witnessed the exchange. Williams backs Shiver's description, but Lanza contends Williams joined them only after Shiver told him to mislead elected officials.

    At the editorial meeting, Shiver -- flanked by his top public safety advisors, including Police Director Carlos Alvarez and Fire-Rescue Chief Charles Phillips -- reiterated his position the county is fully prepared.

    ''There's been a lot of misinformation in the past couple of days about our homeland security,'' Shiver said. ``This unfortunate incident [with Lanza] has taken on a life of its own.''

    County officials cast Lanza's objections as ''academic,'' noting his concern about the lack of a written plan detailing how county and municipal emergency workers would coordinate their response to a terrorist strike.

    ''We didn't need any plan for the ValuJet crash, the Fine Air crash or any other disaster,'' Williams said. ``I was a police officer for 30-plus years, and we have been able to respond to every critical incident. We would view a terrorist attack as another critical incident.''

    PRACTICE DRILLS

    Phillips noted that police and fire departments from throughout the county have held three practice emergency drills since the 9/11 terror attacks and plan a fourth next month, as well as a regional drill in May.

    ''We're better prepared than any fire department in this country,'' Phillips said.

    Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, responding to a clamor of media inquiries, held an impromptu news conference Tuesday in an attempt to restore calm at a time when the country is on a heightened state of alert against potential terrorist attacks.

    Penelas said now was not the time to discuss ''personnel issues'' and lamented the controversy was ''tainting the good works of so many public safety professionals'' in protecting county residents.

    Penelas said he wants to speak with Sorenson privately before making up his mind whether to act on her request about Shiver.

    County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler said she needed ''to get the facts'' before weighing in on the call for Shiver's firing. She said she would put it on the agenda for discussion at the April 9 commission meeting.

    Shiver dismissed Sorenson's remarks as the latest salvo in a long-running political feud between the two officials. He said he had spoken to each of the 12 other county commissioners individually and believes he has their unqualified support.

    `AGAINST ME'

    ''She's been against me from the very first day,'' Shiver said of Sorenson. ``But I will continue to serve her and her constituents and her district.''

    Commissioner Joe Martínez, who chairs the county's public-safety committee, said his confidence in Shiver's management has not been shaken by the Lanza controversy. But he did not say his support was unconditional.

    ''If he told Chuck Lanza to lie, then, yes, he should be fired. However, if Lanza is lying, then his position should be considered,'' he said.

    Shiver accepted Lanza's verbal resignation as emergency director last Thursday, but Lanza was allowed to stay on with the county's Fire-Rescue Department, where he is a 25-year veteran, in another capacity.

    Lanza's departure has also sparked a dispute between the county's police and firefighters.

    The county's most powerful police union, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, on Tuesday criticized Lanza -- saying his ''comments are irresponsible and compromise public safety'' in a letter signed by union president John Rivera.

    But the main firefighters union, Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, met Tuesday evening to rally behind Lanza -- a meeting attended by Shiver.

    Said Carlos Garcia, 33, a firefighter from Palm Springs North Station: ``Chuck Lanza is a very, very honest stand-up guy, who's being punished for being truthful. . . . If he's the guy in charge of [the Emergency Operations Center] and he's saying we're not prepared, then I agree with him.''

    Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Nice to see the good ol' Florida news again!
    IACOJ Agitator
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

  4. #4
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    Post Letters to the Editor

    Miami Herald

    Letters to the Editor

    ---------------------------

    Posted on Thu, Mar. 27, 2003

    Support for county emergency's ex-director

    As one of the earliest casualties of County Manager Steve Shiver's administration, I feel particularly empathetic with Chuck Lanza and his alleged mistreatment at the hands of Shiver and his chief of staff, Tom David.

    I left as director of Team Metro after 23 years of service to the county once I realized that Shiver and company don't play fair or honestly.

    Since my departure nearly two years ago, a number of career professionals also have left the county. They were dedicated, hard-working, bright and committed individuals who had the interests of our community at heart. Just like Lanza.

    Thank you, Chuck, for speaking out and telling what really happened to spark your departure as the emergency manager for Miami-Dade County.

    DEBORAH CURTIN

    Coconut Grove



    Re Jim DeFede's March 25 column 911 chief shares his 411: The voters of Miami-Dade County had better look into what is going on at county hall. To lose a man like Lanza as county emergency-management director is bad enough, but to keep others who allegedly would have him lie to a commissioner regarding the county's readiness for a terrorist attack is just plain stupid.

    JANET COCHRANE

    Fort Lauderdale

    Shiver has struck again.

    Having failed to rout one honest county employee, Miami International Airport Director Angela Gittens, the county manager has destroyed the career of another decent person, Chuck Lanza.

    MICHAEL HASSALL

    Miami



    It should be about public safety, but to Shiver and Mayor Alex Penelas, it's about politics as usual. Homeland security is a critical issue for the county. Instead, officials are gambling with the public's best interests.

    MARK WOLOSZ

    Miami
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  5. #5
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    Default Follow Up

    Ex-crisis boss taking new job
    Lanza not disclosing specifics
    By KARL ROSS
    kross@herald.com

    Six weeks after a falling out with his superiors, Miami-Dade's former director of emergency management, Chuck Lanza, resigned from county service Monday to take a job with another South Florida government.

    ''I'm happy about it. I think it vindicates my experience and expertise,'' said Lanza, who stepped down as the county's top crisis manager last month after an angry confrontation with County Manager Steve Shiver but kept a management position in the county fire department.

    During a March 18 closed-door briefing, Lanza challenged assertions by Shiver and other public-safety officials that the county's homeland security preparations were optimal. The exchange cost him his job, prompting an outcry from the public, fire-union leaders and rank-and-file firefighters.

    ''Chuck was a great asset to the county, and it's a shame that we lost him,'' said County Commissioner Katy Sorenson. ``I hope he has a job with tremendous responsibility in a place where integrity matters.''

    Sorenson made an unsuccessful bid to have Shiver fired after Lanza alleged that Shiver told him to mislead her about the county's ability to respond to a major terrorist attack. Shiver denied the allegation and accused Lanza of lying.

    On Monday, Shiver praised Lanza and wished him luck.

    ALL THE BEST

    ''I wish him the best,'' Shiver said. ``I'm sure he will do very well in his endeavors.'

    A 25-year veteran firefighter, Lanza spent the past seven years as director of the county's Office of Emergency Management. Earlier this year he was recognized by his peers as the state's top emergency management professional.

    Lanza said he had an offer for a comparable position with a nearby county but would not say which one. He said his responsibilities would cover emergency management and homeland security preparations.

    ''I'm looking to contribute to this community, and the situation with homeland security took away my ability to do that here,'' Lanza said.

    Lanza said he would be able to commute to his new posting from his home in Davie. He would not comment on a rumor that he would be working for the Broward Sheriff's Office.

    Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne leads the state's local Domestic Security Task Force, which is responsible for promoting homeland security in the region. Lanza has worked closely with that task force.

    A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, Cheryl Stopnick, said Lanza has not received a ''formal offer'' from the agency.

    ''The sheriff thinks extremely highly of Chuck,'' she said. ```Chuck's done a great job on the Domestic Security Task Force.''

    $140,000 A YEAR

    Lanza, who earns roughly $140,000 a year, said he turned in a letter of resignation Monday morning to Fire Chief Charles Phillips.

    After his confrontation with Shiver, Lanza remained with the Fire-Rescue Department as chief for supportive services, a position overseeing emergency management, training and communications.

    Lanza said he expected his new employment to become official by next week.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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