Meeting Minutes: June 12, 2007
Regional Advisory Council DHS/FEMA Region VIII, Denver CO
Bob Flowers convened the first meeting of the Regional Advisory Council for Region VIII on June 12, 2007, at the Denver Sheraton West, 360 Union Blvd., in Lakewood CO. Council members met informally for dinner at 6 p.m., followed by a Council meeting in the hotel's Jefferson Boardroom from 7:45 to 9:40 p.m.
Current Council Members
Bob Flowers - Administrator, DHS/FEMA Region VIII
Neil Ashdown - UT Governor's Chief of Staff *
Chris Burbank - Police Chief, Salt Lake City UT
Mike Kuehn - Director, UT Div. of Homeland Security
Dan McGowan - Administrator, MT Disaster & Emergency Services Div.*
Joe Moore - Director, WY Office of Homeland Security *
Pete Red Tomahawk - Transportation Director, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (ND/SD)
Kristi Turman - Director, SD Office of Emergency Management *
Stephanie Villafuerte - CO Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff *
Greg Wilz - Director, ND Dept. of Emergency Services
Other Meeting Attendees
Doug Gore, Deputy Administrator, DHS/FEMA Region VIII
Larry Majerus, Deputy Director, WY Office of Homeland Security (representing Joe Moore)
Donovan Puffer, DHS/FEMA Region VIII, designated Federal support officer for the Council
* Members were not present at Council meeting due to scheduling conflicts, but will be back-briefed in person or by telephone after the meeting.
This Council meeting was held concurrently with the regularly scheduled quarterly Regional Interagency Steering Committee (RISC) meeting, June 12-13 in the Regional Office, thus many of the Council members attended the two-day RISC meeting as well. (State emergency management directors serve as members of the RVIII RISC Executive Committee, in addition to serving as Council members.)
At 7:45 p.m., Bob Flowers called the meeting to order and thanked the attendees for agreeing to serve as members of the Regional Advisory Council. He described the origins of the Regional Advisory Councils in the Post-Katrina legislation, and reiterated the importance of the Region VIII Council's advice not only to himself, but also to FEMA Administrator David Paulison.
At 7:55 p.m., FEMA attorney Paul Conrad joined the meeting via teleconference and delivered a 10-minute ethics briefing, tailored to the audience of non-Federal government executives serving in a Federal advisory capacity. The topics he covered included potential conflicts of interest; undue benefits; financial interests, including contracts; interests of family members and other organizations; proper reference to RAC affiliation in public speaking or similar events; and Hatch Act considerations. Mr. Conrad offered his contact information if any Council members needed additional information or wanted to follow up on points in the briefing.
At 8:05 p.m., Bob Flowers gave Council members a 10-minute overview of new FEMA initiatives, including the Regional Advisory Councils. He discussed the Council as part of an ongoing effort by DHS and FEMA to identify and stay connected to practitioners in the field, in the jurisdictions we serve, and in the areas of expertise common to our work. He described the Council as a sounding board and source of advice to him and to the Region, and he reiterated the ethical considerations covered by Mr. Conrad. Bob Flowers mentioned some of the issues he would like to begin dealing with immediately, including:
The Council's work, and what value its members would like to add and gain
The right size and composition of the Council for working effectively
Advice from current Council members on subsequent nominees
Issues related to travel costs for Council members
Intra-Regional collaboration in preparedness, including training, exercises, and funding
Potential discussions of critical infrastructure in the Region.
At 8:15 p.m., attendees introduced themselves and offered brief remarks on their background, experience, and interests in the Council.
At 8:40 p.m., Council members discussed areas of future direction or work by the Council. The topics included collaboration on preparedness efforts, training, exercises, plans and procedures, pre-declaration support, and declaration request processing. Bob Flowers also discussed his approach to Regional outreach, including the prospect of having Region VIII continue and expand its efforts to be an involved partner in State meetings and other events. He discussed his interest in not only bringing the Council together twice yearly, but also in traveling to the Council members' locales on a regular basis to talk with them or to participate in meetings in the members' jurisdictions.
From 8:50 to 9:15 p.m., attendees addressed the question of what constitutes the "right size" for the Region VIII Advisory Council to work effectively. Bob Flowers asked Donovan Puffer to summarize the guidance contained in the post-Katrina legislation and in the draft charter for the Councils. Then attendees raised and discussed several issues related to Council composition and function.
Chris Burbank raised the issue of whether the Council would be expected to cast votes, and how that might affect size/composition. After discussion, Greg Wilz and Bob Flowers summarized the conclusions that the Council is advisory in nature; it should use group processes to attempt to offer the Regional Administrator advice representing a consensus opinion of Council members; and when consensus is not achievable, minority opinions are valuable and should be represented as well.
In response to a question, Pete Red Tomahawk offered opinions drawn from his experiences regarding how best to engage tribal representatives in advisory committee work.
On the subject of identifying an ideal Council size to promote group effectiveness, Larry Majerus offered the opinion, agreed to by other members present, that smaller was better. He suggested that, at most, the Council may want to grow incrementally to half (18) the total number of seats authorized by the draft charter (36).
Greg Wilz offered an opinion, endorsed by other Council members present, about the importance of having local emergency managers represented on the Council. He also reiterated the importance of representation by fire and emergency medical services personnel. In response to his points, Council members discussed potential nominees from their jurisdictions. After discussion, the consensus was that 3 individuals already nominated either by their State for RVIII Council service or self-nominated for the National Advisory Council should be contacted by Bob Flowers for further consideration: Richard Klouda (Fremont County WY emergency manager); Bruce Hoover (Fargo ND fire chief); and Dr. Gregory Burcham (Denver emergency-room physician and medical team leader, Colorado Urban Search and Rescue Task Force). Bob Flowers agreed to call these individuals. At Bob Flowers' request, Pete Red Tomahawk agreed to identify other tribal representatives who may be well suited for and interested in serving on the Council.
From 9:20 to 9:40 p.m., Bob Flowers led a discussion of how Council members would recommend enhancing the effectiveness of the RISC meetings.
Before adjourning the meeting at 9:40 p.m., Bob Flowers presented the members with certificates appointing them to the Region VIII Council, and thanked them for agreeing to serve.
Handouts Distributed at Meeting
RAC charter, final draft version 4/23/07 from FEMA HQ-Regional Ops
Document titled "Positions to Fill on RVIII RAC," version 6/11/07
RVIII RAC Certificates of Appointment, to members present