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As we noted, EPA “policy advisor” John Beale told his bosses he really worked for the CIA and shirked his duties for a decade. During this time, EPA bosses never fired Mr. Beale but they did pay him generous retention bonuses. EPA boss Gina McCarthy presided over the massive toxic spill on Colorado’s Animas River but safely retained her job. Lois Lerner deployed the IRS to target advocates of lower taxes and accountable government but she was not fired. IRS boss John Koskinen covered up the scandal, but he wasn’t fired either. The firing of lower-level government workers is likewise rare, but one exception recently came to light.
On January 13, a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee triggered a false alert for an incoming nuclear missile. For the best description of how this happened, see Anthony Pignataro in Mauitime, wondering if Hawaii would survive the “Age of Stupid.” The false alert was a government snafu on a massive scale. Likewise, Pignataro’s report several hours after the false alert confirms that “huge numbers of people–residents and tourists–were terrified.” They didn’t know what was happening or who might be responsible.
As CNN reports, the government employee who triggered the alert “had a history of confusing drill and real-world events.” That serious disconnect led nobody to judge this person unsuitable for the job. After triggering the alert, the employee “seemed confused, he froze and another employee had to take over his responsibilities.” This employee refused to speak with FCC investigators and instead submitted a written account. By the end of January, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency had fired this employee but did not reveal his identity or what kind of benefits he may have retained. The no-fire zone had been violated but the government employee still enjoyed special protection. When it comes to protecting the public, on the other hand, Hawaiians know their government can be real stupid.