The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Mahaney: Oh the memories!

Right here, you can see the straight news story on Rich Mahaney’s immanent departure from the Linn County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

“Personal reasons” don’t count as a reason for anything, so if anyone wants to chime in here, feel free. Anyone have any idea why he’s leaving?

Now, his exit is slightly mysterious, but it’s probably not worth much scrutiny, and I’m going to focus on what really matters: the good old days.

I’ll remember two encounters with Mahaney for a long time. Both were during the flood.

1. I walk into the Emergency Operations Center with Mike Goldberg, the Linn County administrative services director.

It was just after one of the flood briefings, and we walk into the nerve center of the building, a room full of people wearing important-looking polo shirts and typing on laptops. I sit down with Linn County Supervisor Lu Barron and a guy who works on electronic maps for the county. Goldberg disappears into some side office.

Before I know it, Mahaney (always a good friend to reporters) is on me like a St. Bernard chasing a rabbit (he’s a big guy, I’m small).

“You from the Gazette?” he demands, charging toward me. “Out! Right now. Out!”

In our country’s era of “homeland security” and “emergency management” ascendance, Mahaney’s position during the flood made him an unquestioned authority.

I simply had to leave, so after muttering my protest to Barron, I picked up my notebook and left, a banished, chastised member of the media. I was a little sore about it.

2. During the height of the flood, FEMA director David Paulison and Mahaney were standing next to each other. Culver asked a question about emergency management, and Paulison and Mahaney traded several false starts toward the podium. Finally Mahaney made it up there, where something remarkable happened.

Culver placed his hand on Mahaney’s chest, pushed him back toward his spot and said he thought we should hear from the national FEMA director.

Filed under: County Government, Flood, , ,

2 Responses

  1. Doug says:

    I can understand why media isn’t allowed in the “nerve center.” If I’m correct, the point of the PIO and their briefings are to allow the media access to what they need, and not necessarily what they want in times of critical decision-making. Sounds like the county guy made a mistake in leading you in in the first place.

    I didn’t know about the Culver “chest bump”, but it sounds hilarious. EMA’s are tough organizations in the first place, especially in more urban counties, so I don’t envy their appointed leaders.

  2. Ed Farley says:

    I have known Mike Goldburg for years and he is a sharp individual. There is no dought that Mike wantted to make sure that the media was envolved in the process and being used to convey the right message to the public. You guys can be friends or foes but I think that it is up to us in emergency management to figure out which one we want you to be.

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