Emergency Officials, Lawmakers Frustrated by ADEM Director's Resignation

JUNE 30, 2006 - Posted at 7:35 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The resignation of the state emergency director John Brackin, the agency's third director to depart in as many years, is being called frustrating by some local disaster managers.

Brackin resigned as head of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and apologized to Governor Huckabee after a newspaper reported that the department gave itself failing grades for its preparedness for a large-scale disaster.  Brackin said in his resignation letter to Huckabee that he felt he no longer had the governor's support or confidence.

Brackin's resignation came as a surprise to local emergency officials and lawmakers.  Clark County Emergency Manager Jim Burns said yesterday that the agency was beginning to rebuild a rocky relationship with county judges and local officials.  Burns said the instability at the top hurts the agency's credibility with the public.

Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Brackin left on his own, but Burns and other emergency officials said the timing of his resignation left some questions.  In his letter to Huckabee, Brackin said he believed the agency had made great progress in preparing for a catastrophic event, but there was still an enormous amount of work to be done.  He said in his letter, "If I have failed to adequately communicate with you, then I apologize for not keeping you more informed."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)