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Date of Issue: September 22, 2005

FEMA investigates Anna Maria's McDonald

Is Dan McDonald a real person who works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a figment of someone's imagination, a resident of the Bermuda Triangle, or perhaps an impostor? FEMA representatives in Fort Myers would like to know.

A Dan MacDonald who showed up in Anna Maria Sept. 8, 2004, gave some really bad advice to Mayor SueLynn.

That Dan McDonald claimed he was from FEMA and advised SueLynn and representatives of Waste Management Inc. that a contract between the two entities for removal of debris caused by Hurricane Charley was OK with FEMA and that the agency would reimburse the city for removal costs. WMI had asked FEMA to send a representative to meet with it and the city to review the contract. (The Islander, Aug. 10).

When the city submitted the bills to FEMA for reimbursement, SueLynn was informed that the contract did not meet FEMA compaction rates for trash and the city would only get partial reimbursement. Oops!

Foul, cried the mayor.

Dan McDonald of your office said the contract met FEMA standards. Sorry, replied FEMA, but the Dan McDonald who met with you was not the Dan McDonald who works for FEMA. Our Dan McDonald is short, fat and bald, while your Dan McDonald was tall, slim and had wavy hair.

The matter might have ended there but SueLynn and WMI manager Dave Smith were determined to get some answers. And a little political pressure never hurt getting government agencies to swing into action.

 Following inquiries to FEMA from U.S. Representative Katherine Harris and State Rep. Bill Galvano by way of the mayor and WMI, FEMA announced it has begun its own "internal investigation" into exactly who showed up in Anna Maria Sept. 8, 2004.

That was good news for Smith and SueLynn.

"FEMA hopes to have an answer shortly," said Smith. "We believe the person who came here was not Dan McDonald, but someone who does sub-contracting work for FEMA, but represented himself as Dan McDonald."

If that's the case, said SueLynn, FEMA may be prepared to reconsider its decision and honor the Anna Maria-WMI contract at full value.

"I really hope they get to the bottom of this mystery," she said.