ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal spent his Friday out of the public eye following a grueling week that socked his state with snowfall, and his response to it with national criticism. He spent part of Friday working to reform the state's weather response plan -- and doing so with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, led by its embattled director Charlie English.
English was the downcast agency director who accepted blame for the state's slow response to the storm. " I got this one wrong. I got it wrong by at least six hours," a contrite English told a news conference Thursday.
English has kept his job, and Deal backer Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) says there may be good reason for it.
"If you get rid of him now and we have another storm next week, then suddenly you've got chaos in a department that you must rely on," Brockway, who is also a Republican blogger, said Friday.
English runs the agency that's supposed to keep tabs on weather alerts -- but overlooked the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service at 3:39am Tuesday.
The day before the storm, Deal's chief of staff Chris Riley, sent English an email that dryly observed that "everyone keeps trying to tell me how bad the weather is going to be but I keep saying if the weather was going to be bad, Charley would have called and he hasn't called me." 11Alive News obtained the email under an Open Records Act request.
Deal is running for re-election this year. Democrats, smelling blood, issued a news release saying Deal was "asleep at the switch" during the storm. But they did so while similar criticism bombarded the state's top elected Democrat, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
"I think it's hard for Democrats to use this as an attack against Gov. Deal because you've got Mayor Reed out there, who is in the same boat," Brockway said. But Brockway said another winter storm -- and another stalled response by the state -- could hurt Deal in his re-election effort this year.
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