Chief Poarch to Come to FCC
On Friday, February 23, 2007 FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced "his intention to appoint" Derek Poarch, a North Carolina police chief, as the FCC’s first Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief. (Poarch is pronounced with a silent a as in front porch"
“Public safety is one of the Commission’s and my top priorities, and I am very pleased that Chief Poarch, who is a highly accomplished and nationally respected law enforcement officer, has agreed to head our bureau,” Chairman Martin said. The Commission announced in March 17, 2006 that it planned to create this bureau and it has been operational since September 26, 2006 under Acting Chief Ken Moran (whose appointment was never announced publicly).
Having an experienced public safety officer at senior FCC management should improve mutual understanding between the public safety community and FCC.
Chief Poarch assumed the position of Director of Public Safety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on September 14, 1998. (Chairman Martin is a U.N.C. graduate and has served on the Board Of Trustees.) In this position Chief Poarch commands a department of approximately 300 full and part-time employees providing police, security, emergency communications, parking and transportation services to a university community of 40,000 persons having more than one million visitors each year.
Chief Poarch is a native of Lenoir, North Carolina and prior to becoming police chief at UNC, he worked 21 years at the Lenoir North Carolina Police Department. He began his career as a telecommunicator and ascended through the department ranks to become second in command of the department holding the rank of Major over department operations.
He is a 1979 graduate of Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton, North Carolina with an associates degree in Police Science; a 1981 graduate of Gardner-Webb University with a bachelors degree in Social Science with a concentration in criminal justice and a 1988 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a masters degree in criminal justice. The chief has attended numerous police management schools and graduated as a dean’s scholar from the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville in 1992.
Chief Poarch is a commissioner with the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission where he serves as Chair of the Education and Training Committee. He is the founding and past president of Lenoir Police Community Partners Inc., a non-profit corporation founded to provide financial support to communities in the City of Lenoir. In July 2003 he was elected President of the North Carolina Police Executives Association. Chief Poarch previously served on the United States Department of Justice National Community Oriented Policing Resource Board.
It struck me a little odd that the FCC Public Notice announcing Chief Poarch's appointment starts with the phrase "Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced his intention to appoint Derek Poarch ..". The "intention to nominate" phrase is a White House phrase that has not been used at FCC for long. For example, he previously used it in a January 8, 2007 PN dealing with the appointments for new chiefs of IB and MB. On the other hand, a December 29, 2006 PN said,
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin named Fred Campbell as Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Catherine Seidel as Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.although the corresponding headline of the FCC website said
Chairman Martin Announces the Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.Going back to basics, Section 4(f)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, states
The Commission shall have authority, subject to the provisions of the civil-service laws and chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, to appoint such officers, engineers, accountants, attorneys, inspectors, examiners, and other employees as are necessary in the exercise of its functions. (emphasis added)The Chairman has certain powers delegated to him under 47 CFR 0.3, but appointing bureau chiefs is not one of them. Now everyone knows that the Commission defers to the Chairman on such appointment unless the appointee is an ax murderer or has personally insulted a commissioner. But the legal authority rests with the Commission, not the Chairman.
Chairman Powell was more sensitive on this point, using the following words in a May 14, 2001 announcement,
FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell today announced the appointments of K. Dane Snowden as Chief of the Consumer Information Bureau; Martha Johnston as Director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs; Jane Mago as the agency's General Counsel and John Rogovin Deputy General Counsel; and William Spencer Deputy Managing Director.Chairman Powell did not claim to have made the appointment himself, he was just announcing them. Chairman Kinnard, on the other hand, used phraseology similar to Chairman Martin's when in announcing appointments one time.
A September 15, 1997 PN when Reed Hundt was chairman used the passive verb form to avoid the issue all together saying "Lawrence E. Strickling has been named Chairman of the Commission's Enforcement Task Force."
However, at the beginning of the Kinnard chairmanship, a PN announcing the new bureau chiefs began simply with "On November 6, 1997 the Commission announced the following personnel appointments:"
I assume the career civil servants in the Commission's Office of Media Relations understand these issues but were ignored by the political types on the 8th floor every time the wrong language was used in PNs. The irony is that the root cause of the worst public safety problem FCC has ever had, the 800 MHz Nextel mess, was probably the same thing: political appointees ignoring career staff's caution. (In that case dealing with the need for conditions on the Fleetcall waiver that was the origin of the problem.) But FCC has never done a postmortem on what went wrong and resulted in the Nextel problem. Chief Poarch, let me suggest this as a project for your new staff.
Welcome to FCC!