<b>Ready blogging:</b> This isn’t going to be a post like the last time <a href=”http://www.rexblog.com/2004/02/19#a2576″>I chatted with a government official</a> but yesterday I spent about an hour with Tom Ridge <span style=”text-decoration:line-through;”>complaining about the long screening lines at BWI airport</span> regarding a new Homeland Security program called <a href=”http://www.ready.gov/business/index.html”>Ready Business (ready.gov/business)</a> designed to encourage small businesses to take some basic steps in preparation for a natural or man-made emergency. Not once did the topic of <a href=”http://www.ready.gov/faq.html#q5″>duct tape come up</a>. Unlike meeting with the President, yesterday I was an official “member of the press,” wearing my hat as an editor of a national magazine with a circulation of 550,000 small business owners. Journalists from the other 4-5 magazines you’d expect to be there were also sitting at the table. As the content of what we discussed is pretty much covered on the Ready.gov website and I’m writing about the topic in several day-job venues, I’ll skip that part (bottom line: use common sense).
Rarely is there ever any news in one of these news briefing, round-table things. And yesterday was no exception. We met in a small board-room-like conference room at the Intercontinental Hotel on 48th. We were asked to be that precisely at nine, I thought for security reasons, but it was mainly so we’d be punctual. I got there early, but the others, all New York-based, walked in at the nanosecond of nine.
While there were only eight-ten people around the table, there was an air of formality. Definitely a “business” meeting. (However, the room got a little warm and Ridge said he should take his jacket off.) The format was chatting, no power-point or presentation beyond Ridge’s outlining why Homeland Security is suggesting small businesses should take the time to prepare for something like a tornado or fire (FEMA is a part of HSA so it’s not all about terrorism was the explanation, although it appears obvious if a small business is prepared for one emergency, it will help in the case of any other kind of emergency).
Ridge reminded me of the actor and former senator from my state of Tennessee, Fred Thompson. Big guy with that central-casting “look” of a cabinet member (while in real life, few actually do look that way) or chairman-of-the-board. Knew his stuff and was comfortable with all the questions. He wears a hearing aid in his left ear, however, and had some difficulty deciphering the mumbled questions from the writers.
(An aside: After having family (and their businesses) threatened by three hurricanes within a few weeks, this whole preparedness thing has become more interesting to me. I’ve coupled working on the topic (for some writing projects) and preparing a plan for Hammock Publishing and the process has been enlightening. One of the items on our still-in-draft emergency plan is a temporary blog that will replace our usual website.)