US Mission Mexico Issues Emergency Message on Hurricane Patricia

Posted: 3:12 pm PDT
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US Mission Mexico issued an emergency message for U.S. citizens in the country on October 23, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. concerning Hurricane Patricia.  It is expected to make landfall as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.  Patricia is also expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8-12 inches which could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Excerpt from the announcement below:

Hurricane Patricia is now being classified as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, and is expected to make landfall on Friday, October 23, 2015, along the coast of Michoacan, Colima (which includes Manzanillo), Jalisco (which includes Puerto Vallarta),and/or Nayarit.  It is now considered one of the most powerful and dangerous hurricanes in recorded history.  If you are in the hurricane warning area, make preparations immediately to protect life and property.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an updated Hurricane Warning for the Pacific Coast of Mexico from San Blas, Nayarit, to Punta San Telmo, Michoacan (see http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?epac).   A hurricane watch is in effect for east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas and north of San Blas to El Roblito, Nayarit.

The center of Hurricane Patricia is expected to make landfall in the hurricane warning area Friday afternoon or evening.  Hurricane Patricia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, over the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero starting today into Saturday, October 24.  These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods, mud slides (especially in areas of mountainous terrain), and high winds up to 200 MPH that could result in downed power lines. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding, accompanied by large and destructive waves.  Swells may cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.  As Hurricane Patricia moves inland, it will continue to produce heavy rainfall, wind, and dangerous conditions.  Persons located inland in the path of Hurricane Patricia should take appropriate measures to ensure their safety, particularly those located in areas prone to flooding or mudslides. NOAA recommends that residents in low-lying areas near the coast in the hurricane warning area evacuate immediately.

We strongly encourage you to monitor media reports and the Mexican government’s civil protection (“Protección Civil”) website, http://www.proteccioncivil.gob.mx, for updated information about the storm and to follow official instructions.  Stay clear of beaches, as rough seas associated with storm conditions create severe hazards.  Stay clear of downed power lines.  Take precautions against the effects of rain, strong winds, and large and destructive waves. We strongly encourage you to take shelter as advised by Mexican authorities or at any time you feel you are in danger.

Read more here.

image from noaa.gov

image from noaa.gov

Periodic updates are also available on the websites for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara.

You may alert the embassy to U.S. citizens affected by the storm, by sending an email to PatriciaEmergencyUSC@state.gov or CDJPatriciaTF@state.gov and providing as much information as possible.  You can also use the following contact numbers

  • +52-656-227-3105 (From Mexico),
  • 1-888-407-4747 (From the United States and Canada),
  • +1-202-501-4444 (From all other countries)

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Whoa! The Next Consul General in Istanbul Will Be a Political Appointee?

Posted: 3:49 am EDT
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File this under #rumint.  Some küçük dedikodu we’re hearing is that the next Consul General in Istanbul will be a political appointee.

Güzel degil, arkadaslarim.

The incumbent in Istanbul is senior career diplomat Chuck Hunter. He assumed his duties as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey, in September 2013. Per typical rotation in the FS, he’d be scheduled to leave post in the  summer or fall of 2016. Whoever is angling for this position will have to put in the request this year.  Is this position showing up on FSBid?

Somebody told us, “I thought only ambassadorships could go to political appointees overseas.”   Traditionally, only ambassadorships have gone to political appointees. But that may not be quite true anymore. We are starting to see chiefs of staff, for noncareer ambassadors “joined” the Foreign Service as Schedule C employees. We understand that there are approximately about a dozen of such positions currently in place. There was one at the US Embassy in Beijing at one point.  And there is one at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo who apparently runs the mission together with the DCM (see State/OIG Inspects US Mission Japan: Oh, Heck, Where Do We Start?).

The State Department apparently made a previous attempt to appoint a senior executive service HR DAS as Consul General in Melbourne, a case resisted at that time by AFSA, according to one source. A side note, in October last year, we blogged about the rumored Iran Watcher London position potentially being eyed for a staffer in the office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (see Is This Iran Watcher London Position Not Bidlisted About to Go to a “P” Staffer?). After a fuss was raised, the job apparently went to a qualified Foreign Service officer who was thrilled to go to London with her family. An Iran Watcher job was then created in Amsterdam. Except that there was an Iran Watcher already on language training slated to go to Erbil, Iraq and when that position was eliminated, the individual was reassigned to Amsterdam.

It is not clear to us if the rumored candidate for the CG Istanbul position is a Civil Service employe or a political appointee of the bundler kind.

Istanbul_bridge

Istanbul (photo by USCG Istanbul/FB)

ConGen Istanbul is one of our oldest posts. The United States established diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire in 1831, establishiing the U.S. Legation in Constantinople (Istanbul). The legation was raised to embassy status in 1906. The two states broke diplomatic ties during World War I. Relations were reestablished in 1927 after the founding of the modern Turkish state in 1923. In the 1930s the Embassy gradually transferred to Ankara, Turkey’s new capital, leaving behind a consulate general located at the Palazzo Corpi in Istanbul. Construction of a new consulate compound in İstinye was completed in 2003.

Istanbul is rated high for political violence and rated critical for terrorism. If that’s not enough to make you sit up, the conflict in neighboring Syria has become extremely dangerous for Turkey.

So … whose dimbulb idea is this?

By coincidence, the State Department had just published its final rule on the Appointment of Foreign Service Officers. Read the full text (PDF) of the final rule document. It is formally published on Oct 23, 2015 in the Federal Register. The final rule says in part:

Other than a minor amendment in 2002 (see 67 FR 46108), part 11 has remained as it was drafted 31 years ago; whereas, the relevant provisions of the FAM were updated in 2013. This rulemaking harmonizes the two authorities. The Department believes that a revised part 11, together with the FAM, provide comprehensive guidance for both internal stakeholders and interested members of the general public on the appointment of Foreign Service Officers. The Department’s revision of part 11 is part of its Retrospective Review conducted pursuant to Executive Order 13563.

Below is the relevant section which doesn’t look new:

§ 11.60 Limited non-career appointments.

Consistent with section 303 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 3943), the Secretary of State may also appoint Civil Service employees and other individuals to the Foreign Service, and, consistent with section 309 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 3949), such appointments may include limited non-career appointments (LNAs). After meeting the job specific requirements, candidates must meet applicable medical, security, and suitability requirements. Limited non- career appointments are covered under 3 FAM 2290.

3 FAM 2290 (pdf) states that “seven categories in 3 FAM 2293, subparagraphs b(1) through b(7), are the only categories by which a Civil Service employee or other individual from outside the Foreign Service may be appointed to the Foreign Service pursuant to an LNA under Section 303 of the Foreign Service Act. The Department’s procedures for appointing Civil Service employees and other individuals from outside the Foreign Service as LNAs outside these categories are subject to negotiations between the Department and the Foreign Service’s exclusive representative, prior to institution of further categories.”

3 FAM 2293 TYPES OF LIMITED NONCAREER APPOINTMENTS UNDER SECTION 303 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT
(CT:PER-726; 04-18-2014) (State Only) (Applies to Foreign Service and Civil Service employees) 

a. Consistent with Section 502 of the Foreign Service Act (22 U.S.C. 3982), the Department’s goal is to ensure that positions designated as Foreign Service positions are filled by assignment of career and career-conditional members of the Foreign Service.

b. Pursuant to Sections 303 and 309 of the Foreign Service Act, the Department appoints Civil Service employees and other individuals from outside the Foreign Service to LNAs as:

(1) Hard-to-Fill (HTF) Candidates: Positions that have not attracted sufficient bidders through the Foreign Service assignments process and thus may be filled by Department Civil Service employees. The procedures and eligibility requirements applicable to HTF positions as well as the scope and frequency of available positions may vary from year to year. Each HTF program will be announced by an ALDAC after consultation with the Foreign Service’s exclusive representative;

(2) Expert Candidates: For these positions, bureaus are to request temporary FTE from the Office of Resource Management (HR/RMA) before presenting an Action Memorandum to the Director, HR/CDA. For example, expert LNAs include, but are not limited to, positions that cannot normally be filled with Foreign Service personnel, such as certain attorney positions at embassies and missions that are filled by lawyers from the Office of the Legal Adviser, and a nuclear physicist position that was temporarily required in Japan.

(3) Developmental Assignment Candidates: These assignments provide experience and exposure to Foreign Service operations for Civil Service personnel through two methods–bureau candidate only advertised positions, for example, A Bureau positions at ELSO and Overseas Development Program positions advertised via CS merit promotion announcements.

(4) Volunteer Cable Candidates: Volunteer cables are sent, as agreed annually with the exclusive representative in the Bidding Instructions, when there are no qualified bidders for a vacancy that has been advertised. The regional bureaus initiate the volunteer cable exercise as a request to HR/CDA to send such a cable based on Foreign Service need. If a Civil Service candidate is selected, the Director General must prepare a Certificate of Need in accordance with 3 FAM 2295 (see also 3 FAM Exhibit 2295 for an example of this certificate);

(5) Schedule C and Other Outside-Hire Candidates: These appointments include, but are not limited to, chief-of-mission office management specialists, eligible family members, and other outside hires;

(6) Exceptional Circumstance Candidates: The Department’s Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (Director General) may designate certain positions to be filled under an “exceptional circumstance” category (see 3 FAM 2294 below).

(7) Urgent, Limited Need: These limited non-career appointments support specific or exceptional mission-critical needs that existing Foreign Service personnel cannot meet. These needs are considered to be of limited duration, not justifying the creation of a new category of a career Foreign Service employee. HR/RMA will authorize the FTE for these positions. Every two years, the Director General or designee will review each category of LNA falling under this paragraph in consultation with the Foreign Service’s exclusive representative, to determine whether the specific need still exists and existing Foreign Service personnel cannot meet the need.

We’ve got great memories of Istanbul.  We’re interested to hear more about this rumored candidate. Is this all smoke or is there fire?

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