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Nelson Helps Get Nord Nixed

If you've noticed that Sen. Bill Nelson has an extra spring in his step lately, it's because this week his friends in the Obama administration flushed the agency chief who has long held the top spot on Nelson's List of People to Fire.

That would be Nancy Nord, who had been appointed by Bush in 2005 to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Her defenders, who appeared on this blog the last time we mentioned her, claim that her agency was woefully underfunded, which may be true, but that's all the more reason to place a person in that job who will actually fight for a bigger piece of the federal budget. Congressional panels begged Nord to do so, but she resisted, even as she blamed lack of funding for the agency's failures. This led to questions about whether Nord's mission was to advance or impede the cause of consumer safety. The latest outrage is over her agency's slow response to issuing a recall of the Chinese drywall that's been ruining home values in Florida and elsewhere.

As recently as last Friday, Nord had tried to mend fences with Nelson, writing him this letter describing a "multi-track approach" to the drywall issue. From the Florida senator's standpoint, Nord's train had long since jumped the tracks. "For too long consumers have been ignored by a board that's been too cozy with industry," Nelson said in a statement following the announcement by the Obama administration.

Nord had intended to serve out her term, which was to end in 2012. Obama's nominee to be the agency's new chair is Inez Moore Tenenbaum, who will be able to tackle the task with a much bigger budget.

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Thomas Francis

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