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La. Parish Won't Hire Ex-Chief of FEMA

April 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Under mounting criticism, former FEMA chief Michael D. Brown said Wednesday that he would not serve as a paid consultant to St. Bernard Parish, a New Orleans suburb hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

Brown, whose name became synonymous with government ineptitude after Katrina, had planned to meet with officials in the parish today to help them navigate the recovery process. He canceled his trip after residents protested.

Brown made the decision after meeting in Orlando, Fla., with parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, where both were attending a national hurricane preparedness conference.

"I talked to Junior Rodriguez tonight," Brown said Wednesday by telephone, "and I told Junior: 'My offer still stands. If you need advice, I can continue to do that free of charge for you. But why should I come down there and stir up controversy?' "

Katrina killed 129 people and destroyed 26,000 homes in the parish, just outside New Orleans.

Brown, who resigned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency under pressure in the days after the Aug. 29 hurricane, initially shouldered the bulk of the criticism for a bungled rescue effort. His image improved somewhat after a tape was released showing Brown warning President Bush the day before the disaster that the storm was going to be "the big one" and that water could flow over the tops of the levees.

After resigning in September, Brown formed a consulting company to help governments and others negotiate the federal bureaucracy. Four parish council members, led by Rodriguez, traveled to Washington, D.C., last week and asked for Brown's help.

Some parish leaders had denounced the possible hiring.

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