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The Joys of Art

Friday, April 14, 2006


Man!!! God works fast!!! Give Him all the glory!!!

Get to steppin' "Brownie"!!!!

Les Paradis Des Musiciens--Wayne Toups

St. Bernard chases off former FEMA director
Thursday, April 13, 2006
By Karen Turni Bazile
St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau
One St. Bernard Parish official compared it to hiring Michael Jackson to run a child care center. Others said they wanted nothing to do with the man they described as the face of the woeful federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

With such a reaction to the parish's notion to hire former FEMA director Michael Brown's consulting company to help St. Bernard's storm recovery efforts, the target of the criticism decided Wednesday to back away from the job.

"In light of all this controversy, I will continue to give them whatever help they want," Brown said by phone Wednesday while noting that he had canceled his trip to St. Bernard. "They are free to call me anytime without charge. I'm happy to do that for them."

Brown, who left the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September amid harsh criticism of his agency's performance after the devastating storm, was scheduled to meet with parish officials Thursday to discuss how he could help the parish's recovery. Reports of his job-seeking visit triggered outrage in the parish.

The criticism began last week after Parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez discussed a proposal to hire the former FEMA director, saying the parish could benefit from Brown's expertise.

Rodriguez and three parish council members met with Brown in Washington, D.C., when the local officials were there meeting with members of Congress about disaster assistance.

On Friday, Rodriguez said Brown agreed to meet with the whole council this week. But several council members openly opposed the proposal, creating a firestorm of bad publicity.

Brown said Wednesday he heard "some residents in the parish just said they didn't like me, and that I am the face of all the problems they had. I am sorry, and I really do want to help that parish."

Three of the parish's seven council members said they would never vote to spend money on Brown as a consultant.

"If we hired him, we would complete the cycle of insanity that hit this parish on Aug. 29," council member Judy Hoffmeister said.

"Anyone who votes for him needs to be committed," she said. "My vote would not only be 'no' but 'hell, no.' "

Councilman Mark Madary agreed.

"It would be like me asking Michael Jackson to run a child care center," Madary said. "I thought the (FEMA) response during his tenure and since his tenure has not helped St. Bernard, and I felt we were left by ourselves -- stranded. For us to bring him in now, the perception would kill us."

. . . . . . .

Karen Turni Bazile can be reached at kturni@timespicayune.com or (504) 352-2539.


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