NEW ORLEANS – Former FEMA chief Michael Brown says he'll still offer advice to hurricane-battered St. Bernard Parish, but he won't serve as a paid consultant because it would just stir up controversy.
Brown, whose name became synonymous with government ineptitude in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, had planned to meet with officials in the parish Thursday about a consulting contract to help the parish cut through red tape as it navigates the federal bureaucracy.
He canceled that trip Wednesday after some lawmakers and residents protested, and notified parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez that night.
"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?"' Brown said Wednesday by telephone.
The Aug. 29 hurricane killed 129 people and destroyed 26,000 homes in St. Bernard Parish, just outside New Orleans.
Brown resigned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency under pressure shortly after the hurricane hit and has since formed a consulting company to help governments and others deal with the federal bureaucracy.
Four parish council members, led by Rodriguez, recently met with Brown to request his help. But some parish leaders denounced the possible hiring.
"It smells to high heaven. I'm a Christian and the Apostle Paul says, `To prove all things, keep the work good and abstain from the very appearance of evil,"' Councilman Lynn Dean said. "This does appear evil, don't it? So we should abstain from hiring him."