A Heckuva Job: Hurricane-Ravaged Louisiana Parish Considers Hiring Brownie

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By: E&P Staff

In one of the most amazing turnabouts in recent times, officials in Katrina-ravaged St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana are looking to hire the man most vilified in the aftermath of the disaster: former FEMA Director Michael Brown.

The consulting firm formed by Brown after losing his job at FEMA, has been approached by St. Bernard Parish to help businesses and communities negotiate the maze of federal bureaucracy. Brown will make a pitch to the St. Bernard Parish council on Thursday. A huge crowd is expected.

An editorial in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans on Tuesday called thwe whole idea a “mistake.” It said that local officials “need to remember Mr. Brown’s abysmal performance during and after the hurricane.”

Despite recent revelations that show that he was at least somewhat more on top of the situation than believed, “nothing in Mr. Brown’s performance suggests that he’s the person who can make things happen for St. Bernard Parish,” the editorial warned. “If he couldn’t get FEMA to work right when he was on the inside, before his forced resignation, how can he do so now, from the outside?”

State Sen. Walter Boasso, who represents St. Bernard, is urging the Parish Council to look elsewhere for help. “Brown is just a sad reminder to my community of our needless loss of life and property, and we shouldn’t have to struggle with that reminder so soon in the midst of our rebuilding,” he said.

At this point, the Times-Picayune declared, “Mr. Brown seems to need St. Bernard far more than St. Bernard needs him.”

But Brown has said: “I hope to give them some publicity about the plight they’re facing right now.”

St. Bernard was one of the hardest-hit parishes in the storm, with 129 people killed and 26,000 homes destroyed.

Brown said his FEMA experience will help St. Bernard. “It’s a perspective that very few people have,” he said, which is surely true.

His recent appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” will be repeated Wednesday night.

Though St. Bernard officials said talks are preliminary, Brown and parish officials are drawing up a contract and might formalize it by the end of next week, he said. Brown, who normally charges $250 an hour, said he will probably charge a monthly fee.

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