The Orleans Levee Board is the organization responsible for making sure that New Orleans does not flood. To say their job performance has been questioned lately would be to put it mildly. But in the middle of it all we get this….
Levee Board chief got thousands in back pay
Opinions differ on his eligibility
Less than a month before Hurricane Katrina wrecked the Orleans Levee Board’s finances and left the levees it maintains in shambles, board President Jim Huey requested and got nearly $100,000 in back pay that the agency’s hired legal advisers – one of whom is a relative of his wife– determined he was entitled to receive.
The payment for about $96,000, which was made without approval from the board or its staff attorney, came on the advice of Gerard Metzger and George Carmouche, two contract lawyers with close ties to Huey, who was originally appointed by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1992 and reappointed by Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco. Carmouche, of Baton Rouge, is a first cousin of Huey’s wife, Becky Metzger of Metairie, and has been a close friend of Huey’s since the two attended high school together at Holy Cross.
After cursory research, board officials indicated several months ago that Huey, who has no formal administrative duties, was not eligible for any compensation beyond the $75 per diem that board members can receive for each day they work on agency business.
State lawmakers also rejected the extra pay for Huey. In the waning hours of the Legislature’s 2005 session, state Sen. Francis Heitmeier, a Huey ally, tried unsuccessfully to make Huey eligible for a $60,000 annual salary by inserting the pay provision into an unrelated piece of legislation.
Well, life really is getting back to normal in New Orleans. When people ask me; “Do you think New Orleans will ever be like it once was?” my standard answer is, “Geeze I hope not.”