The head of the Orleans Levee Board has quit amid questions about no-bid contracts to his relatives in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
The final days of board president Jim Huey's tenure also had been marred by his collection of nearly $100,000 in back pay several weeks before the storm. Huey had led the board for nine years.
Huey defended the contracts and said he was legally entitled to the back pay...
"I didn't want to leave under these circumstances, but I fell victim to some other folks who don't know what they're talking about and they have to live with themselves," he said.
Huey would not say whom he was referring to.
On Sept. 1, three days after Katrina came ashore, Huey leased 3,000 square feet of office space in Baton Rouge from board legal consultant George Carmouche, a cousin of Huey's wife.
Huey said he authorized the $30,000 contact to ensure that the agency's executive staff would have a place to operate after its lakefront headquarters was decimated by Katrina's storm surge. He said he signed the lease only after state government failed to provide him a base of operation.
About a week later, Huey approved a business arrangement with Carmouche's son, Scott, to coordinate the salvage of boats damaged or destroyed by the hurricane at the board's two marinas. Huey said he was forced to move quickly on the salvage contract because the recovery of boats by insurance companies and owners was threatening to devolve into chaos.