Pursuant to the City Charter of the City of New Orleans, the City Council, the Mayor, the City Attorney, and a host of other senior appointed officials are required by law to complete the City of New Orleans Financial Disclosure Form by July 31st of each year. Moreover, upon taking the oath of office, newly elected officials are required to file the Financial Disclosure Form within sixty (60) days.
LJI made its public records request for these documents on March 24, 2009. The City Attorney is required to maintain and disclose these records immediately upon request.
Instead, on Monday, March 30th Penya Moses-Fields refused to release the records of the City Council members because Council Attorney Steven Lane insisted he be allowed to redact information from the forms, or completely withhold the counsel records.
"Not everyone who attends law school should practice law," stated frustrated LJI Managing Director Tracie Washington. "The law is clear, and plain enough for a second grader to understand. Lane was prohibited by law from obstructing these disclosures. So what happens when the normal ‘Joe' or ‘Jane' asks for these records? Will Lane continue to block good-government, transparency efforts?"
LJI has embarked on Project Transparency (www.NolaPublicRecords.org). "We started this project so our community will have complete, unfettered access to the records they pay for and are entitled to by law," states LJI Co-Director Jacques Morial.
We invite the public to review these disclosures, and make comment on LJI's blog, www.JusticeRoars.org. The documents produced are the only ones presently maintained by the City Attorney. You will note, several disclosure forms are missing, and Mayor Nagin 2007 disclosure form was not executed until March 30, 2009.