Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Year Of Crisis: A Timeline of Upheaval at New Orleans' Ethics Review Board and Office of Inspector General

Featured below is an excerpt from the most recent report from the Louisiana Justice Institute: A Vote of No Confidence: The Case for Re-Organization of the New Orleans Ethics Review Board and Office of Inspector General. We believe that the debate over the future direction of these institutions is a vital part of New Orleans' future. You can download the complete report at

Beginning in December 2008 to the present day, the ERB and OIG have been plagued by news headlines and reports evidencing both internal and external upheaval. A brief timeline follows:

∙ December 17, 2008 – OIG releases the Interim Report on the Management of the Administrative Vehicle Fleet, finding that Mayor Ray Nagin's administration violated several state laws and city ordinances governing take-home vehicles, costing taxpayers nearly $1 million.

∙ January 16, 2009 – Controversy erupts with news reports that the OIG requests additional funding to arm its staff with semiautomatic pistols, miniature rifles, laser sighting devices, bulletproof vests, handcuffs and leg irons.

∙ January 29, 2009 – Inspector General Robert Cerasoli abruptly resigns for health reasons. Leonard Odom takes over as Interim Inspector General.

∙ February 27, 2009 – The OIG releases the report Installation of Crime Surveillance Cameras 2003-2008, finding potential violations of federal law.

∙ July 16, 2009 – Interim Inspector General Leonard Odom announces that he has selected the new Independent Police Monitor. After protests by community members claiming the IPM application process was too short, and the search too limited, Odom retracts the selection.

∙ August 5, 2009 – The IPM selection committee intervenes with four applicants, and votes to recommend selection of Neely Moody for the position, despite complaints by community members and two selection committee members.

∙ August 11, 2009 – Interim Inspector General Odom hires Neely Moody to serve as the Independent Police Monitor, and Holly Wiseman as the Deputy Police Monitor.

∙ September 3, 2009 – The ERB selects Edouard Quatrevaux as the new Inspector General. Interim Inspector General Odom is immediately relieved of his duties by the ERB Chairman Kevin Wildes.

∙ September 4, 2009 – Inspector General Quatrevaux announces that Leonard Odom will return to his former position as First Assistant Inspector General for Criminal Investigations.

∙ September 8, 2009 – Leonard Odom resigns his position with the OIG.

∙ September 10, 2009 – Inspector General Quatrevaux announces that the OIG will set up a contract monitoring unit to review city contract solicitations and examine whether bidders have criminal records.

∙ September 12, 2009 – Inspector General Quatrevaux requests and is granted 5-week leave of absence.

∙ September 14, 2009 – ERB Chairman Kevin Wildes appoints OIG staff engineer David Westerling to serve as the Interim Inspector General.

∙ September 16, 2009 - Neely Moody resigns from his position as the Independent Police Monitor, and reportedly threatens to malign the office.

∙ September 17, 2009 – News reports focus on the submission of a report by OIG auditors Susan Brown and Laura East, Assessment of the Transition of the New Orleans Office of Inspector General from Inspector General Robert Cerasoli to Interim Inspector General Leonard Odom on January 30, 2009, to the State of Louisiana Legislative Auditor. The date of the report is August 27, 2009.

∙ September 23, 2009 - New Orleans City Councilman James Carter urges that the search for a new independent police monitor be suspended until the city council develops new selection procedures to address the criticism of the prior selection process.

∙ September 25, 2009 – Interim Inspector General Westerling terminates auditors Susan Brown and Laura East, alleging that they failed to show up to work.

∙ October 4, 2009 – An OIG report, Review of 2009 Budget Process for City of New Orleans, criticizing the city council’s budget practices and priorities, is published online by the Louisiana Justice Institute, a non-governmental organization.

∙ October 6, 2009 – Public records released to the Louisiana Justice Institute show that terminated OIG auditors Susan Brown and Laura East were not AWOL but, in fact, were granted leave to attend the AICPA National Forensic Accounting Conference from September 22 – 25, 2009.

No comments: