In The News › Inspectors general give advice to Jeff

Jun 25, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Jefferson Parish

Inspectors general give advice to Jeff

Situations differ in N.O., Philadelphia

Friday, June 25, 2010
By Richard Rainey
The Times-Picayune

Independence is the key to a successful inspector general’s office, New Orleans Inspector General Eduoard Quatrevaux advised Jefferson Parish officials Thursday as they work to create a similar oversight plan in Louisiana’s most populous parish.

Without it, he said, an audit or investigation easily could be derailed any number of ways, including direct pressure from a powerful politician or cutting the budget to the office.

“I’d prefer you not do it at all if you don’t do it right,” said Quatrevaux, speaking to a host of Jefferson officials, residents and businesspeople at a Bureau of Governmental Research breakfast in Kenner.

The concept of an oversight office in Jefferson arose from the scandal that ripped through former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s administration last year. Broussard’s top administrator, Tim Whitmer, owned an insurance agency that was doing business with several parish contractors. Broussard admitted doing $5,000 worth of legal work for the agency in 2009. Both resigned in January amid a federal criminal investigation that has now grown to include other departments within the administration.

It often takes just such a blow to public trust to begin the trumpeting for an inspector general’s office, Quatrevaux said.

His vision differed in some major ways from the situation faced by Thursday’s other speaker, Amy Kurland, the inspector general for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia pays for its inspector general through the city’s general fund, meaning that officials with budgetary oversight can dictate changes to the $1.2 million that Kurland typically has at her disposal each year. For instance, the City Council, which oversees city spending, proposed this year that it be exempted from her oversight. That effort died in committee, she said.
Kurland also reports directly to Mayor Michael Nutter. She said the arrangement works because of Nutter’s support for her efforts.

“I think eventually that will blow up,” Quatrevaux said, a point that Kurland acknowledged should she ever have to report to a less-receptive chief executive.

Quatrevaux endured his own hardships in taking over the New Orleans inspector general’s office last fall. Then- Mayor Ray Nagin called the office a puppet for a “shadow government” dedicated to racial discrimination.

But Quatrevaux has found more support in Nagin’s successor, Mitch Landrieu, who made it known he would work with the inspector general to show more of the government’s inner workings to the public.

The boundaries of the Jefferson Parish equivalent are still being hashed out, said Tom Meyer, chairman of the committee that has met since March to make recommendations to the Parish Council.

Alongside the emphasis on independence, Meyer said he was impressed with the focus of the two inspectors general on preventing fraud and waste as much as catching those surreptitiously dipping into the trough for public money.

“It’s not that we’re going after all the criminals,” Meyer said. “It’s that we’re preventing them.”

Jun 25, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Jefferson Parish

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.