In The News › New Orleans voters asked to approve inspector general, police monitor split

New Orleans voters asked to approve inspector general, police monitor split

By Greg LaRose | The Times-Picayune

October 24, 2016

A dispute over operational authority and finances led the New Orleans City Council last year to split the offices of its two chief watchdogs. Acrimony between Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux and Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson had grown so bitter that he was calling for her to be fired for “ethical misconduct and unprofessional conduct.”

Hutson refuted those claims and insisted the rancor underlined the need for the two agencies to be separated. On Nov. 8, city voters will be asked to formalize the divorce with a charter change.

If it’s approved:

The Independent Police Monitor and Ethics Review Board would be recognized as distinct entities from the Office of Inspector General, severing links among the three financially and operationally. The Ethics Review Board would still retain appointment power over the inspector general, however.

The agreement the City Council approved last year split the share of the city’s general fund dedicated to the Office of Inspector General, with Quatrevaux keeping 0.59 percent, and 0.16 percent placed in control of the police monitor. The city charter amendment would lock in the police monitor’s share and take another 0.04 percent from the inspector general’s cut to support the Ethics Review Board.

The amendment would also set up an external evaluation process for each entity.

If it fails:

The Independent Police Monitor would have to reach a formal understanding with the Office of Inspector General to honor the agreement the City Council backed in 2015. Without it, the two entities are bound to a 2008 charter amendment that created the IPM Division. It places funding and oversight of the police monitor in the hands of the inspector general.

Who’s in favor:

Quatrevaux and Hutson, of course. They are joining Councilman Jared Brossett for a press conference at 5:30 p.m. Monday (Oct. 24) to explain the charter amendment. Brossett authored the proposed amendment and supports it.

Who’s against it:

No formal opposition to the charter change has come forward. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research is not taking a position, although in a recent report it questioned whether the amendment was necessary. Among its concerns is whether the rift between Quatrevaux and Hutson needed to be settled through a charter alteration.

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