LACOMBE, La. -- When cardiologist Dr. Pramod Menon raised his right hand in November to become St. Tammany's interim coroner, he said there were some urgent issues to be addressed. He tackled them head on.
“Things were quite disorganized, and we felt as though implementation of a more solid infrastructure was necessary," he said.
Many of the problems were left behind by former Corner Peter Galvan, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges after almost a year of allegations of misspending and mismanagement of the elected office.
Parish leaders say Menon has been a breath of fresh air.
"We've met with him several times. He's very professional,” said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, “We appreciate the fact that he stepped up and took on this challenge, and it was a challenge to right the ship."
Many of the changes can be found in this new policy manual. It's something the office hadn't had updated since 2000.
“From the very basic such as requiring time sheets for everybody on a weekly basis, that are reconciled both with the office administration and our accounting firm, to creating a vehicle log that's used regularly that allows us to assess mileage gas usage, etc.," said Menon.
“Some of the other things we've done are really made an assessment of the essential personnel for the office. We felt that some of the staff that was present in the previous administration may not be necessary, at least in the interim."
And because Menon will not seek the permanent job, as a condition of the interim one, he is hopeful the direction the office is headed now will help the newly elected coroner hit the ground running later this year.
A special election to fill the remainder of Galvan’s term through 2016 is set for April. Galvan is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 29 and faces up to five years in prison.