NEW ORLEANS -- This city's incoming mayor, the first white mayor in three decades, ran into his first hurdle on Monday when black community leaders said his handling of a police chief search was overly secretive.
Until Monday, the election and transition work of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu had been unmarred by acrimony as he set up numerous panels to help him craft recommendations for the city's future administration.
But on Monday, Danatus King, the head of the New Orleans NAACP chapter, resigned from the police chief search committee. He said the search was not open or transparent enough. King criticized the committee for not releasing the names of applicants for the police chief position.
"If there's some reason that they're trying to cover up the fact that they're applying, we don't want them here," King said. "We want folks that are going to stand up and let the world know, that yes, they're interested int he position, that they're qualified for the position, and that they're submitting their application for the position."
The co-chair of Landrieu's police chief search committee, Dr. Norman Francis, Xavier University president, responded to King's statement by defending the committee's actions and saying that King is entitled to his opinions.
“The person who is going to be the chief in New Orleans is not unemployed, and they don't want their community to know that they're being looked at until it's the right time,” Francis said.
Francis said the committee is using the services of national companies which have conducted national job searches for similar positions in the past. Once the recruitment companies whittle a list of applicants down to six to 10 people, members of Landrieu's task force will be notified and receive information on the candidates, Francis said. Then they will pick their top three and release the names of the candidates to the public.
Francis said the reason the committee is not releasing the names before that step is out of respect for their current positions and current employers.