New Orleans tightens financial controls post-Nagin

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 7:21 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Following Wednesday's guilty verdict in the trial of former Mayor Ray Nagin, many have said the "pay to play" policies of the past are no longer tolerated in the new New Orleans.

His public corruption conviction sent a strong message about Nagin and city financial controls while he served as the city's top officer.

"Just no checks, no balances, nothing to stop him from doing what he did," said New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. "But now every elected officials, every city official ought to be aware an audit of their credit card expenses is certainly possible, if not likely."

Quatravaux said there are now more eyes following the money. A jury convicted Nagin of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from city contractors.

He is also guilty of using his city of New Orleans credit card to pay for expensive hotel stays in Cancun and Atlanta and clothes and family meals at upscale restaurants. Nagin also got reimbursed for air travel by blacking out credits he received because the trips were never taken.

"I'd say it's a new day in New Orleans," said Quatrevaux. "It might be a little sad for the former mayor and his family, but it's a new day. We're not going to go back to the old ways that hurt this city so badly."

Janet Howard, president of the budget watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research, credits current Mayor Mitch Landrieu for embracing procurement reforms.

"They opened up the meetings," said Howard. "They required written scoring. They required review committees. They limited the mayor to accepting or rejecting a contract."

But according to the BGR, there is more the city can do to tighten up the procurement process and safeguard public tax dollars.

"You could take a look at extending civil service to the head of the procurement office," said Howard. "That would be one to look at. You could look again at the composition of the selection committee."

The Landrieu administration significantly reduced the number of employees with city credit cards. The list of city credit card holders includes: Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin, Deputy Mayor of Facilities Cedric Grant, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Col. Jerry Sneed, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Public Library Executive Director Charles Brown, Assistant City Librarian Charles McMorran and New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux.

 

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