A federal judge is asking Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Marlin Gusman to try to resolve their differences about paying for the city's troubled jail. And that's the topic of this week's Commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.

Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst

By now even Sheriff Marlin Gusman should concede that Orleans Parish Prison is a hellhole. And, even Mayor Mitch Landrieu should admit that the city has to pay for the jail. If the two men just start there, maybe they can stop their bickering in and out of court.

That's the hope of federal Judge Lance Africk, who approved a consent decree calling for major improvements at the jail. Africk in effect has ruled against both the sheriff and the mayor. He says conditions at Gusman's jail are horrible. He also says City Hall has to pay for improvements though he hasn't yet decided how much.

That's where he wants Landrieu and Gusman to negotiate. He's hoping that if the mayor and the sheriff can reason together, he won't have to split the city's fiscal baby. Improving the jail will cost many millions, but the city inspector general's latest report says the jail already gets enough money to be run right.

There's enough at stake here to bring both Landrieu and Gusman to the table. In the end, they both have a lot to lose financially and politically.


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