Mayor, sheriff in escalating political war over management of jail

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 5 at 9:35 AM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- As Sheriff Marlin Gusman and Mayor Mitch Landrieu continue to lambaste each other over the management of the Orleans Parish Prison, it has become clear the two political heavy weights are in an all-out war.

Thursday night, two political analysts weighed in on the escalating fight.

Days after the release of a shocking jailhouse video showing inmates with drugs, beer, and a loaded gun, Gusman blamed those conditions on a lack of city funding to secure the crumbling facility, lambasting Landrieu.

“The mayor chooses to waste time with Washington-style politics and Archie Bunker rhetoric,” said Gusman.

“Within two months of the mayor's inauguration, in July [of 2010], I sent a letter to the mayor, and to the city council, describing funding shortfalls caused by the massive repairs needed to fix these crumbling buildings. I was ignored, repeatedly.”

Gusman held a press conference after testifying for more than six hours Thursday in a trial over a proposed consent decree to reform the Sheriff's Office and jail.

But while Gusman claims the city hasn't given him enough money to run the jail, Landrieu has said that Gusman simply isn’t managing his budget properly.

“It gets clearer every day that the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is not keeping the prison secure and our city safe,” said Landrieu in a statement. “That is why I am asking for receivership so corrections experts can run the jail in a safe, secure and fiscally responsible way. I cannot in good conscience cut vital services or raise taxes to put even more money into an office where waste, fraud, and abuse run rampant.”

Tensions continue to mount between the two political heavy weights. Landrieu said the city doesn't have enough money to fund the consent decree, while Gusman said the decree is not necessary.

Political experts weighed in.

“What universe is [Gusman] living in? It made me wonder if he was channeling former Mayor Ray Nagin for a little while.” said Eyewitness News Political Analyst Clancy DuBos. “He has a motorcycle troop and mounted patrol and all these other things, but he can't keep prisoners in the jail? I think it's more of a management problem.”

“They need to try to work this out, they may need a mediator, but cooler heads must prevail because the public is concerned about safety,” said Dr. Silas Lee, pollster and sociologist.

In the midst of the political rhetoric, it will be up to a federal judge whether to approve the consent decree and potentially, a federal receiver to manage the jail.

 

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