NEW ORLEANS — The developers of a major downtown hotel project are contradicting claims by the city of New Orleans that one of the city’s building inspectors failed to show up for an April inspection.
After a WWL-TV investigation showed city building inspector Julie Tweeter’s vehicle didn’t come close to the Hard Rock Hotel on days when she claimed to inspect it, the city moved to fire her for falsifying at least eight inspection reports at three downtown high-rises.
In addition to the Hard Rock Hotel, which collapsed just days after Tweeter allegedly failed to show up while approving a final concrete pour, Tweeter allegedly failed to show up at the Four Season Hotel and Residences at the old World Trade Center tower and the Odeon tower, a new 29-story building that just topped out at South Market.
A spokeswoman for Carpenter + Woodward, the joint venture developing the Four Seasons project, confirmed Thursday that Tweeter didn’t show up for an inspection April 3, which is one of the dates that city officials allege she filed a report without actually going to the construction site.
Instead, that spokeswoman, Glenda McKinley, said the project superintendent “complied with (Tweeter's) request to email photos,” a request that appears to be in violation of city policy.
McKinley said the developer’s files indicate Tweeter did show up for an in-person inspection two days earlier, on April 1. If Tweeter conducted an inspection that day, it would directly contradict one of the allegations made by Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration on Monday.
The dispute over the April 1 inspection is just the latest potential inconsistency in the city’s allegations against Tweeter that were detailed in a suspension letter initially sent Feb. 20 by Cantrell’s top deputy, Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano.
Montano amended some of the allegations made against Tweeter and fellow inspectors Eric Treadaway and Thomas Dwyer and sent new letters Feb. 21.
Montano’s initial suspension letter to Tweeter did not include Oct. 1, a day when Tweeter filed a report approving the pouring of concrete on the rooftop of the 18-story Hard Rock, but GPS records reviewed by WWL-TV showed Tweeter’s city vehicle went nowhere near the construction site on that day.
In response to questions related to the inspection on that date, the city reissued Tweeter’s suspension letter, this time including Oct. 1. It also removed March 29 as another day it alleged Tweeter falsified an inspection.
The city declined to comment about the additional discrepancies Thursday.
Tweeter’s attorney also declined to comment.
Tweeter and Treadaway, who was also suspended last week for allegedly falsifying inspections at the Hard Rock and Four Seasons projects, are set to respond to the allegations at Civil Service Commission hearings next month.
McKinley, the Four Seasons project spokeswoman, and Darren Williams, construction director for the Odeon project, both said they had private engineers approving every concrete pour.
They both said they are confident that any skipped city inspections would not have compromised the safety of their structures.