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N.O. City Council reinstates ousted HANO board member

The Mayor’s office says Cantrell removed Jasper on behalf of the other HANO board members, saying they are the ones who sought her removal.

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans City Council is allowing an outspoken critic of the city’s housing authority to continue serving on its board of commissioners. Sharon Jasper was reinstated to the HANO board Tuesday during a special meeting. The council voted 5-0 in favor of reinstating her. The vote comes after Mayor LaToya Cantrell removed Jasper from her position earlier this month.

The Mayor’s office says Cantrell removed Jasper on behalf of the other HANO board members, saying they are the ones who sought her removal.

“The HANO board are the ones who came to the mayor and expressed their disappointment in Ms. Jasper and asked her with her authority to remove Ms. Jasper from the board. That is what the HANO board did. This is not a mayoral decision, this is not a decision the mayor made,” Gregory Joseph, the Mayor’s Director of Communication, said Wednesday. “It’s a working relationship with the board and it’s a great working relationship. This is how all boards operate and the board members came to the Mayor and raised important concerns and the Mayor acted on them.”

 The city council says they reinstated Jasper yesterday because the Mayor did not provide any grounds for ousting her, which is required by law. The council says Mayor Cantrell provided notice of removal, without any reasons.

“I think that’s a city council interpretation. The actual statute doesn’t say anything about details or more facts. It says you need to have reasons and they had their reasons in the letter,  so the city council interprets the law in a different manner than the city attorney and our office did,”  Joseph said.

In a statement released by the HANO board Tuesday after the City Council’s decision, board members say they are “very disappointed” in Jasper’s reinstatement. The letter goes on to call Jasper’s behavior unbecoming and escalating. In the statement, HANO’s Board of Commissioner’s President, Executive Director and other senior HANO leaders say Jasper has “incited aggression, intimidation and threats against the agency’s employees and other board members by members of the public.”

Community members and supporters of Jasper say there’s a reason for their frustrations.

“You need to find out why they’re disorderly. They have been through the mill they have gone through every step HANO has told them to go through to file a complaint to get a resolution and they have been mocked, they have been slandered, they have been done everything but given justice in a process they are told they should follow,” W.C. Johnson, President of Community United for Change said Wednesday. “By the time they get to the board of commissioners meeting they are like a stick of dynamite with the fuse lit ready to go off.”

The Mayor’s office says they hope all parties can show respect towards one another. Joseph says they are respecting and abiding by the council’s decision at this time.

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