NEW ORLEANS — Early voting for the November 8 election begins next Tuesday.
New Orleans voters will, among other items, cast ballots on a citywide proposition that would require the city council to confirm the mayor’s top appointees.
“This does represent a momentous shift in New Orleans towards having more accountability for department heads,” City Councilman At large J.P. Morrell said. “We’ve been doing things the same way for decades with the same results.”
Bishop Tom Watson, from Watson Teaching Ministries Uptown, is an outspoken critic of the charter change.
“There’s a big tug-of-war going on between the mayor and primarily the two council persons at large,” Watson said. “It is a power grab. There’s no other way to put it.”
The non-partisan Bureau of Governmental Research endorsed the amendment – but suggested the council further define how the confirmation process would work.
BGR President Becky Mowbray says the council would be another set of eyes on the appointment of people who will actually be running city government.
“It would be a chance to ask them about their vision for the department and make sure they understood the job, understood New Orleans,” Mowbray said.
Morrell says confirmation hearings would put the public in the driver’s seat when it comes to mayoral appointees.
“Crime, fire, streets, infrastructure, don’t you want to know who these people are before they get these jobs and have complete control over aspects of your lives?”
Bishop Watson says the amendment blurs the separation of power between the executive and legislative branches of city government.
“I think it would be one of the biggest hindrances to what I want to call good, effective leadership,” Watson said.
If approved by voters, the charter change would take effect in January.