City Inspector General plans to review the use of hotel/motel taxes…more

September 11 2009 | Latest News
New Orleans' incoming inspector general needs to recharge the office

Posted by The Times-Picayune editorial page staff September 11, 2009 12:42AM

Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans incoming Inspector General Edouard Quatrevaux.

In a city with as much government waste and inefficiency as New Orleans, residents were hopeful when the City Council finally filled the post of inspector general in 2007.

But the office's image has taken hits because of its slow start, its change of leadership this year and the flawed process Interim Inspector General Leonard Odom conducted to name the city's first police monitor.

That means incoming Inspector General Edouard Quatrevaux, selected after a nationwide search, must improve the office's productivity and repair the post's public image.

Mr. Odom has said he is leaving the office no later than Oct. 9 -- and that's a welcome move. The process he oversaw to name Neely Moody as the first independent police monitor was brief, limited in scope and so devoid of community involvement that it undermined public trust in the inspector general's office.

The office already had been hobbled by a lack of initial resources from City Hall and the sudden resignation of Robert Cerasoli, the first inspector general, who left in January for health reasons.

It also has gotten off to a slow start. Since its inception, it has released only a handful of reports. Those include important findings, such as allegations of waste and violations of law regarding the city's take-home vehicle policy and a finding that the Nagin administration overpaid contractors by $4 million for crime cameras.

But New Orleanians expected more results by now.

Mr. Odom recently said the office plans to complete about a dozen audits and inspections next year. They include reviews on the use of hotel/motel taxes, (emphasis added by GNOHLA) city sanitation fees, Municipal Court fines and charges paid by the city to the Criminal Sheriff's Office for housing prison inmates.

Mr. Quatrevaux needs to aggressively pursue that agenda and make the office more productive. New Orleanians are dedicating more than $3 million a year to this office -- and they deserve a good return for their investment.