JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A Jefferson Parish consultant will stay on the job after all despite quitting Wednesday following a Lee Zurik investigation. That investigation revealed that Jefferson Parish pays consultant Josh Nemzoff $650 an hour, totaling nearly $1 million over the past 18 months, even though Nemzoff wasn't turning in detailed invoices justifying his work.
On Wednesday, Nemzoff quit after the parish attorney required him to provide more detail, but they have since come to an agreement. Nemzoff will continue advising the parish on privatization deals at East and West Jefferson hospitals. That's something Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts is not happy about.
"I didn't feel as though that it was necessary for us to continue paying him," Roberts said.
Councilman Elton Lagasse also weighed in.
"I have a resolution on the agenda to make sure before we pay him any more money that his billing is reconciled. I mean, we are dealing with people's tax money here," Lagasse said.
We wanted to know exactly what details Nemzoff will now be required to provide on his billing invoices. But the parish attorney, whose office is in charge of approving those invoices, has repeatedly denied our request for comment. We did obtain an email from parish attorney, Deborah Foshee. It was sent Thursday morning to council members after Foshee was asked to outline the new process she and Nemzoff agreed upon for him to withdraw his resignation. In it, the parish attorney only says: "There is no new process. Mr. Nemzoff has agreed to provide detailed invoices including details for the July invoice. My request for detail was the source of the original controversy."
Roberts tells FOX 8 that he had asked the parish attorney about the new agreement with Nemzoff.
"I had inquired last night as to what that meant. Who was going to be responsible for reviewing invoices? What level of detail would need to be included? And, the only response I got was simply that he's going to provide additional detail," Roberts said. "When you are paying that amount of money, we probably should be going above and beyond to ensure that every hour is accounted for."
Nemzoff told FOX 8 by phone Wednesday that he didn't need the aggravation of providing more billing details, and he claimed the parish knew he couldn't provide detailed invoices when they hired him. We also obtained an email Nemzoff sent to four council members Tuesday night. In it, he not only said he would stop working for the parish but he also had strong words for the council chairman, inspector general, parish president, and our own Lee Zurik. Nemzoff wrote: " I am going to take out my 2009 Ducati Sport Classic with the really loud Termignoni pipes and ride up to Frenchtown for an iced coffee and a doughnut and relax for a while. Chris Roberts, David McClintock, John Young, and that moron Lee Zurik can go find someone else to slander."
We reached out to Nemzoff once again Thursday for our story, but in an email he refused to talk with us, saying, "I am not going to tell you anything. Nothing personal. Josh."
Councilman Paul Johnston told FOX 8 in a statement:
"The public has a right to know how their dollars are being spent. The hospital board and the parish attorneys must hold Mr. Nemzoff accountable for the work he is doing and the rate he is being paid. I do, however, believe that Mr. Nemzoff has provided wise counsel. It is advantageous to have his expertise."