Supreme Court issues a stay; mayor avoids house arrest for now

Supreme Court issues a stay; mayor avoids house arrest for now

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After the City of New Orleans filed petitions with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and Louisiana State Supreme Court Friday afternoon to delay a house arrest order for the mayor, the appeals court denied the request but the Supreme Court issued a stay. This means that Mayor Mitch Landrieu avoids house arrest for now.

The mayor will speak outside City Hall at 5:30 p.m.

Attorneys for Landrieu made the last-ditch effort to block the weekend house arrest order. He had been ordered to come up with a way to pay firefighters $75 million in back pay by 5 p.m. today or face house arrest.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese held the city in contempt over the money battle early this week.

Landrieu said that he was willing to be put under house arrest for the rest of his term as mayor. He said he believes firefighters should be paid, but said it shouldn't be at the expense of city services and the residents of New Orleans.

Years before Landrieu became the mayor, millions of dollars were found to have been misappropriated from the New Orleans fire department pension fund.

The NOFD said they want to be paid now, in a lump sum, even though some firefighters were given an automatic two percent pay raise which was meant to pay back the missing money over time.

The mayor said that is the only way to make right by the firefighters without the rest of the city suffering.

New Orleans firefighters are not the only ones in the city owed money, pointing to a list that shows $34 million dollars in unpaid judgments against the city made by taxpayers.

Landrieu said if he pays out millions of dollars to firefighters, layoffs could follow and taxpayers would share the pain.

"You can't pay it all at one time to one group of people and shut down everything else. And the firefighter pension guys just found a judge who's been willing to push the envelope legally and say, 'No, I'm going to do something that no judge in America has ever done and put the mayor in jail.'  So, let's be clear about this. This is not about me. This is the judiciary, securing the executive branch of government. That's what this is," Landrieu said.

But firefighters disagree.

"It can be done, the city has the money. They admitted that they have the money, they just don't want to pay it," said firefighters union president Nick Felton.

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