Zurik: New Orleans considers search for new inspector general

Zurik: New Orleans considers search for new inspector general

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux may be losing his job. As we first reported Tuesday night, the board responsible for hiring the IG wants to look for other candidates for the job.

"None of this makes sense to me," Quatrevaux says.  Based on what's transpired so far, he tells us, he has little shot at keeping the job.

The Ethics Review Board will consider at its Monday meeting whether to hire a search firm to evaluate possible candidates for the office, which has wide-ranging powers to investigate the many divisions of city government.

"It doesn't add up," he says. "You hire the person that's responsible for keeping an eye on waste, and they're about to throw away over $100,000 on a national search.  It's a waste because they say it could be me. That's not a wise way to approach this."

Just last year, the Ethics Review Board gave Quatrevaux a 3.5 percent raise.

"It wasn't just that they gave me a raise in February," he says. "They praised the office."

Now they may be looking for a replacement, to see if someone better is out there.

"Have you ever heard anyone say that before?" Quatrevaux wonders.  "It makes no sense at all. The way it's done elsewhere, you don't need a search firm, a headhunter firm. As far as I know, there was no headhunter when I hired."

The chair of the Ethics Review Board declined our request for an interview, but in an email told us that "We have an obligation to the citizens of New Orleans to ensure they have the best possible representation in the Office of Inspector General."

Though the board wants to see who else is out there, it has also suggested to Quatrevaux that he reapply.

Quatrevaux says his office is able to track who opens and essentially reads the reports and letters that his office issues. Last year the OIG emailed 14 such reports. According to their tracking system, Ethics Review Board members opened just 10 percent of these reports. That suggests that they didn't look at some 90 percent of the inspector general's reports.

Quatrevaux's term expires in October, the same month New Orleans will elect a new mayor.

"This is the worst possible timing," he says. "What you don't want, number one, is you don't want an IG or an OIG to become a campaign issue.  And when my term ends in October, we're going to be in the middle of a campaign for city council and mayor."

Quatrevaux says his greatest success in his seven years on the job may be at the airport, where he opened a satellite office. Years ago, Quatrevaux referred to the airport as a pit of corruption.

"We cut $26.5 million in corruption from the airport's bottom line," he says. "That money allowed them to lower the landing fees, which attracted all the new airlines and destinations. And that's what airlines look at. And we also saved a million and a half in some investigations."

Quatrevaux says he wants to keep his job, and he has a few more places he'd like to straighten out if he does - beginning with the Sewerage and Water Board.

The Ethics Review Board will decide if that happens.

The board chair did tell us by email Wednesday he doesn't think the cost of the search will reach $50,000. He also says board members receive executive summaries and descriptions of OIG reports prior to their release, and the board gets detailed briefings at every meeting.

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