Friday, January 30, 2009

The Rev. Kevin Wildes: "Bob cannot do something halfway, and he just felt as if he couldn’t give the job his full attention."

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

The Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University and head of the city's Ethics Review Board, sounded philosophical this morning about the resignation of Robert Cerasoli, the city's first Inspector General, who is stepping down immediately due to health reasons. (For more on Cerasoli and his health issues, see The Gambit's cover story of Jan. 12, "Being Bob Cerasoli.")

On Dec. 23, while visiting family for Christmas, Cerasoli underwent surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham, Mass., to have some tissue removed from his neck: one a sebaceous cyst, the other a "growth the size of a lemon." ("I can verify this," he wrote in an email at the time, "because I asked to see it after it was removed.") The growth was taken for biopsy.

"Some stuff came back that was good," said Wildes, "and in the process they discovered some other things. Bob cannot do something halfway, and he just felt as if he couldn’t give the job his full attention and do the job the way it needs to be done."

Cerasoli is leaving New Orleans immediately and heading back to his hometown of Quincy, Mass. His first assistant, Leonard Odom, has been appointed in the interim while Wildes and the ethics review board begin a search for a permanent inspector general. Wildes called Odom "incredibly qualified."

On a personal level, Wildes says Cerasoli's resignation is hard to take: "We do have a personal relationship. And I'm not blowing smoke when I say that we are so much better off now than we were two years ago, when this would have been unthinkable.

"Look, I’m not Mary Poppins," Wildes added. "When i look at the staffing in the office and the people who are doing the work, I'm confident every investigation is going to continue. I’m more upset and concerned about Bob than I am about the office. He’s built us a great organization."

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