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Help Still Wanted
Mayor Ray Nagin last month said he wanted to beef up the understaffed city Office of Municipal Investigation. Slim chance that will happen, with annual budget hearings approaching. Plus, by late last week, only three people had applied for a vacant "special agent" job at OMI (annual salary: $28,173), civil service officials say.

OMI investigates complaints of wrongdoing against all city employees, including police. OMI director RoseMaria Broussard says she needs seven agents but could settle for five; presently, only two investigators handle some 188 cases. The optimal ratio is 20 cases per investigator, Broussard says. Civil service has extended its deadline for applications to Sept. 27.

Judge Returns $180K
In the middle of an Aug. 29 fundraiser at the Le Cirque Hotel, Civil Court Judge Roland Belsome learned that his lone opponent in the Oct. 5 primary election, Wayne E. Woods, had dropped out of the race. Belsome had received commitments of $200,000 in campaign contributions; he returned $180,000 in checks "on the spot" to some 40 campaign contributors, a campaign aide said.

A grand gesture? Time -- and future campaign finance reports -- should tell. Belsome's campaign had $126,493 on hand July 8, according to his latest campaign finance report. The campaign has both raised and spent thousands of dollars on mailers and other campaign expenses since then, sources say. Because campaign reports overlap, a clearer picture of what's left in the judge's coffers may not be available for several months.

Within six months of participating in an election, all judges and judicial candidates [in Orleans Parish] must return any "unused campaign contributions [in excess of $150,000] by pro rata refund to the campaign contributors or by donation to a charitable organization," according to Sec. E of Canon 7. Any judge or judicial candidates who fails to comply with the rule may face disciplinary action. After all bills are paid, the Belsome campaign expects to retain "around $90,000," a source said -- a number well within the rules.

Dressed Up
Alex Garfield will be the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Morning Call for Success at 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel's Cabildo Rooms A, B and C. Garfield is not only an entrepreneur and designer but also a philanthropist, and his GM Design Group is known for its KENAR, Womyn and Plaeinair brands. The benefit breakfast helps raise money for the Dress for Success course for welfare-to-work women; tickets and sponsorships range from $40 to $2,500 and are available by calling 569-8467.

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