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Unfinished Business
State Rep. Karen Carter had just gotten to the part of her acceptance speech about race-baiting as a response to her education reform bill when School Board president Cheryl Mills rose and left the room.

The bill in question was LA 1659, the proposal that, as Act 193, gives Orleans Parish Schools superintendent Anthony Amato unprecedented power. The occasion was the annual Alliance for Good Government dinner held at the Radisson Hotel on Aug. 7. And the honor Carter accepted was the "Legislator of the Year" award bestowed by the five Alliance chapters in metro New Orleans.

Two weeks later, at the first of two planned Alliance for Good Government-sponsored debates at Axel's (3900 Tulane Ave.), Mills said that she left the event to accompany her elderly mother home -- not to make a statement about Carter's reform bill. Not that she felt positively about the Carter bill, she pointed out. In a conversation after her debate with challenger Heidi Lovett Daniels, she opined that the bill was not helpful and that it had come at a terrible time.

Timing was a theme in Mills' debate answers, which stressed that the board had "unfinished business." The Alliance, however, decided that her business with the board was finished after all. At the end of the night, Daniels took home the endorsement -- hardly a surprising result for a group that had given Carter a standing ovation two weeks before.

Carter, in fact, was present in the back of the hall last Tuesday before the District 1 debate, as was board incumbent Una Anderson, who doesn't debate for the endorsement until the Alliance's second school board debate at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23, also at Axel's. (Candidates for Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7 will debate.) Meanwhile, off to one side, District 3 incumbent Jimmy Fahrenholtz slipped from his briefcase a bumper sticker bearing his new slogan: "Fahrenholtz 9/18." -- LeGardeur

Criminal Court Judges Fined
The Louisiana Ethics Commission is moving to collect thousands of dollars in fines from two New Orleans Criminal Court judges and the No. 2 lawyer in the city.

Judge Lynda Van Davis owes $5,600 in late fees for four tardy campaign finance disclosure reports from her election to the bench last fall, according to ethics board records. "I sent a letter today (Aug. 19) stating we will start garnishing her wages if she doesn't pay by Sept. 19," Alesia Mottle, staff attorney for the ethics board, says. In addition, the judge faces an additional $2,500 for failing to file a fifth report that has been due since Dec. 29, says Mottle. The ethics board last month declined a request for leniency by Nile J. Vincent, a representative for the judge's campaign. A spokesperson for the judge's campaign could not be reached at press time. Van Davis, a former assistant U.S. Attorney and a veteran of nine previous political campaigns, won election to the bench in the Nov. 15 general election.

Van Davis' run-off opponent, New Orleans Chief Deputy City Attorney Franz Zibilich, reportedly owes $3,600 in fines for late campaign reports from the same campaign. "He has until Sept. 19 to pay or the ethics board will file suit in the 19th Judicial District Court here in Baton Rouge," says Mottle. Records show it's the second time Zibilich, a locally renowned trial attorney, has run afoul of the ethics board. Last year, Zibilich paid $4,500 in fines for tardy reports from his unsuccessful campaign for district attorney in 2002. Zibilich could not be reached for comment by presstime.

Criminal Court Judge Darryl Derbigny has until Sept. 13 to pay a $2,500 fine for admittedly filing a campaign report 72 days late. The ethics board recently declined the judge's request for leniency. In a letter dated June 30, Derbigny, who was elected in 2002, blamed the "unfortunate oversight" on "miscommunication" with his campaign committee. "Because of the substantial burdens involved in my judicial responsibilities, I did not give this matter the oversight and attention it deserved," the judge wrote. Meanwhile, judges and candidates for judicial seats in the Sept. 18 elections can get up to speed on campaign do's and don'ts this week. On Monday, Aug. 23, ethics board officials and the Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee -- a panel created by the Louisiana Supreme Court -- will host a joint seminar to educate judges and judicial candidates about "ethical campaign conduct." The seminar will be at 5:30 p.m. in the 4th floor conference room of the new Supreme Court building (400 Royal St.). The event is free and open to the public. -- Johnson

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