New Orleans Inspector General

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ethics Review Board statement on Cerasoli resignation

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 3:04 PM

I just got off the phone with Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University and chairman of the Ethics Review Board of New Orleans. Here's his official statement on the resignation of Robert Cerasoli:

January 30, 2009

For personal reasons of health, Robert A. Cerasoli has resigned as the Inspector General for the City of New Orleans. On behalf of myself and the other members of the New Orleans Ethics Review Board, we are profoundly grateful to Bob for his tireless work in establishing this office, hiring outstanding staff, and moving the office forward.

Bob’s pioneering work in the establishment of this office has made a lasting contribution to the quality of life for all citizens of New Orleans. We are most fortunate to have had such an experienced man with such high standards of integrity to serve as the city’s first inspector general. We respect Bob’s decision and his right to privacy with regard to medical matters. That said, we wish him well in his continued medical treatment and pray for his speedy and complete recovery.

As chairman of the Ethics Review Board, I am authorized to appoint an interim inspector general from among senior staff in the office. (See City Code, Chapter 2, Article XIII, Section 9-1120 entitled "Office of Inspector General, #3 “Appointment.”)

I have asked Leonard C. Odom, First Assistant for Criminal Investigations, to serve as interim inspector general. Leonard's career as an inspector general is long and distinguished.

He has more than 30 years of experience in management; income tax and internal affairs investigations; knowledge of financial, performance and compliance audits; fraud, political corruption and contractor fraud investigations; internal safety and security; ethics programs and general investigations.

Leonard is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Inspectors General and has served as its president for the past two years. Previously, he has served as Inspector General for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA); Regional Inspector General of Investigations for the U.S. Department of Treasury; and Assistant Chief, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Most recently, he served in the Inspector General’s Office of Washington, D.C. as Assistant Inspector General for Investigations.

The New Orleans Ethics Review Board will begin a national search immediately to fill the position of City Inspector General. As the ordinance specifies, we will only consider someone who is a Certified Inspector General.

We are confident that the sound foundation built by Bob Cerasoli will be capably administered by Interim Inspector General Leonard Odom, and that the transition in the continuing operations of the Office of Inspector General will be seamless.

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Bob Cerasoli has resigned

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 5:13 AM

...effective immediately.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

What some say

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 11:47 PM

There is also an amusing, appalling dissection of the way Fox uses the phrase "some say," as in "some say Senator Kerry has a tendency to flip-flop," not to cloak a source but to camouflage a statement of opinion.

-- The New York Times, reviewing the documentary Outfoxed

Anyone who has seen Outfoxed, Robert Greenwald's documentary about Fox News Channel, knows about the "some say" canard. Desiring to air an opinion but have it play as "straight" reporting, a Fox anchor will preface it, "Some say...," turning whatever follows into a discussion of a position, rather than an advocacy of it.

-- Conde Nast Portfolio's Mixed Media column

Inspector General Robert Cerasoli has ordered thousands of dollars of weaponry and ammunition for investigators in his office.

"The office is a law enforcement office by ordinance and by state law," Cerasoli said.

In the first special session of the state legislature in 2008, lawmakers passed HB-80. The legislation says in part that: A municipality may designate the office of inspector general as a law enforcement agency ... and confer upon the office all investigative powers and privileges given to a law enforcement agency.

As such, the inspector general has ordered pistols and ammunition, handcuffs, leg irons and tactical entry tools....

Newschannel 6 has talked to some in the law enforcement community who were surprised by Cerasoli's purchases. Some even said that the weaponry and spending is unnecessary.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Being Bob Cerasoli: Web extra quotes

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 11:35 PM

This week's cover story, "Being Bob Cerasoli," left out a lot of thoughts from New Orleans' first-ever inspector general. Here are some of Cerasoli's quotes that didn't make the final cut (taken straight from the transcript):

On New Orleans' use, or misuse, of federal funds:

There are enormous amounts of federal money that are being used here that you could be using now, in the last four years, to educate, to have schools. They could have got together with the AFL-CIO. I even had this conversation with the head of the AFL-CIO trust fund who’s here from BostonI said, “Why aren’t they taking a portion of this money, using it to educate New Orleans youth, at-risk youth in the city of New Orleans?” And the projects that are left here have to use these youth that are educated with these funds to get the experience to build their own lives.

It’s a very simple thing. The money’s here now. It’s gonna be used over the next 10 years. Why isn’t anyone thinking this way? No, they’re not. They’re giving out all these contracts to all these people who aren’t from here, and none of the people that are here are going to benefit from this money.

It blows my mind. It’s absolutely… I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. But I can’t… I’m an IG. I’ve gotta look at the stuff here. I’ve gotta find out what they’re doing with this money. But that would make sense to me. It would be a generation, truly, truly. If they took 1,000 youths from the inner city here, then did that, that alone would help transform a generation here....

There are kids here who are never gonna go to college. And if you want to put them on the same street corner with the drug dealer, and say, “Hey, I’m giving you a choice. You can do that, and end up dead like a lot of people you know; or you can do this, become an electrician or a plumber, and eventually, look, own your own business like those people there, and live in a secure environment, and have all the things you want.” Then at least you’re giving a choice, an option. You’re displaying that there is some public will to change things here.

But I don’t see that happening. I don’t see anyone stepping to the fore and doing that. And I understand. There are a lot of people that are engaged in the business community, there are a lot of non-profits that are engaged. But it’s not up to them; it’s up to the government. This attitude here, of putting everything into the hands of non-profits to do, instead of having the government do, has gotta end.

The government has to stand up for its responsibility. And that will initially, by the way, be counter-intuitive. It’s counter-intuitive. For us to go public and say, “We want to take all of the government and put it under the mayor and the council,” people might step back right now and say, “Oh, God, I don’t want to do that.” But in the future, you have to, because there’s no accountability here, there’s no “the buck stops here, it’s our responsibility, how come this isn’t being done?”

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