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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cantrell plans 'reorganization' at City Hall, transition team working on details and agenda

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:10 PM

click to enlarge Cantrell's transition advisory board co-chairs Kathleen Kennedy and Matt Wisdom.
  • Cantrell's transition advisory board co-chairs Kathleen Kennedy and Matt Wisdom.

The transition team helping build out the agenda for New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell is halfway through its meeting schedule, but details about what those recommendations look like and who will head up the new administration are still coming into shape. Recommendations from the team's 22 subcommittees are due May 3.

Cantrell plans to eliminate the deputy mayor system implemented by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, but a replacement system hasn't been set. Speaking at an update from Cantrell's transition team Forward Together New Orleans Feb. 28, advisory board co-chair Matt Wisdom said Cantrell has begun a "reorganization of the municipal government."

"There are a lot of ways to structure the ways senior staff will report to the mayor-elect," Wisdom said. "I don't think we're able to explain more until we actually are ready to release what that structure is."

Landrieu's deputy mayor system installed several high-ranking staffers to oversee public safety, the city's finance department, external affairs and other arms of the mayor's office.

Cantrell's administration will begin national searches for the CAO and CFO, but Cantrell will wait for a recommendation on a new police chief before she decides whether to begin a national search for that position, according to transition communications director Mason Harrison. Cantrell hasn't set a timeline for filling roughly 100 positions for her City Hall, but the team says it has received about 250 resumes to fill them.
About six people from what began as a 190-member transition team have left their positions following concerns over members signing nondisclosure agreements preventing them from speaking publicly about the meetings.

Each subcommittee has held two of five meetings — the first meetings included member introductions, talking through issues and information, and narrowing ideas. Ultimately, those recommendations will provide "a road map for the top priorities in the administration" to serve as a basis in a final report, Wisdom said. Once in office, the Cantrell administration will issue quarterly benchmark reports on its progress implementing those recommendations.

The transition team also is considering holding a public forum, though it hasn't yet developed any plans for one.

Starting next week (March 5), the team will begin releasing biweekly surveys to give residents an opportunity to give feedback on city services and other issues. The first survey will be on the 3-1-1 system, which will ask "not only is it working but what's the best utility [for it]," Harrison said. "What are we missing, what are we not doing?"

The team hasn't released how or where those surveys will be released — advisory board co-chair Kathleen Kennedy said specific questions haven't been worked out yet. Harrison says the team wants to be able to capture the greatest audience and realizes online and social media surveys have a limited reach.

Among some of the ideas floated by transition committees are putting in place a tiered parking payment plan to help "reduce the cost of living in New Orleans," Harrison said, to help reduce the number of "everyday nickel and diming" fees for residents.

Committees also have looked at changes to bus routes, ways to reduce wait times for bus services, and how riders pay for bus rides. A technology subcommittee is looking at using tech to build better access to public services and improve the city's one-stop shop for permitting.
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