Friday, November 21, 2008

Cerasoli and City Council

First, refer to Michelle Krupa's article for the T-P.

Mr. Cerasoli actually gave money back to the general fund, unable to spend all of his 2008 budget.

Part of the reason for that is the bureaucratic holdups that continue to gum up his ability to fully engage his office. For instance, the city has not yet delivered secure computers. Computers. He's also had trouble navigating the civil service rules in order to hire his desired staff.


But there's something really fun about watching Cerasoli and Council interact with each other that you'd need to see in person to really understand.

Council learned the news that the IG would be returning money to the city. Then Cerasoli outlined a couple of new initiatives, including a tipline and some new hires. It's not so unlike most other presentations, except for the confidece and competence.

Then Council gets to ask questions.

It started off normally. Councilman Carter, recently found alive and returned to his parents, asked some good questions about the independent police monitor. Then Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Arnie Fielkow went back and forth about establishing a protocol for calling on Mr. Cerasoli to lend official comment, since now the office receives requests from Councilors haphazardly.

But it becomes clear that all of the Councilors want to ask questions about this process or that process. They want to know what he thinks about the budget process.

Because it is absolutely ridiculous to present Council a budget outlined with hundreds of pages of supporting data and expect them to be able to properly evaluate it, modify it, and pass it on a time frame of three or four weeks.

Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, for instance, wore this exasperated look on her face that told it all. She's the chair of the budget committee, and it looked like she just wanted Cerasoli to come up and give her a big hug and a hot chocolate.

Councilwoman Stacy Head lifted up her budget binder, at least two inches thick, and just nodded.

Inspector General Cerasoli couldn't do much more at these moments than flash a bemused and knowing smile. He agreed that the budget process was extremely outdated. The schedule is such that the Council has its back against the wall to pretty much just pass whatever the Mayor puts in front of them. There just isn't enough time to fully vet every department or modify the Mayor's proposals before something just needs to be passed.

Plus, Cerasoli explained, Council really doesn't have all the tools it needs to do a good job anyway: (paraphrasing)

"There isn't, to my knowledge, a list for you that includes every contract the city is entered in."


UPDATE: You can see some of what I'm talking about in clips from this WWL report.



Cerasoli should have a report or two ready for the public soon, too.

And he says hello to 'the bloggers'. Another coffee talk might be forthcoming.


Leigh C. said...

Woohoo! Another coffe tawk! I would love that! No big whoop, right?

oyster said...

I hate to bring this up, but doesn't this return of funds lend some credence to Nagin's budgetary position that the IG didn't need to be fully funded in his first year because he wouldn't be up and running immediately?

E said...

Don't hate to bring it up. A discussion of that might be quite revealing.

Why do you think Nagin believed Cerasoli's office would not be able to get up and running?

Who does Cerasoli depend on to complete such painstaking and time-consuming tasks as ordering and delivering computers, setting up phone lines, or processing civil service requirements?

The Mayor hates to be wrong, you know.

It has taken well over a year for the executive to set up computers for the office of IG.

Schroeder said...

I answered Oyster's question similarly here:

mominem said...

We should get Cersoli to Buffa's again.