Slow Friday no more.
From a press release received just minutes ago:
New Orleans, LA – James Perry, as a taxpayer in good standing, filed a request for a preliminary injunction today against the Nagin Administration in Civil District Court.
James Perry, New Orleans Mayoral Candidate: “My hope with today’s filing of a request for preliminary injunction is that the court will act expeditiously to halt the abuse of power by the Nagin Administration by awarding contracts in violation of the City’s Home Rule Charter.”
“As a private citizen I have serious concerns when my government begins to operate outside of its governing charter and without regard or respect for the rule of law,” said Perry. “The City Charter expressly prohibits any city department or agency with the exception of the Sewerage & Water Board, Civil Service Department, the Public Belt Railroad Commission and the Board of Liquidation from the hiring of special counsel without the approval of two-thirds of the New Orleans City Council.”
“I say enough is enough with this use of semantics and creative interpretation by the Nagin Administration to justify the awarding of contracts in violation of the city charter.”
This, the latest lawsuit against the Mayor for abuse of power, comes as a result of the recent contracts totaling $660,000 given to outside law firms. The firms have been retained to help the Mayor fend off prior lawsuits against his administration.
If you've been paying attention to this unfolding drama, you may have noticed a little foreshadowing hidden not-so-subtly in David Hammer's Wednesday article in the T-P.
Mr. James Perry has stepped up to be that citizen in what is conveniently, also a pretty smart political move for a guy that hasn't even been able to get his name in the paper when his campaign HQ is just missed by stray bullets from a gun battle.
David Marcello, who served as executive counsel to Mayor Dutch Morial and who chaired a committee that revised the charter in 1995, said there are only two categories of city lawyers established in the charter: those in the City Attorney's Office and "special counsel." Those categories have not changed since the charter was adopted in 1954, he said.
"There's no functional difference between special counsel and outside counsel," Marcello said.
Sal Anzelmo, who served as city attorney under Dutch Morial, agreed.
"That's like saying 'and' and 'also' are different; it's ridiculous to make those kinds of statements," Anzelmo said. "I think when you read that charter, there's no question -- it's not even debatable -- that the council has to approve outside counsel."
City Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson, who signed a letter Tuesday calling on the council's lawyer to review the practice and consider legal remedies, is likewise skeptical.
"You can argue semantics all day long, but this is obviously a violation of the intent of the charter," she said.
Marcello said the clearest way to settle the question would be for a citizen to file a lawsuit in Civil District Court.