Penya Moses-Fields

The New Orleans city attorney has denied a public-records request from The Lens that seeks every contract that leaves the Law Office to be signed by a contractor, on the same day it leaves the office.

The state’s public-records law requires that records be made immediately available if they’re not in active use. The goal of the request is to examine what the city is about to sign.

In denying the request, City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields said the public-records law doesn’t let anyone make a standing, daily request, or to request records that have not been created. And besides, she said, the request wasn’t specific enough and complying with it would “unreasonably impact” her office.

The Lens will continue to pursue the contracts and release updates as they occur.

Moses-Fields has already made it clear that she’s willing to make public such a pending contract. Earlier this month, the New Orleans City Council was trying to understand the Inspector General’s objections to a Nagin Administration proposal that would radically reinvent and renovate the city’s Municipal Auditorium.

They brought IG Ed Quatrevaux and Moses-Fields to the microphones. The IG reiterated his contention that the contract he’d read was a poor deal for the city. Moses-Fields countered by explaining that Quatrevaux had gotten his hands on an early draft of the contract that in no way represented what would be the final deal.

Council member at large Jackie Clarkson asked the obvious question: When can we see the final contract? That was really what the discussion – and public interest – was all about.

Moses-Fields said she’d send over a copy when it was finished by her office and before the developer signed it.

Request from The Lens for pending city contracts

City’s denial of contract request

Steve Beatty

Steve Beatty is the publisher and chief executive officer of The Lens. He worked as an editor for The Times-Picayune for 15 years, leaving New Orleans just before Katrina to take a position as an editor...