Government & Politics

NORD Commission again stumbles over Open Meetings Act, delays decision

By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

A subcommittee of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission aiming to appoint a new chief executive adjourned a meeting this afternoon without taking any action, after activist attorney Tracie Washington raised fresh concerns about whether the subcommittee had followed public meetings law.

Two city councilwomen have now also said publicly that they favor an outside candidate for chief executive, while Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he thinks the existing interim director at the agency, Vic Richard, is doing a good job.

Attorney Tracie Washington makes a point about public meetings law at tonight’s meeting. Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s press secretary Ryan Berni looks on (left). Photo by Matt Davis.

Ongoing concerns about openness in the recruitment process come as members of the recreation commission have fought to counter suggestions that Landrieu is pulling the commission’s strings, with the commission’s role in selecting a new recreation leader seen as pivotal in establishing its independence.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry attended tonight’s meeting, urging the subcommittee to comply with the wishes of  “74 percent of people who voted, voted overwhelmingly for change, for a new NORD.”

Councilwoman Stacy Head said in a phone interview with The Lens Tuesday that she thought there is “no contest” in the recruitment process, and that the “clear choice” for a new chief executive is former pro football player Reggie Williams.

One finalist for the job dropped out last week, saying he believes that the commission will choose Richard, even though it spent $42,000 on a headhunter to conduct a national search. Charlene Braud and Wanda Durden are also still in the running for the job. Braud runs the recreation department in Atlanta, and Durden is a technology executive who once ran the recreation department in Baltimore.

Update, 10:45 p.m.: The next paragraph has been corrected slightly.

Today’s subcommittee meeting was adjourned after Washington raised concerns about language on the agenda. The subcommittee, as planned, went planned to go into executive session to discuss the four candidates. When they emerged from executive session, they also planned to vote on narrowing the list, they said, yet there was no language on the meeting’s agenda to reflect such a move.

“It doesn’t say anything on the agenda about any vote,” Washington said. “You have got to give the public notice if you are going to take an action like that.”

At the suggestion of Landrieu’s Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin, the subcommittee briefly considered making an emergency change to its agenda to include such a vote, but that would have needed to be unanimous under the state’s Open Meetings Act, and subcommittee member Bobby Garon suggested instead that the group adjourn and reschedule.

“I’d prefer to give up another hour to attend another meeting in which the proper notice is given,” Garon said.

The law requires public bodies to post agendas for meetings 24 hours before they meet, and today’s subcommittee meeting was already rescheduled from yesterday, said Kopplin, because the notice given about that meeting “did not meet our aspirations.”

Subcommittee Chairman Roy Glapion did not seem happy that today’s meeting was again to be rescheduled for a second time, but he told the committee that he was determined to “follow the process.”

After the meeting, Glapion suggested to a reporter from The Lens that stories focusing on the committee’s failure to comply with the open-meetings law might not be in the best interests of New Orleans.

“If we want to move the city forward, we’ve got to stay positive with our pen,” Glapion said to the reporter as Glapion walked from the room.


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  • Matt, I want to clarify what may be confusing to the reader. The committee did not adjourn into Executive Session.
    Earlier today, I sent a letter to Mr. Robert Clayton (search firm), alerting him to the fact that the City of New Orleans, in LJI’s assessment, was about to convene a meeting wherein there would be clear violations of the American’s with Disabilities Act (through discussion of “prospective employee’s” actual or perceived physical or mental health; and the Louisiana Public Meetings Law to the extent no notice had been provided to these candidates of the executive session and that they each have an absolute right to have this commission discussion made in open session.
    Mr. Clayton responded by copying LJI’s letter to commission members AND the City Attorney.
    Still, with both of Mayor Landrieu’s top deputy mayors in attendance, the commission planned to proceed in what can only be viewed as an obscene violation of federal law (ADA) and state law.
    I have not followed this issue closely, and I thank The Lens and the TP for bringing NORDC Selection Process to the public’s attention.
    As a civil and human rights attorney, I grieve over the fact that this commission is so obviously trying to eliminate Reggie Williams, who after reading his resume on The Lens site, is OBVIOUSLY THE MOST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION.
    He is also disabled. But he has overcome his disabilities and, indeed, is a national “poster-child” of advocacy in this regard.
    Good Grief … Stacy Head and I agree on something. Can this Mayor and the NORDC he controls just do the right thing! Allow NOLA to be cited for best practices for a change.

  • Matt Davis

    Thanks, Tracie. You’re right. They didn’t go into executive session. We had a glitch in the editing process and it’s been corrected now.