The Superdome went black during the Super Bowl, but Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin was on hand Thursday in the dome’s Bienville Room to bring what he called a “good dose of sunshine” to the selection of a firm to monitor the New Orleans Police Department as it comes into compliance with a federal consent decree.

Hey… wait a minute …

Isn’t the city trying to get out from under that confounded consent decree, with its pricey 492-point plan to bring the police into compliance with 21st century policing norms — at an estimated cost to the city of $55 million over four years?

Well, indeed it is.

But the show must go on — or, as the ever-animated activist Sandra “18 Wheeler” Hester put it during the meeting — the “dog and pony show” must go on.

Kopplin, at one table, was joined by a team of city attorneys and Danny Cazenave, a former NOPD officer on contract with the city.*

They didn’t say much during the two-hour meeting

At another table: representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, led by attorney Roy Austin.

Austin took time to highlight the strengths of the 12 bidders who replied to a city request-for-proposals last year, back when the city was still on board with the consent decree.

This was the first of four scheduled public meetings of the Evaluation Committee. They’ll meet again at the Superdome on April 2 at 8 a.m.

Fielding invective-laden outbursts from the likes of Hester and other citizens outraged by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s about-face on the issue, the committee’s business today was to winnow the dozen bids down to a lucky five.

The city’s favored bidders were the California-based Elite Performance Assessment Consultants and Chicago-based Hillard-Heintze, the two that were asked to return for the next phase of the competition.

The former bid $8.9 million for the job; the latter, $7 million.*

The Department of Justice wanted to hear more from The Bromwich Group ($8.1 million), The OIR Group ($7.7 million), and the law firm Sheppard Mullin ($7.9 million).

Curiously, each of the bidders favored by Justice submitted bids only after the city re-opened the request for proposals for an additional month late last year.

It did so after the initial appeal yielded a mere seven first-round bids.

After making their choices known to the public, the officials opened the floor for public comment.

“How can you talk about transparency when you’re trying to opt out of this whole process?” one speaker inquired of Kopplin, making reference to the mayoral administration’s change of heart.

His question hung in the air like a Thomas Morstead punt.

*Correction: The story originally misidentified Cazenave as an attorney.

*Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the Hillard Heintze proposal was for $7.2 million. It’s $7 million, as noted in the current version. (May 2, 2013)

Tom Gogola

Tom Gogola covered criminal justice for The Lens from February 2012 to May 2013. He is a veteran journalist and editor who has written on a range of subjects for many publications, including Newsday, New...