Government & Politics

Civic groups quiz candidates on transparency, other issues

A coalition of organizations led by the New Orleans Neighborhoods Partnership Network released a scorecard of candidates for New Orleans mayor and City Council last week. The scorecard, based on a series of yes or no responses, included a number of questions on government transparency and accountability. The Lens was among the participants in the creation of survey.

See the full scorecard here.

Of the three current mayoral candidates, only former Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris participated in the survey. Incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu attempted to respond with a letter but declined to answer the yes or no questions, according to Kelsey Foster of the Committee for a Better New Orleans, another group involved in developing the scorecard. Foster is also a charter schools reporter for The Lens.  Entertainer Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno, participated before he dropped out of the race.

Also opting out were City Council at-Large candidate and current District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell; District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry; District C candidates Jackie Clarkson, Lourdes Moran, Nadine Ramsey and Eloise Williams; District D candidate Jared Brossett; and District E Councilman James Gray.

Most candidates who participated favored taking measures to make public meetings more accessible to citizens by making meeting times more convenient. Only District E candidate Andre Kelly opposed that. And all but District D candidate Joseph Bouie favored adopting public meeting agendas with timetables.

All candidates said they would honor state law by responding to public records requests within three business days. And all said they favored amending the city’s budget book throughout the year to reflect mid-year changes to the budget.

Only Bagneris, a former judge, said he opposes making public all details included in legal settlements involving public money.

The candidates were more divided on a recent campaign by the Neighborhood Partnership Network and the New  New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance for “participatory budgeting,” which would allow citizens to allocate a portion of the city capital budget by direct vote.

Asked  “Do you support and would you work to achieve allocation of $1 million in capital funds for a New Orleans participatory budgeting process?” Bagneris, at-Large City Council Division 1 candidate Eugene Green, District A candidate David Capasso, District C candidate Carlos Williams, District D candidates Joseph Bouie and Dalton Savwoir and District E candidate Andre Kelly all responded yes. The other six City Council candidates all responded no.

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