Inside Metro Politics for May 4, 2013

LaToya Cantrell
LaToya Cantrell

Minyard investigates possible new job

Job recruiters take note: Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard might be available for new work — if the right gig comes along.

Minyard has been the city’s trumpet-playing coroner for just shy of 40 years. Now, though, he is wondering if it is time to hang up the lab coat.

Asked this week if he’ll seek yet another term, he said he was not sure. The time has come to at least explore other options, he said, adding that recently he has wondered what God has in store for him after all his years in the Coroner’s Office.

“I was thinking about some sort of farmer (job),” Minyard said, noting that he already collects his own eggs in his backyard.

“If something doesn’t come up, I’ll run again,” Minyard said. “So I’m putting a want ad out there in your column.”

Clarkson to lead council one last time

Jackie Clarkson will lead the City Council for one last time before her term ends next year.

The council voted Thursday at the end of its regular meeting to elect Clarkson its president and Stacy Head its vice president. Head served as president for the last year.

While the two do not often see eye to eye — more often than not they roll eyes at each other — Clarkson took a moment after her election to council president to thank Head for her time leading the council by presenting her a proclamation.

“I can talk for a very long time about all the good things she’s done, but I mostly want to tell you that having been here again … she has run the most efficient meetings I’ve ever been a part of,” said Clarkson, the council’s senior member. “I aspire to emulate the efficiency.”

“Thank you to giving it (the presidency) back to me for my last year, because I want to go out as an eternal president and never return,” Clarkson said with a laugh.

Head then stood up to give a light hug and back pat to her seatmate before she took her proclamation and sat down again.

Jefferson millage
flap puzzles Young

A recent ruckus about renewing property tax millages in Jefferson Parish has Parish President John Young puzzled because he says his administration has proposed nothing out of the ordinary.

Young said it’s strange that his administration’s request that voters renew the parish’s 5-mill water and sewerage millages has generated mailers from Assessor Thomas Capella, and questions from Council Chairman Chris Roberts. Jefferson Parish has been renewing millages for decades, and it’s never been such a hot button topic before including when he, Roberts and Capella served on the council together.

“I find it curious,” Young said. “People are trying to make this to be something it’s not.”

At issue is whether the renewal automatically raises property taxes for the parish’s residents.

Capella sent out a mailer telling voters that if they approved the renewal their taxes would go up. Roberts has expressed concerns that the council cannot reduce the millages back to their current levels of 3.54 mills for water and 3.58 mills for sewerage. But Young said that Saturday’s election would only renew the mills at their current level, not bump them up higher.

His administration produced a letter from an attorney saying that the upcoming millage is standard for the parish, and the council would still have the ultimate authority in deciding the level of the taxes. Roberts has raised some questions about that opinion, noting that the language on this election’s ballot does not include the phrase “up to” like previous ballots.

Young said it would be problematic if the millages were not renewed since they generate about a third of the budgets for the water and sewerage departments. He doesn’t understand why something so routine and generated so much discussion, he said.

“It’s like every other renewal we’ve done for the past 25 years,” Young said. “This is no different than anything else.”

Gray, Cantrell ignore endorsements in vote

It’s often assumed that when an elected official does or does not endorse a candidate who wins an election, future actions are pretty much predetermined.

That does not appear to be the case for James Gray and LaToya Cantrell, the city’s two newest council members.

During a contentious debate Thursday about an ordinance that would increase the age limit on city taxi cabs, Gray bucked the desire of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who backed Gray during his run for the District E seat.

A series of new laws introduced at the Landrieu administration’s request now require taxi cab drivers to install credit card machines and security cameras in their vehicles, which cannot be older than seven years beginning Jan. 1.

An ordinance Gray introduced in March would’ve gone against the Landrieu-initiated taxi cab reforms and increased the age limit to 10 years. Gray said he introduced the ordinance since he heard concerns from many drivers about the cost of buying a new vehicle so often, so he wanted to ease their burden.

Cantrell, whom Landrieu snubbed during the race for District B by endorsing Dana Kaplan, voted against Gray’s ordinance, saying the mayor would veto it.

Though Cantrell said there is still work to do on the matter of taxi cab reform, she said she did not think it was wise to vote for something that Landrieu would strike down.

Compiled by

Danny Monteverde

and Allen Powell II