Inside metro New Orleans politics for April 27, 2013

Clarkson defines ‘good government’

Thursday was the third time a City Council committee was supposed to discuss a new office that would handle off-duty detail work for New Orleans police officers.

Thursday was the third time that item was yanked from the agenda at the last minute.

No worries, though, Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson said. It only happened — again — since discussions among the Landrieu administration, Fraternal Order of Police and council members about the politically sensitive issue are ongoing.

“We are trying to resolve things behind closed doors,” Clarkson said at the start of the Budget Committee meeting. “That’s just good government.”

Clarkson then ended her announcement of the deferral by thanking “all of you for your participation.”

Hopeful WTC suitor has unique trait

Among the reams of pages that make up three proposals for the future of the World Trade Center site are accolades and previous projects that each developer hopes will set him apart from the competition.

While Jim Burch’s submission states that he is responsible for developments everywhere from Washington, D.C., to Tunisia to Morocco, he also noted that he has another skill set beyond just a developer.

Since 2002, his proposal notes, Burch has been the principal bishop of the Catholic Dioceses of One Spirit.

“The diocese is an ecumenical Christian association, more like the early centuries of Christianity than the last several centuries, and based on the underlying substantive understanding that God loves everybody equally and unequivocally, and that the presence of divinity within everything and everyone is the essence of the Christian message,” the proposal reads.

An ordained Catholic priest, Burch spends most of his time as a motivational speaker who discusses spirituality and often addresses more than 30,000 people each year.

His diocese, according the proposal, has “approximately 60-plus progressive priests — women and men, married and single, heterosexual and homosexual — with more constantly in the pipeline.”

Beyond the religious realm, Burch notes, he also stays “quite active” in political issues on Capitol Hill.

His proposal for the World Trade Center calls for creating an open-air market on the first three floors of the tower, opening a 550-room hotel, adding 88 apartments and luring the World Trade Center group to its former home.

N.O. City Attorney Cortizas to step down

City Attorney Richard Cortizas announced Friday he will leave his job next month.

Cortizas, who has worked for the city the past three years, will leave his post on May 3 to “pursue family business interests” and practice private law with Jones Walker.

Sharonda Williams, who serves as chief deputy city attorney for litigation, will succeed Cortizas.

Cortizas has served as city attorney since October 2011. Before that he served as Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s executive counsel beginning in May 2010.

Landrieu described Cortizas as an integral part of the city, noting that he served as part of the team that negotiated the New Orleans Police Department consent decree and oversaw a “turnaround” of the city’s contracting processes and a “major” increase in alcoholic beverage operator prosecutions.

“Richard has been a key member of our team and a true public servant for our city,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement.

Williams joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2011.

As chief deputy city attorney for litigation, she has supervised and managed lawyers and staff on all litigation matters, as well as matters related to civil service, alcohol beverage control, risk management and public record requests.

She also has been the lead attorney on matters related to taxi cab reform litigation and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office consent decree.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the city of New Orleans in this new role,” Williams said.

Compiled by

Danny Monteverde