It looked like Mayor Mitch Landrieu was going to have almost complete control over the board that governs the city’s sewage and water infrastructure.
Not so fast.
With the mayor’s backing, the voters and the Legislature this year passed a set of reform proposals that will shrink the Sewerage & Water Board’s membership, put professional qualification requirements in place and remove the three seats reserved for City Council members.
That means the mayor gets to appoint eight members of the board from lists of nominees proposed by local university presidents and civic organizations, with the mayor himself and two members of the Board of Liquidation, City Debt bringing the total to 11. It would seem like a recipe for consensus.
But this week offered a preview of the political tussling that may continue over who sits on the board.
In the past, the Board of Liquidation, which manages the city’s (and the water board’s) bonded indebtedness, would simply assign its two most junior members to serve on the Sewerage & Water Board, almost like a hazing ritual.
But at the board’s meeting on Wednesday, things got interesting. City Councilwoman Stacy Head, who serves both as a Board of Liquidation member and as the mayor’s chief antagonist on the council, proposed nominating Mark Moody, who already sits on the water board, and Alan Arnold, who served on the board until a few years ago.
In response, the mayor’s chief deputy, Andy Kopplin, offered a substitute motion in favor of leaving in place both members who already serve on the water board: Moody and Ray Manning.
Amid some spirited back-and-forth, Council President Jackie Clarkson tried to broker a compromise: Nominate all three.
That idea created some confusion, however, because there are only two open slots.
Then Head made another offer. Since Kopplin seemed most adamant about keeping Manning on the water board, where he has served as president pro tem and in effect the mayor’s representative, she proposed to nominate Arnold and Manning instead of Arnold and Moody.
That idea finally won the day. Kopplin and Moody voted against it, but the six other Board of Liquidation members present gave it a thumbs up.
At 84, N.O. coroner mulls another term
Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard has the distinction of being the longest-serving coroner in the state and the senior elected official in the city. Now, at age 84 and with almost four decades of classifying deaths and committing psychiatric patients behind him, he has said it might be time to hang up his lab coat.
Then again, with construction of a new office having recently begun, he may find it impossible to walk away from the post he has held since he was first elected to it as a relatively young ob/gyn in 1974.
“I would hate to leave now when the office is about to come online. This is something I’ve worked on for 40 years,” Minyard said Friday. “To walk away right now would be difficult. On the other hand, I’m 84 years old and in good health. But I need to talk it over with my family.
“I have not really made up my mind totally. I’m leaning toward doing it again.”
Minyard said in 1998 that he would not seek re-election, but now he’s considering a run for what would be his 11th consecutive term.
In May, the trumpet-playing coroner, sometimes known as Dr. Jazz, said the time had come to at least explore other options, saying he wondered what God has in store for him in the later years of his life. He said he might consider farming if he doesn’t run again, since he already collects his own eggs and has a farm in Folsom.
If he should decide to seek re-election, there might be little competition. In some previous elections, he has had a few opponents, but in others he has faced no challengers, like the time in 1998 when his only rival dropped out of the race.
Minyard said he has one concern if he decides to seek office again: “Who is going to vote for an 84-year-old man?”
Galvan gives up practice in face of likely jail term
Peter Galvan, who resigned as St. Tammany Parish coroner last month, is also shutting down his private medical practice, according to a notice mailed to his patients.
“It is with great regret that I must inform you that I shall close my private medical office effective Dec. 6, 2013,” the letter says.
Galvan, 54, is set to be sentenced in federal court on Jan. 29 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft at his public office.
He appears to be putting his personal affairs in order prior to going to prison. He put his home in Turtle Creek near Slidell up for sale shortly after his guilty plea, and now he is advising patients to schedule final appointments and find a new primary care doctor.
The letter makes no mention of his legal woes but thanks patients for “your continuing confidence and support.”
Galvan faces a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. According to sentencing guidelines, he is likely to serve 18 to 24 months.
“I’m unsure of what the future holds, but pray that I may be available for your future medical needs,” the letter concludes.
Compiled by Andrew Vanacore, Danny Monteverde and Sara Pagones