Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand exploring run for governor, and other political news

Normand exploring bid for governor

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand has been shopping around an April poll he commissioned that shows him with relatively high favorability ratings among potential voters across the state.

It also shows Normand running fourth among six candidates — but within striking distance — in a hypothetical 2015 gubernatorial race including U.S. Sen. David Vitter, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Treasurer John Kennedy and Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain.

Of the six, all are Republicans except for Edwards, the only one of the six to announce his candidacy. The poll of 601 likely voters, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, has Vitter at 18 percent, Edwards at 17 percent, Dardenne at 14 percent, Normand at 10 percent, Kennedy at 8 percent and Strain at 4 percent.

Voters were also asked their views of Vitter, Dardenne and Normand specifically. Vitter had the highest favorability rating, at 53 percent, but also the highest unfavorable rating, at 40 percent. Just 7 percent of voters had no opinion of Vitter.

Dardenne and Normand were known by far fewer voters, with 38 percent saying they had no opinion of Dardenne and 67 percent saying they had no opinion of Normand. But both had better favorability ratios than Vitter. For Dardenne, 46 percent said they had positive views of him versus 17 percent with negative views. For Normand, 22 percent viewed him favorably, compared to 10 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the poll is that Normand has apparently sent it around to various opinion-makers. It was written up this week in the Ouchita Citizen, for instance, which deemed Normand “more than relevant” after explaining to its readers who Normand is. Normand was not available for comment Friday.

Scrum expected for Traffic Court seat

A seat on New Orleans’ Traffic Court bench might not seem like the loftiest perch in the world. But the retirement of Judge Ronnie Sholes is expected to set off a stampede when qualifying opens in August for an October election.

Political insiders say nearly 20 people have either expressed interest in the job already or had their names circulated by friends. It’s perhaps less a function of the job’s prestige in the world of jurisprudence than its plum nature: Judges on the Traffic Court bench earn a six-figure salary while working a light schedule, often punctuated by breaks where ad hoc judges fill in. They’re also allowed to maintain a private law practice on the side.

Among the names being floated for the post, according to political observers, are Janet Ahern, former magistrate commissioner Marie Bookman, Charles Ciaccio, Louis DiRosa, Demetrius Ford, former Traffic Court candidate Patrick Giraud, recent Juvenile Court candidate Doug Hammel, Steve Jupiter, former state Rep. Charmaine Marchand-Stiaes, state Sen. Ed Murray, Richard Perque, former Judge Morris Reed, Nodic Rey, Kenya Rounds, Nicole Shepherd, Clinton Smith, John Ross Smith, Trent Smith, and former District Attorney candidate Jason Williams.

Williams and Murray both said Friday they are not interested in the position.

Charbonnet plans run for N.O. council

Ernest “Freddie” Charbonnet, who served as the District E representative on the New Orleans City Council on an interim basis after Jon Johnson pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges, is planning a run for one of the council’s two at-large seats in elections set for February. Political consultant Karen Carvin Shachat said she has signed a contract to run Charbonnet’s campaign.

At-large Councilwoman Stacy Head, who is expected to seek re-election, nominated Charbonnet, an ally, for the interim spot on the council, meaning he will likely run for the seat that Head isn’t seeking. Charbonnet is a former assistant city attorney who now has a private law practice.

Protective order filed in Ray Nagin case

The docket in former Mayor Ray Nagin’s pending criminal case has been remarkably quiet. While such high-stakes cases often bring forth a flurry of motions, the Nagin file had gone without a filing for more than two months until this week, when U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan granted prosecutors’ motion for a protective order.

In its request, acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente’s office said it was turning over a copy of all of the government’s discovery to Nagin’s defense team, led by Robert Jenkins, and asked Berrigan to prevent Nagin’s defense lawyer from disseminating that material in any way. If the defense team makes copies and gives them out — to expert witnesses, for instance — it must advise the witnesses that they may not share it in any way. Defense lawyers must also keep a log of who they give the files to, and require those people to return the material when they’re done with it. Jenkins did not oppose the motion.

Such orders are common in civil commercial litigation, but are rare in criminal cases, according to Loyola Law School professor Dane Ciolino. Courthouse watchers said they suspect prosecutors are taking pains to avoid being blamed for any potential leaks in the high-profile case, especially in the aftermath of the online-commenting scandal that rocked the U.S. Attorney’s office last year and led to the resignation of longtime U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Nagin’s trial is set for Oct. 7.

‘Roll review’ period doubled in N.O

With New Orleans property assessments rising steeply in recent years after years of stagnation, those who wish to contest their valuations have often had to contend with the indignity of long lines at City Hall. In part, that’s because of the two-week “roll review” period in August, the time state law says the tax roll must be open for inspection.

A law passed in the legislative session concluded Thursday doubles that period, meaning the tax roll will now be open from July 15 to Aug. 15. Assessor Erroll Williams hailed the legislation, calling it a “strong step in the right direction to eliminating long wait times during the open rolls period.”

NOFD chief Parent retires from post

Longtime New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Charles Parent has a new title: former superintendent.

Parent, who joined the NOFD in 1982 and led it for the last decade, officially retired this week. Deputy Mayor Col. Jerry Sneed, who oversees the city’s public-safety agencies, notified firefighters of Parent’s retirement on Wednesday.

Assistant Superintendent Tim McConnell will serve as interim superintendent until a new one is named this summer. The city is reviewing 40 applications it received from candidates interested in the job. McConnell is among them.

Parent has been on medical leave since suffering a heart attack in February.

“On behalf of Mayor (Mitch) Landrieu and the City of New Orleans, I want to thank Chief Parent for his extraordinary service to the people of this community,” Sneed wrote in his email to the NOFD. “He led the department through difficult times following Hurricane Katrina and built it back stronger.”

St. Tammany officials debate rules of order

St. Tammany Parish councilmen Steve Stefancik and Richard Tanner were dueling parliamentarians at Thursday’s meeting, with Tanner objecting when Stefancik wanted to amend an ordinance that had been introduced on the consent calendar.

“You can’t do that,” said Tanner, who previously served on the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

“Yes, you can,’’ Stefancik said. “This is not the School Board, Richard.’’

Chairman Jerry Binder, who was sitting next to Tanner, turned to Stefancik. “Steve, I finally got somebody near me who will take you on.’’ He then suggested that Stefancik offer a substitute ordinance.

“That’s consistent with the School Board, too,’’ Stefancik quipped.

But Tanner wasn’t done. After the council voted to allow the substitute ordinance, Tanner said he wasn’t going by the school board’s rules, but a higher authority. “It’s Henry M. Robert, who is the author of Robert’s Rules of Order,’’ he said.

Stefancik turned to Binder. “You want to make him the parliamentarian?’’

“No,’’ Binder said, adding: “He hasn’t asked.’’

Compiled by

Danny Monteverde, Gordon Russell and Sara Pagones