Planning Commission board fires director

The board of the New Orleans City Planning Commission voted to fire its long-time executive director, Yolanda Rodriguez, on Tuesday, a move that sets the stage for a new leader who is likely to be more aligned with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office.

The mayor picks each of the Planning Commission’s nine board members for nine-year terms, and Landrieu has now named six of them, giving him a majority on a board that helps shape and tweak the city’s master plan for development.

Board members confirmed that Rodriguez was fired after the completion of her annual performance review but declined to give any specific reasons why they felt she needed to be let go. The vote was 7 to 1.

Board Chairman Craig Mitchell said the specifics behind the board’s decision are a “personnel matter that I can’t discuss.” He said the board will meet Thursday at 3 p.m. to talk about appointing an interim director after Rodriguez’s top deputy, Leslie Alley, declined to step in while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

Mitchell wouldn’t say if he has another candidate in mind to serve as interim or how long the process of finding a permanent director might take.

“We haven’t fleshed all those things out yet,” he said.

Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni said the decision to fire Rodriguez was ultimately up to the board.

Rodriguez became executive director in 2006 under Mayor Ray Nagin. She was paid about $122,000 a year. Messages left with her city email address and phone number were not immediately returned.