It’s not the kind of email you want to get from your boss about your work, even if you don’t actually acknowledge that the sender is, in fact, your boss.
“I never got to the findings because I could not understand what was being said,” wrote Ed Quatrevaux, New Orleans’ inspector general, to Susan Hutson, the city’s independent police monitor. “This paper would embarrass your office greatly if it were released in this condition.”
It’s impossible to verify Quatrevaux’s assessment because the report in question never became public. It was supposed to be an inquiry into the actions of Marlin Defillo, a former assistant chief in the New Orleans Police Department, in response to the death of Henry Glover after Hurricane Katrina. The feds ultimately charged five police officers in Glover’s death. Defillo faced accusations that he had ignored the case instead of launching a timely internal investigation.
According to a series of emails that Quatrevaux made public this week, Hutson sent her report on Defillo to the Police Department for comment on July 7, 2011. “We still need to review it internally for typos, etc.” she wrote. “But, the main analysis should not change.”
A little while later, Hutson sent Quatrevaux a note that read, “Q: I would love to get your thoughts on our findings,” to which Quatrevaux responded with his warning that the report would “embarrass your office.”
The emails provide an unusual window on just how sour the relationship between the inspector general and the police monitor has become, and how long it’s been that way, though Quatrevaux’s point in releasing them was about their timing.
Hutson has accused Quatrevaux of interfering with her investigations in order to protect his relationships with law enforcement officials. An editorial on the dispute in the New Orleans Advocate this week said “Hutson’s assertion that Quatrevaux has clamped down on her activities is serious.”
Quatrevaux apparently interpreted that line as referring to the Defillo report and so released the email exchange in response, pointing out that Hutson sent it to him only after she sent it to the NOPD. “As to suppression of her report, there was no opportunity,” he said.
Quatrevaux also noted that he has provided a detailed, public critique of Hutson’s report on the department’s stop-and-frisk policy, explaining why he found seven of the report’s nine conclusions “incorrect and unwarranted.”
Ursula Price, an acting deputy police monitor, said she had trouble interpreting Quatrevaux’s statement, given the different reports being discussed. But she said the police monitor stands by her stop-and-frisk analysis, and noted that it was cited by federal Judge Shira Scheindlin in her recent landmark ruling against New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Price added that the monitor’s office is ultimately hoping to get past the dispute with Quatrevaux. “We want to get back to work,” she said.
‘Thieves and liars’ remark raises hackles
Quatrevaux rankled some elected officials in St. Tammany Parish on Monday when he told a task force exploring the idea of creating an IG office for St. Tammany that the world is full of “thieves and liars” and that government is vulnerable to them.
Parish President Pat Brister fired off a letter to Quatrevaux the next day saying she was “extremely disappointed and offended” by some of his comments, singling out the “thieves and liars” remark as an offense to “all the honest hard-working government employees and public officials” and the people who elect them. She wrote that she was “discouraged at such an acerbic attitude.”
Slidell officials have even more ambitious plans for a rebuttal to Quatrevaux. The Slidell City Council has called a special meeting for Monday with just one item on the agenda: a response to Quatrevaux’s statement.
Councilman Sam Caruso said he is writing the response at the request of fellow council members who were outraged by Quatrevaux’s statement — a reaction he said he shares.
Caruso noted that Quatrevaux was quoted in The Times-Picayune on Friday as saying that he should have been more precise.
That may mitigate what Caruso writes, he said, but he insisted the IG’s original comment showed no sense of perspective. He compared it to focusing on the person who commits a mass killing instead of the many people who rush to the aid of the injured.
In 35 years of public life, Caruso said, he has found those who serve in Slidell to be “scrupulously honest people.”
Quatrevaux said he told the task force “that ‘we protect the city’ — and I’m reading from my notes — ‘against employees, contractors, elected officials and the public.’ That’s what we said.”
The statement about “thieves and liars,” Quatrevaux said, “came in response to a question or suggestion by someone to the contrary, frankly, that there was no need to have any sort of protection.”
Recovery czar lands new rebuilding gig
He may be lightly regarded in New Orleans, but former “recovery czar” Ed Blakely is still trading on his post-Katrina experience in the city to land rebuilding work elsewhere.
An article this week by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. — that country’s public-television network — notes that Blakely has been tapped to help rebuild the town center of Parramatta, near Sydney. It identifies the professor as “the man who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.”
The article also says Blakely was chosen by President George W. Bush as the Crescent City’s recovery “tsar,” when it was actually Mayor Ray Nagin who brought him in.
Upon his arrival in New Orleans in January 2007, Blakely predicted there’d be “cranes on the skyline” within months — meaning that endless rounds of planning would soon turn into doing. Instead, Blakely created yet another plan, one calling for investment in 17 target zones around town, that soon began gathering dust.
While the professor — who claimed in a book published last year that the target-zone plan was the driver of the city’s recovery — isn’t promising “cranes on the skyline” in Parramatta, he’s again portraying himself as a man of action.
Not only did he help rebuild New Orleans “from the ground up,” he claims, but he also touts major projects he’s been involved with in San Francisco, New York, Moscow and Paris.
In Parramatta, “we’re not going to plan, we’re going to do,” he told the ABC.
Compiled by staff writers Andrew Vanacore, Sara Pagones and Gordon Russell