The question New Orleanians should be asking about the Landrieu Administration’s Great Place to Work Initiative (Re: “Potential Issue? Emails show close communication” /December 18, 2014) is not whether we worked closely with Civil Service Commissioners, staff, unions and employee groups, civic organizations like BGR, the Urban League, the Business Council, Puentes, the Young Leadership Council, and Citizens for One, which we did.
The real question is why it took so long for New Orleans to modernize its civil service system, given that the State of Louisiana and many other jurisdictions across the country made similar improvements more than a decade ago. BGR called for reform in 2004 and the Business Council did so in 2010; the Civil Service Department staff even made a proposal similar to the Great Place to Work in 2010 and the Forward New Orleans Coalition secured a pledge to reform our civil service system from all mayoral candidates and each of the city council members elected in 2014.
The Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University, has followed in the footsteps of colleagues like Norman C. Francis of Xavier and Scott Cowen of Tulane with his impactful, volunteer civic leadership. He deserves the praise and gratitude of all New Orleanians for taking on tough challenges and making important changes as he has done with his work to improve our civil service system and before that when he led the City’s Ethics Review Board in creating the Office of Inspector General and hiring capable and independent leaders to fill that role.
Wildes once emailed me an article, “If you’ve got a tough job, hire a Jesuit.” The City Council did just that in appointing Wildes to the Civil Service Commission and he more than measured up to the task.
He served with honor and distinction and has earned our thanks for a job well done.