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Troy Bell

Clarification: The Advocate on April 22 quoted Neftalie Danier, assistant director of alumni relations for Bernard M. Baruch College, as saying Troy Bell — at the time the newly named chief administrative officer for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome — did not have a master of public administration degree from that school. Danier said Bell owed money and hadn't completed the necessary coursework. Asked for comment at the time, Bell said that while he had not requested the diploma, he had completed the coursework required for the degree. Bell recently provided The Advocate with a diploma dated 2012 showing he was granted the degree by Baruch. When asked Nov. 29 about the issue, Suzanne Bronski, director of public relations of Baruch College, said Bell did receive the degree, but refused to answer more questions. Bronski said that under federal law, "we are only permitted to release the degree held and the date of the degree awarded."

The chairwoman of New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority took extraordinary measures to conduct a secret search for an executive director of her agency.

Sharonda Williams made sure committee members interviewed candidates in small groups, to ensure against a quorum. She did it “for efficiency,” she said in emails obtained by The New Orleans Advocate’s Jessica Williams.

After the agency picked Greg Cook and gave him the $165,000-a-year job, members discovered he had resigned his previous job in Michigan after questions about his use of a public credit card.

The RTA’s blunder coincides with Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s disastrous hiring of a con artist, Troy Bell, as chief administrative officer. Bell lasted a week before The Advocate’s Andrea Gallo and Steve Hardy found that he had faked a college degree.

Government agencies like to conduct secret searches when they fill top positions because it makes their job easier.

The losers are the taxpayers of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.