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Troy Bell

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.