If all goes according to plan, the Ethics Review Board in New Orleans will soon choose a new inspector general to replace Ed Quatrevaux, who held the position for much of its decade-long existence.
The end of Quatrevaux's tenure hasn't been pretty. Even after the board announced a national search for his replacement, he refused to take the hint and went public in an eventually abandoned effort to win another term.
More recently, an explosive leaked internal report revealed a shocking level of dysfunction within the office itself, with one top aide compiling evidence against another alleging an extensive pattern of mismanagement and possible misconduct. Howard Schwartz, then the OIG's chief of investigations and now the interim IG and a candidate for the permanent job, conducted the investigation, which Quatrevaux first authorized and later disavowed. The report was a black eye for an agency tasked with rooting out such problems elsewhere.
So it's worth noting that the agency did do plenty of rooting out on Quatrevaux's watch.
One problem it averted was outlined in an comprehensive story in Wednesday's New Orleans Advocate about questionable public dealings involving recently indicted trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and his sponsor, disgraced former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Mayfield's indictment only concerns his alleged looting of a foundation meant to support the city's public libraries, but the story noted that Nagin once also tried to give Mayfield a no-bid contract to redevelop the damaged Municipal Auditorium after Hurricane Katrina. It was Quatrevaux's intervention that headed off a clearly stinky deal.
So call the new focus on Mayfield a reminder of just how important it is to have a fully functioning and focused watchdog on the case — not just for New Orleanians, but for whoever gets the i.g. job and has to take on the mission of cleaning up the office's internal mess.