As Jefferson Parish Inspector General David McClintock tells it, he spent 25 days seeking feedback from parish council members about a package of legislation pertaining to his office’s operation that he asked them to consider passing.
No one mentioned a word to him about the matter, he said — until it came up for discussion at a parish council meeting in Gretna on Wednesday and was immediately deferred until April 29.
“(There was not) a note of caution, a word change suggestion, nothing,” McClintock later said during an Ethics and Compliance Commission meeting, where he explained that council members had told him the Parish Attorney’s Office had reservations about some of the language in the proposed legislation. “I’m hopeful — I’m optimistic, as always — that we’ll get through it. (But) I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t communication beforehand.”
Deferring on agenda items isn’t rare for the parish council, which does that numerous times at any given meeting. But at least some took Wednesday’s episode as another indication that the parish council still might not see eye-to-eye with McClintock, who was hired in March 2013 and is in his second full year of office.
Councilmen Mark Spears and Ben Zahn, who moved to defer, denied that Wednesday’s postponement had anything to do with McClintock personally. The decision was meant to give the council time to fully understand the proposed legislation and to ensure the package met all constitutional requirements, the councilmen said, noting the issue would be on the agenda the next time they and their colleagues met.
It was March 20 when McClintock wrote an email to the council asking that it weigh three amendments to the ordinance governing the Inspector General’s Office’s operations. According to the email and an accompanying memorandum, one proposed amendment would bring parish law in line with a state statute that makes it a misdemeanor for officials to disclose privileged or confidential information gathered by the inspector general. Another amendment would prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of IG reports that aren’t yet finalized.
Those requests came after an incident in which McClintock objected to the leak last year of a confidential memo about the parish’s attempts to lease its two public hospitals.
A third amendment would remove representatives of the state Supreme Court and the Association of Inspectors General from sitting on a committee that evaluates the quality of the work done by McClintock’s office.
McClintock told the Ethics and Compliance Commission he was eager to collaborate with the parish council and administration on smoothing out their concerns.
Earlier in his tenure, McClintock faced criticism from some Parish Council members for taking longer than he predicted to begin issuing reports on investigations and audits into government operations.
In an annual report his office released April 1, McClintock indirectly addressed some of those criticisms, noting that it wasn’t until 2014 that his office reached full staffing, moved into its completed working space at 5401 Jefferson Highway and selected a computer system to manage its cases. McClintock’s annual report also cited increased activity in 2014.
Since November, the office has published four investigative reports or audits. An audit released Wednesday found that the parish had given too much overtime pay to employees it wasn’t required to compensate in that manner under federal law.
Note: This post was updated since it was first published to include a remark from Councilman Ben Zahn.