A coalition of 25 groups that solicited dozens of pledges from Mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans City Council members ahead of last year’s municipal elections says those officials have completely made good on fewer than half of their promises.
The officials have made progress on, but not fully met, another 47 percent of the goals, the group says. On another 9 percent, they’ve made no headway.
The coalition, Forward New Orleans, has released wide-ranging platforms in advance of the municipal elections since 2010. It calls for action on many fronts, asks all mayoral and council candidates to endorse its goals and then tracks the winners’ progress post-election.
The coalition consists of business, civic and neighborhood organizations.
Shortly before the last election cycle, the group unveiled 11 issues and more than a hundred action items it said could best address those issues. The issues include blight, city finances, city contracting practices, economic development, the criminal justice system and opportunities for local, small and disadvantaged businesses, among others.
In a progress report Thursday, the coalition congratulated Landrieu and the council on steps forward on some issues, but it urged them to ensure those advances don’t fade after the 2018 elections force leadership changes.
On other issues, businessman Gregory Rusovich, a leader of the coalition since its founding, said he hopes to work with the city to achieve more progress.
“We want to use the 47 and 9 percent figures, not so much to go slam city officials over the head and say that, ‘You haven’t performed’ but rather to say, ‘Look, you haven’t performed on these issues, but we are here work with you in partnership to achieve them,’ ” he said.
In the report, the coalition gives the elected officials unfavorable marks for three mandates related to blight reduction. Those deal with the Department of Code Enforcement, which the report card says lacks “stable long-term funding” and is not regularly in touch with the Police Department and neighborhood groups.
The city responded that thanks to NOPD quality-of-life officers’ attendance at monthly code enforcement meetings and other correspondence, the agencies confer as much as is needed.
The report also says the city deals with neighborhood organizations’ complaints about blight through its Office of Neighborhood Engagement rather than through a neighborhood coordinator as recommended by Forward New Orleans.
On criminal justice, the coalition gives negative marks for the city officials’ failure — within 90 days of taking office — to commission a “best practices analysis” on needed police manpower and to develop a plan to how to provide that manpower. At the same time, it acknowledges that its time line “may have been unduly optimistic,” and it notes the city’s commissioning of an in-depth staffing study in August.
The coalition praises the civil service system as the only focus area where every pledge was fulfilled.
It gives a work-in-progress label to its call for a city mandate to “require written disclosure of contractor and subcontractor ownership interests,” saying that even though the city requires firms to disclose such interests, individual city departments are responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirement, which might lead to inconsistent enforcement.
One of the city’s major contractors, Woodward Design + Build, has been the subject of much recent criticism for its previous 49 percent stake in subcontractor Nolmar Corp., listed as a disadvantaged business enterprise.
The coalition praises the City Council for some of its actions, such as council members’ work involving city finances and early childhood development.
But the council does not escape criticism. Four council members are rapped for not supporting Landrieu’s 2014 push to shift money in the Municipal Court budget to pay for salaries there. Those who didn’t back Landrieu — Jason Williams, Nadine Ramsey, James Gray and Jared Brossett — “have contradicted their Forward New Orleans pledge to impose financial controls on Municipal and Traffic Court,” the report states.
At the time, Municipal Court judges said such a shift could run afoul of state rules.
City officials said Thursday they hadn’t seen the coalition’s report and would respond when they had a chance to go over it.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.