You can fight City Hall in New Orleans, and you may even win. But don’t expect to get any money out of it.
At least not if you sue in state court. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu has pointed out in his tussle with the city’s firefighters over how much money he should be putting into their pension fund, state courts can’t seize money from the city to pay off lawsuits.
The result is a long line — a very long line — of parties that have successfully sued the city and have yet to collect.
Landrieu’s administration turned over a complete list of them this week, and it comes to 17 pages, amounting to more than $30 million in judgments against the city. Some of the lawsuits involved go back to the late 1990s.
City Council President Stacy Head said some of the people waiting for their money occasionally call her office to complain.
But it’s been several years since the mayor and council found fit to budget any of the city’s scarce dollars to pay off those holding the city’s IOUs, and no one can force them to do so.
The sums involved vary hugely. Someone named Kurt Coates apparently won a final judgment against the city on Dec. 6, 1996, for $397.79 (or $603.15 in today’s dollars). A plaintiff named Tyruss Lyn won $220,000 in 2007.
The firefighters are supposed to receive $17.5 million, according to the court.
Second candidate confirmed in DA’s race
While St. Tammany and Washington Parish District Attorney Walter Reed maintains a stoic silence in the face of mounting media reports and federal investigations into his campaign and personal finances, potential opponents in November’s election are starting to make themselves heard.
Earlier this week, Slidell attorney Alan Black became the second St. Tammany Parish lawyer to confirm that he is in the race, whether Reed — who hasn’t been challenged at the polls in more than a decade — runs or not. Reed has not made his plans clear, but he did file a campaign finance report May 7.
Black joins Roy Burns in the race. Burns also confirmed that he has seeded his campaign with $200,000 of his own money, showing a willingness to go toe-to-toe with Reed, who in May reported $319,000 in his campaign war chest.
Now, north shore political watchers will turn their eyes to two rumored candidates whose entry could alter the race significantly: Judge Raymond Childress and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Trainor. Both have said they are considering entering the race but haven’t decided yet.
The race is drawing more interest than it has since 1996, the last time Reed faced an opponent. He’s looking more vulnerable now because of recent media reports detailing his campaign and business dealings.
Qualifying for the race is Aug. 20-22.
Compiled by Andrew Vanacore and Faimon A. Roberts III