The race to replace 22nd Judicial District Attorney Walter Reed, whose campaign spending and other activities have been under media klieg lights for months, has candidates working to burnish their good-government bona fides. Alan Black, a Slidell lawyer and one of five candidates to qualify this week, announced Thursday that he has hired Dan Kyle, a former state legislative auditor, to serve as senior adviser to his campaign.
“Dr. Kyle will provide me with expert advice both before and after election day so that I can provide the taxpayers with the absolute highest levels of transparency and accountability in the District Attorney’s Office,” Black said in a prepared statement.
Black said voters in St. Tammany and Washington parishes have been voicing concerns about “the various scandals in government and their desire to see integrity as a focus of each public servant.”
The release touts Kyle’s 13 years as legislative auditor, noting that, during his tenure, more than 200 public officials were “caught and held accountable for using public money inappropriately or stealing from the government.”
Reed, who announced in July that he would not seek a sixth term in office, is under investigation by a federal grand jury, which is looking into his campaign fund expenditures and his employment with St. Tammany Parish Hospital.
The four other candidates in the race are Roy Burns, Warren Montgomery, Brian Trainor and Robert “Robbie” Rees. Trainor and Black have the closest ties to the sitting district attorney: Trainor served as an assistant district attorney under him, and Black frequently served as emcee at Reed’s campaign functions. Burns has become a fierce critic of the DA.
Harahan’s Mosca tries to mend some fences
As candidates lined up at Harahan’s City Council meeting to introduce themselves Thursday in advance of this fall’s election, Councilwoman Cindy Murray took the opportunity to bid an early adieu to her colleagues and urge residents to do little things to help the city’s finances.
Although she said she had no immediate plans to run in the near future, Murray also picked up an unlikely endorsement from Mayor Vinny Mosca, who has frequently been a target of her criticisms, should she decide to run for a seat on the Parish Council.
Murray will continue to serve until the new council takes office in January.
“Just because I’m a ‘lame duck’ doesn’t mean I’ve stopped, as you all can tell,” Murray said. In that spirit, she stressed the need for the city to get on better financial footing and said residents should take steps to aid in that effort, such as recycling to lower the city’s landfill fees.
Another area where the average citizen can help out? Not flushing diapers down the toilet, as it costs the city thousands to fix the clogs they cause, Murray said.
She told the crowd at the City Council meeting that while she had considered running for mayor in November, she decided not to.
But, she said, “I still plan on being very involved in this city, with the help of others. I plan on continuing to do our best for this city.”
After she wrapped up, Mosca said he would support Murray should she seek a seat on the Parish Council in the shake-up due next year, when Parish President John Young leaves his post to run for lieutenant governor. He added that he did not mean she should try to unseat Councilman Paul Johnston, the former Harahan mayor who now represents the area on the council.
Murray and Mosca have frequently been at odds, with their battles focusing on plans to redevelop Colonial Golf and Country Club and the financial management of the city.
On Friday, Mosca said that despite their disagreements, he believed in “turning the other cheek.”
“She’s more of a stickler for dotting the Is and crossing the Ts, and I’m sometimes more flexible if it can help people,” Mosca said. “But I told her if she can run for another office that’ll help Harahan, she should do so.”
Haitian minister gets look at Tammany justice
St. Tammany Parish’s Justice Center — the massive, red-brick courthouse that houses the sheriff, the district attorney and 12 courtrooms — got some international attention Wednesday, when Parish President Pat Brister hosted Haitian Minister of Justice Jean Renel Sanon, who was there as part of a mission to exchange ideas with officials in the American criminal justice system.
Sanon and Brister took a quick photo outside the building’s south portico in the boiling Louisiana heat, then headed inside to tour the building and speak to some of the judges about how the judicial system works in St. Tammany Parish.
Sanon, who earlier in the day toured the federal courthouse in New Orleans and a jail in St. Bernard Parish, said he was happy to exchange ideas with local officials. Sanon’s position in Haiti puts him over the country’s judiciary, law enforcement and incarceration.
“I want to see what I can take to reinforce our judicial system,” he said through his interpreter.
U.S. Army Capt. Michael Lacoste, of the Louisiana National Guard, who serves in the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, said Louisiana and Haiti are both based on French code law systems and thus share some similarities.
Lt. Col. Patrick Jackson, also of the National Guard, said the purpose of the visit to St. Tammany Parish was to look at “back-of-the-house stuff,” like how the system is financed and how medical care is administered.
For her part, Brister said she expected the meeting to be beneficial to both parties.
“We can learn from each other,” she said.
Compiled by staff writers Sara Pagones, Jeff Adelson and Faimon A. Roberts III