St. Tammany Parish hasn’t had a new sheriff take office in 20 years, so a crowd is bound to be in attendance when Randy Smith takes the oath of office at 10 a.m. July 1 at the Church of the King in Mandeville.

But one group of elected officials won’t be there: the Mandeville mayor and the five members of the City Council. Those officials, elected in March, also take office July 1, and their swearing-in is scheduled for the same time at the Paul R. Spitzfaden Community Center in Mandeville.

The conflict leaves other elected officials in St. Tammany with a dilemma.

Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, who found out about the scheduling problem while chatting with Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere at a groundbreaking, said he’s torn about what to do. He attended the Mandeville ceremony four years ago, he said, and would like to be there to support his Mandeville counterpart.

Any mayor, he said, wants to have other neighboring elected officials come to their inauguration. But Cooper also wants to be in the audience when Smith becomes the new sheriff.

Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan, who had been unaware of the conflict, said he’s already accepted an invitation from Smith, who is now the Slidell police chief. “I’d certainly want to be there to support a brother mayor,” he said.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery has accepted Smith’s invitation as well, his spokeswoman said, and has not received an invitation to the Mandeville event.

Councilman-at-large Clay Madden said the conflict was unfortunate but that he has relatives coming in from out of town to watch him be sworn in for a second term. He described the Mandeville ceremony as a low-key affair that draws mostly the family and friends of the elected officials.

N.O. park system ranks in middle of the pack

How does New Orleans’ park system compare with those of other large cities? About in the middle of the pack, according to a new study.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, have the two best park systems in the United States, according to the Trust for Public Land’s fifth annual ParkScore index, which was released Thursday by the nonprofit organization.

New Orleans tied with Scottsdale, Arizona, for 41st place among the 98 cities rated.

Washington, D.C., placed third in the ParkScore rankings, one spot ahead of neighboring Arlington, Virginia. San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; New York; Irvine, California; Boston; Cincinnati; and Madison, Wisconsin, rounded out the top 10. (Cincinnati and Madison tied for 10th.)

“Every American deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and ParkScore helps us measure which cities are meeting that mark,” said Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Land.

The group reported that returning ParkScore cities — those ranked in previous years — increased spending on parks by an average of $1 per person in 2016.

“Cities are investing in park systems, and that’s showing up on the ParkScore index. It is great news for public health, the environment and local economies,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for the trust.

Scores are based on three factors: park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (about a half-mile); park size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and facilities and investment, which combines park spending per resident with the availability of four popular park amenities: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, and recreation and senior centers.

Adjudicated properties up for auction June 1

New Orleans will host its monthly online auction for adjudicated properties from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 1. Nineteen properties are scheduled to be sold, with winning bidders receiving full ownership and title insurance for each property.

The city pointed out that there are more than 900 properties still available for someone to post the deposit needed to begin the research and notification processes before an auction may be scheduled. A list of these properties is available at, which is where the online auctions take place. A property is adjudicated to the city when its property taxes have not been paid and the city is unable to sell the property at a tax sale.

The city will auction properties only after five years have elapsed from the tax sale certificate filing date. Any interested party may bid on a property in the auction, whether or not they placed the initial deposit on the property; any depositors who lose at the auction will have their deposit refunded.

All owners of adjudicated properties scheduled for auction have received multiple notices of the taxes owed, with a legally mandated 60-day repayment grace period.

Once a property is successfully auctioned and then sold, the former owners forfeit all rights to the property.

The number of properties available for auction in June could change as delinquent property owners pay the taxes and fees due.

Compiled by Sara Pagones and Bruce Eggler