Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Budget time is in the air

The kids are all posturing in anticipation.
Criminal District Court Clerk Arthur Morrell warned Tuesday that, as of next week, his office will no longer have enough staff to process overnight bail bonds due to what he said is the refusal of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration to adequately fund the office.

With frustration in his voice, Morrell accused city officials of waging a personal vendetta against him in the form of a hiring freeze that has pushed the Clerk’s Office to the brink of being incapable of fulfilling its statutory mandate.

Beginning Monday, he said, people seeking to bail someone out of Orleans Parish Prison after 11 p.m. “may as well wait until the next morning, because we do not have any bonding clerks available to do that.”
I know I'm being flippant there. For all I know, Morrell's situation really is exactly as desperate as he says.  It's highly probable that most departments* are going to have similar things to say.  And it's likely there will be a great deal of truth in their complaints.

The disputes probably won't all be as publicly acrimonious as this one is, though. 
Andy Kopplin, Landrieu’s chief administrative officer, responded by accusing Morrell of “political posturing” on the eve of a hearing before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, which has been asked to weigh in, for the second time in as many years, on the budget feud between the city and the Clerk’s Office.

Kopplin said he met with Morrell a few weeks ago and told him “that he could now start replacing folks as they leave,” adding the city would approve the hiring of new bonding clerks.

“The good news is that, after a couple of years of a hiring freeze on the clerk, he is now operating within his budget,” Kopplin said. “I told him that he has now got his personnel spending within the budget and, as people leave, now they can be replaced.”

Asked to respond to Kopplin’s remarks, Morrell said, “He’s a liar, and you can quote me saying that.”

Morrell said he has never been told the hiring freeze was being lifted. “Not mistaken. Not misunderstood. He’s lying.”

*Morrell, technically oversees a state entity but his budget is still dependent on the city. The dispute is in litigation.  It's complicated. But read the rest of the article.

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