Saturday, October 21, 2017

US Attorney Cannizzaro pros and cons

What is Leon Cannizzaro's stance on Sanctuary Cities? This article cites gun control as one potential sticking point in a possible Cannizzaro nomination for US Attorney but immigration might be another one to think about.  That law enforcement issue, in particular, has been the major point of conflict between the mayor's office and the various Louisiana Republican demagogues thinking about running for Governor.  One of those demagogues is John Kennedy. And since he is the person who sends these nominations forward, one would think Cannizzaro's position would be of interest to him. Or maybe it's enough that he's just quiet about it.

If Cannizzaro plays it cool enough to get the job and then turns out to not be the beast the Sessions DOJ might be looking for there, then it's conceivable that this isn't such a bad move. USA Cannizzaro would probably be less of an immediate terror to the public at large in New Orleans than DA Cannizzaro certainly is. It also opens up the DA's office more reform-minded candidates. Jason Williams's name always comes up in these conversations for example.

On the other hand, it's worth paying attention to who is running the US Attorney's office in the coming years for other reasons
NEW ORLEANS – The cost of emergency repairs for the Sewerage and Water Board’s power plant and drainage system keep rising as the board tries to address major failures from March, July and August.

Emergency costs were initially pegged at $48.5 million after a sudden thunderstorm caused major flooding Aug. 5, but have now risen to $54.5 million, according to an update from the Sewerage and Water Board’s emergency manager, Paul Rainwater.

The 12 percent increase raises questions about whether the Sewerage and Water Board will have enough money to meet critical power and drainage needs, in addition to the massive capital improvement projects already under way.

The board’s former Chief Financial Officer Robert Miller, who left for a job in Jackson, Miss., last week, has said the New Orleans drainage system is cash-poor and relies almost entirely on federal aid for capital improvements. The Drainage Department has less than $10 million in cash on hand from three dedicated tax millages.
A few weeks ago S&WB declared a state of "extreme emergency" with regard to its work on the infamous Turbine Number 4. Here is what that does.
The declaration gives the agency's executive staff free rein to buy any parts and equipment and hire any outside specialists to finish a repair job that ballooned to $24 million and has stretched on for more than five years.  
From the Hammer report, it looks like the "extreme" emergency is a separate declaration from two others that had already been necessary to free up money back in March and again in August.
The Sewerage and Water Board started tapping into that money in March with an emergency declaration that hardly anyone noticed. At a March 9 committee meeting, then-Executive Director Cedric Grant, then-President Pro Tem Scott Jacobs and then-General Superintendent Joe Becker -- all of whom resigned or were fired after the flooding of Aug. 5 – reported that the massive turbines used to power the drainage pumps and some of the potable water pumps had gone down.

But there was no discussion of what happened at the full board meeting two days later. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said his two deputy mayors serving on the board, including Grant, failed to “ring the bell” and tell him about the emergency. Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Hebert said he approved the emergency declaration without knowing how significant that power failure was.

It turns out it was quite significant. Emergency repairs to Turbines No. 3 and 5 will cost $15.5 million, up from an initial estimate of $13.1 million. That’s just the cost of putting those two power sources in working order and doesn’t count the $40 million in federal money already approved to fully refurbish them.

“I mean these are old turbines,” Rainwater said. “The first one was bought (in the 1920s) when Calvin Coolidge was president.”

Then, after the widespread power and pump failures of Aug. 5, the board issued another emergency declaration, reporting that emergency work at the power plant, pump stations and additional staff and management teams would cost $35.4 million. Rainwater’s latest report says that cost has risen to $39.1 million.
So there is a lot of money flying around very fast ostensibly to speed up work that was originally expected to have finished up years ago. The firm contracted to do the turbine job is CH2M Hill.* From what I understand, they're about to be on their fourth project manager since taking over the gig.  All of this could be the sort of thing that attracts the attention of a federal prosecutor eventually.  That might depend who the US Attorney is, though. And on who his or her friends or enemies are at that time.

* According to the last round of campaign finance reporting CH2M Hill gave $1,000 each to the Cantrell and Charbonnet campaigns.

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