The “I’s” Have It

Ed Quatrevaux
Ed Quatrevaux

Lately, we have started to consider a number of terms the “I” in IG stands for: Insolent, Impudent, Impertinent, Illogical, Immoral, Illegal, Inappropriate, Incorrect, Insulting, Irrational…

Wait, has the “I” button on the keyboard jammed?

No, good…Ill-chosen, Improper, Inapposite, Inapt,

Susan Hutson
Susan Hutson

Incompatible, Ill-mannered, Incongruent, Inconsistent, Irrelevant, Immaterial and Invalid.

That’s only because IG Ed Quatrevaux certainly appears to be shaping up as the “General” of any and all of those descriptors.

The latest antic—attempting to call out the Independent Police Monitor’s Office (IPMO) for not turning over its reports, findings and information to his office—the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). If anyone has a right to be Indignant, Incensed, Infuriated, Irate and Irritated, it’s the people of New Orleans.

According to media reports, in a letter to City Councilwoman Susan Guidry, Quatrevaux questions the contents of IPMO reports written by police monitor Susan Hutson. He is further concerned that Hutson believes that her office does not answer to his. For her part, Hutson had a few concerns of her own, claiming that the OIG’s office has tried to commandeer IPMO investigations and reports in the past with political motivation.

Well, kudos to Hutson for having the presence of mind to stand up to Quatrevaux and tell him to mind his own ever-loving business (our words, not hers, but we bet she was thinking it).

So now ol’ Ed wants clarification (code for he wants a rubber stamp for his brazen, cheeky and erroneous position) from the New Orleans City Council on whether the Independent Police Monitor’s Office answers to him.

Of course, we know that these legislative leaders are paid good money to employ ardent efforts to resolve daunting issues like the one above. But at The Tribune, we are thinking if we solve this problem for them, they could busy themselves with some other important work for the people of New Orleans. So, let us take a stab at it: Uh…Hell, no, Ed!

Hutson was hired in 2010 to fill a position specifically created by a vote of the people of New Orleans to look into complaints and concerns regarding the NOPD. That is how and why the IPMO was created. But wait, that’s the same way the OIG was created—a vote of the people to change the city charter to establish the office. To suggest that Hutson must answer to Quatrevaux is akin to saying city councilmembers must answer to the mayor. They could and should work together for good of the people of this city, but to suggest that the IPMO kowtows to the OIG is wide off the mark. Uh, Inaccurate.

The office Hutson leads is called Independent Police Monitor. Now, this is no attempt to suggest that the office has worked magic since its creation. Yes, there is likely room for improvement, but Ed Quatrevaux and the OIG are in not in any position to oversee another office created by the people of New Orleans to act independently on their behalf in matters related to police conduct. Still not sure we’re on the side of right with this one. Well, with the help of Merriam Webster on-line, we will even define “independent”, especially for Ed, as he seems not to understand what that “I” word means.

“Independent: not dependent: as a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing (2) : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit <an independent bookstore>
b (1) : not requiring or relying on something else : not contingent <an independent conclusion> (2) : not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct (3) : not bound by or committed to a political party.”

At the end of the day, Quatrevaux ought to answer to the same people Huston does—the people of New Orleans whose electoral power and hard earned money turned tax dollars created and sustain their offices. Instead, he is more concerned with broadening his power.

And it’s all a crying shame because if city government would just be about TCB, we wouldn’t need the OIG or the IPMO. And for Pete’s sake would someone in City Hall with some G-U-T-S rein Quatrevaux in ASAP.

Hope Fades

Here we were hopeful that BESE member and local Teach for America executive Kira Orange Jones would take a page from former state board of ethics vice chairman and Tulane University employee Scott Schneider and resign one of the positions that create a conflict of interest in her role on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

We were so wrong.

Not only has she not been forced to abandon her local role as a TFA executive in order to keep her BESE seat, Orange Jones has now assumed state-wide responsibility for the national organization that has built its reputation recruiting mostly young, often unprepared individuals to “teach” with the lure of college loan forgiveness. (What TFA really stands for: Two-years, debt-Free, Abscond.)

Recap: Orange Jones served as the head of the New Orleans TFA office prior to her election to BESE (the result of a well-funded campaign by local and outside entities with an interest in expanding so-called education reform measures that have done little more than privatize public education to the detriment of the very children they claim it would help). After she won the election, astute onlookers correctly noted that Orange Jones should give up her job with TFA as the state of Louisiana has contracts with TFA to supply its recruits in classrooms across the state and especially here in New Orleans. So the question goes before the ethics board, whose very own staff says that Orange Jones positions with TFA and BESE clash. Then, in what must have been a head-spinning meeting, Schneider argues against the ethics board’s own staff position, passionately pleading Orange Jones’ case for maintaining both posts, arguing that because she was not the head of the national office her role with TFA does not conflict with her BESE membership.

Really? If that ethics board meeting were a text message, someone would have surely inserted “LOL” after Schneider finished talking.

But the truth is, it was no laughing matter; and it is easy to see how Schneider could gloss over Orange Jones’ conflict of interest as he gave little consideration to his own. He lobbied to allow Orange Jones to maintain both posts despite staff recommendation when what he should have been doing was recusing himself from the matter altogether given his job as assistant general counsel for Tulane University, which through its Cowen Institute has a partnership with TFA and has played a role in the spreading of the education reforms that have made it easier for the national organization to establish its extreme presence in this city and state.

A few weeks after we called Schneider out in the pages of The Tribune, he resigned from the ethics board. And we were encouraged, optimistic even, that Orange Jones would also come to her senses and stop taking the people of New Orleans and Louisiana for a ride. The bottom line is that as an executive for TFA at any level—national, state or local—she cannot and will not act on any issues involving TFA that come before BESE in an unbiased and fair-minded way. Her dual positions are unethical. Bottom line. But thanks to Schneider’s ability to sway his fellow ethics board members, she has been allowed to maintain them.

So why shouldn’t she take on state-wide responsibilities? Hell, Kira Orange Jones should just become the executive director of the national TFA office as it is obvious that fair-mindedness, objectivity and parity are words that mean absolutely nothing in Louisiana and New Orleans—especially when it comes to ramrodding an unfair, unequal reform agenda that has nothing to do with education down the throats of the people of our city and state.

Hope hardly floats. And though any chance that our state will put a halt to its misguided education reform efforts any time soon seems dim, it only strengthens our resolve to speak the truth to and for our community…especially when no one else will dare to.

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