Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Amendments on Oct 4 ballot

From: Michael Cowan
Sent: Saturday, September 20, 2008 7:31 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: A decisive vote

Dear Common Good leaders,

In just over one week, New Orleans voters will have the opportunity to cast what may be the most important vote in the history of local government. That vote will not be to elect a candidate but rather to change decisively the way two important institutions—City Hall and NOPD—function. On the October 4th ballot will be an amendment to the city charter that will protect the newly established Office of the Inspector General from political interference by future mayors and city councils, whose decisions the inspector general will be monitoring. The amendment will also establish an independent monitor for the NOPD, who will report to the inspector general.

We need an independent inspector general because most citizens and business owners, and many state and national elected officials, perceive New Orleans city government as wasteful and contaminated by patronage and corruption. Unless this perception is changed, local residents and business owners, as well as potential public and private outside investors, will continue to be reluctant to bet on the future of New Orleans. The future of the city hinges on those investments.

We need an independent police monitor now because trust between the police department and residents of some New Orleans’ neighborhoods is so low that many people will not report crime or testify against criminals because they feel that they have been treated disrespectfully or brutally by police officers, while others feel that the police are not doing enough to protect them. Our crime problem cannot be effectively addressed without trust between citizens and police. An independent monitor’s office is a nationally recognized way of rebuilding that trust.

Members of the city council are appearing with Inspector General Robert Cerasoli on the following dates to speak briefly with citizens about this important vote and answer your questions. Please invite your members and associates to attend one.

Council member Mr. Fielkow, 9/23, 6:00 p.m., Touro Synagogue, 4238 St. Charles Avenue
Council member Carter, 9/24, 6:30 p.m., St. Jude Community Center, 411 N. Rampart
Council member Head, 9/27, 10:00 a.m., 2020 Jackson Avenue
Council member Midura, 9/29, 6:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal Street

The Common Good network of institutions has worked with council member Shelley Midura and other elected officials for the establishment of an inspector general’s office for almost three years, and actively supported the efforts of council member James Carter to establish the independent police monitor for the past year. On October 4th, the citizens of New Orleans can provide these two critical offices with the maximum independence possible under city, state and federal law.

Please do all that you can to encourage local voters to seize this rare opportunity to make New Orleans a city that operates fairly and effectively for all her citizens.

For the common good,
Michael Cowan
Loyola University

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