Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Harrah's Board of Zoning Adjustments

Or Hold Him to His Own Standards Pt. 3

New Orleans City Council Announcement:


May 14, 2007

TO: Councilmember Shelley Stephenson Midura, Chair

Governmental Affairs Committee

Councilmember-At-Large Oliver M. Thomas, Jr.

Councilmember-At-Large Arnie Fielkow

Councilmember James Carter, Alternate

FROM: Nathan Carter, Analyst

SUBJECT: Governmental Affairs Committee Meeting


The City Council's Governmental Affairs Committee will convene on Wednesday, May 16, 2007 at 10:30 a.m. in the City Council Chamber. The agenda will include the following items:

I. Appointments

· Board of Zoning

i. Carla Major

ii. Robert Simms

· Industrial Development Board

i. Farrell J. Catelain

I don't mean to cast any aspersions on Carla Major's character, she's a respected citizen who's been involved in community affairs for years. I have no reason to question her integrity, but she is a Harrah's New Orleans executive.

She's also been on the Board of Zoning Adjustments since a charter change expanded the size of the board from five to seven members in 1996. Let's review, Billboard Ben has been a Sewerage & Water Board Member since the Barthelemy administration, but the mayor has made no move to replace him , even though his term has expired. The mayor nominated his campaign manager and business partner, David White, for another term on the Aviation Board and the council approved the re-appointment. That's at least three long-term members that the mayor has decided to retain on powerful boards. Yet, when mayor decided to replace the head of the library board, his CAO said that he wanted to "inject" the city's boards and commissions with "new blood" to avoid "entrenchment."

Update: An emailer made a point much better than I did:
I just think most people would be surprised that Harrah’s execs are beoing appointed to the Board of Zoning Adjustments, that rules on excepts to rules – when Harrah’s history in NOLA has been all about getting exceptions to the rules….

The issue isn't Carla Major -- it's debatable whether she should have resigned from the board when she took a position at Harrah's. But considering how often Harrah's goes before the BZA, it certainly seems questionable to re-appoint a Harrah's exec to the BZA.

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