Jail Fight Between the Sheriff and the Mayor

Thursday morning, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu described an “us against them” situation.  Landrieu grouped the council, city residents, and himself in the “us” category.

“The sheriff, Department of Justice, federal judges are all lining up to tell us, the tax payers of the city, to write a blank check,” Landrieu told council members.

Early that afternoon, Sheriff Marlin Gusman responded during a news conference with the jail’s post-Katrina inmate tents serving as a backdrop.

“I’m insulted by the mayor’s lack of leadership,” Gusman said.

The two are on opposite sides of the federal consent decree issue.  The city already allocated $55 million to fulfill the NOPD’s consent decree.  But the Sheriff’s Department also has an agreement with the feds, and Landrieu says, while the city was left out of the discussion, it must fit the bill.

“The only response we received was a demand of $17 million or $18 million or $19 million or $22 million or maybe even more,” Landrieu told council members of the flow of information.

jail“I have no idea where he got that from,” Gusman responded during his news conference while also saying the Mayor’s Office was represented at every meeting.

Landrieu says the city simply does not have the funds to cover the cost of the OPSO consent decree.  He says if the Department of Justice forces the city to come up with the cash during its current fiscal year, there would be layoffs, cuts to services, and tax increases.

Gusman is unmoved by Landrieu’s burden.  He says the OPSO has received the short end of the budget stick for far too long.

“Our day of reconning has arrived,” Gusman said.