S&WB interim director to be replaced, 3 deputy directors resign in staffing shakeup

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NEW ORLEANS - Three Sewerage and Water Board deputy directors have stepped down amid an ongoing scandal about a recent round of pay raises, and the interim executive director will soon be replaced.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the big staffing shakeup this morning at a press conference called just hours after deputy directors Valerie Rivers, Sharon Judkins, and Ronald Doucette handed in their resignations.

Rivers, Judkins and Doucette got significant pay raises in July, according to Nola.com, at a time when the Sewerage and Water Board has lost credibility among residents and is shutting off water to delinquent customers, some of whom have ongoing billing disputes.

Cantrell also announced that retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral David Callahan has been named new interim executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board, replacing current interim executive Jade Brown Russell.

Ghassan Korban will take the reins as permanent executive director in September.

Callahan has experience in post-Katrina New Orleans, Cantrell said, making him “the top choice at this time to ensure that we right the ship, that we stay focused on new leadership that is joining the Sewerage and Water Board, and we’re doing it with real precision as well as intentionally, because the citizens of this city deserve to trust their utility as it relates to the Sewerage and Water Board.”

The board will soon meet to make Callahan's appointment official, Cantrell said, while the trio of resignations were effective immediately.

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