N.O. Crime Surprises I.G.


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By Allen Johnson

Local U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and James Bernazzani, head of the Louisiana FBI, have been tirelessly promoting the city’s first Inspector General, Robert Cerasoli, and not just because it’s good to have another watchdog around. The feds hope Cerasoli will cut their workload by torpedoing fat city contracts that don’t pass the proverbial “smell test.” They aren’t the only ones boosting Cerasoli. Last month, conservative Washington columnist Robert Novak wrote that Cerasoli’s “imposing presence” means that “life in the Big Easy will no longer be so easy.” In a Feb. 14 column for The Washington Post, Novak called Cerasoli “the nation’s foremost inspector general” and added that Cerasoli told him he was amazed when he arrived in New Orleans because “just about everybody I met had been the victim of a holdup.” Novak added that Cerasoli “wondered why crime was much more rampant in New Orleans than in Atlanta, a larger city with a smaller police force.” Cerasoli may need to call Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington — the former top cop at NOPD — for answers to that one. 


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