New Orleans City Councilman Arnie Fielkow didn't take long to reshuffle the council's committee deck upon taking over as council president last week. In the most visible change, Fielkow appointed himself as chair of the council's Budget and Audit Committee, replacing veteran Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who remains a member of the committee. The Budget Committee was often at the center of political storms during the tenure of former Mayor Ray Nagin, who overcame several council attempts to assert greater control over the city budget. In light of the city's $25 million budget shortfall this year, the Budget Committee will have its hands full.
Meanwhile, all seven council members will chair at least two committees each. Although she lost her chairmanship of the Budget Committee, Hedge-Morrell gained the chair of the Utility Committee, which oversees council regulation of Entergy, and the Airport Committee. Fielkow also will chair the Youth and Recreation Committee, which will oversee the revamping of the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD), as well as the Budget Committee. At-Large Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson will chair three committees — Competitive Selection, Criminal Justice, and Election Code and Reapportionment. The latter of those committees will suggest new council districts after the results of the 2010 Census are released.
Other committee chairs include:
• District B Councilwoman Stacy Head — Housing and Human Needs, and Public Works.
• New District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry — Cable and Telecommunications, and Governmental Affairs.
• New District C Councilwoman Kristin Palmer — Disaster and Recovery, Sanitation, and Transportation (taxicabs).
• New District E Councilman Jon Johnson — Economic Development, and Health Care. — Clancy DuBos