Criminal District Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell clashed — again — with New Orleans City Council members and Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin last week. Kopplin said Morrell continues to go over his budget despite a citywide budget shortfall. During the City Council's July 10 joint criminal justice and budget committee meeting, Morrell accused the city of withholding funds for his office, while Kopplin said Morrell's office is on track to go more than $240,000 over its budget.
It was the latest skirmish in Morrell's ongoing fiscal battle with City Hall. In 2012, he sued the city for the return of 4 percent of his budget after that much was cut — even though several city agencies faced similar cuts. At the July 10 meeting, Morrell reminded Kopplin and council members that because he is a state elected official, the Legislature trumps the city.
"You don't know anything about the Criminal Court system," Morrell told council members. "The work we have to do is tremendous. ... The council can't tell me what to do."
District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry said Morrell didn't turn over requested budget information until the day of the meeting, and the council had no time to review it. — Alex Woodward