"You know it's bad. You just don't realize how bad."



The first report by New Orleans inspector general Robert A. Cerasoli -- about the use of city-owned vehicles and gasoline credit cards -- is set to drop within an hour, and according to Kevin Wildes, the chairman of the New Orleans Ethics Review Board (and president of Loyola University): "You know it's bad. You just don't realize how bad."

Cerasoli, who was hired by the Ethics Review Board more than a year ago, has been conducting parallel investigations on a variety of subjects, but the city cars report is his first release to the public. Wildes, who has read Cerasoli's report, did not go into specific details, but told Gambit, "There are no systems in place to control anything. They don't even know how many cars they have, much less have any controls over them."

Cerasoli and the Ethics Board plan to have a hotline for citizen tips up and running by the beginning of 2009, and Wildes says that's just the beginning for what promises to be a very busy year for the board: "Our agenda for this year is looking at what's in the city code about ethics and trying to make suggestions to City Council. But this [today's city vehicle report] is at least something we can give to the public right now."

Gambit has learned that a second report from the inspector general on a different matter is expected within weeks, perhaps by year's end, but Wildes had no comment on either the subject of the report, nor the timing of its release.

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