New Orleans City Council today voted 6-0 to establish a pay plan for the Police Office of Secondary Employment, creating four new classified positions in the city's civil service system. District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who had earlier expressed serious concerns about the office, was absent from today's council meeting.
The office — part of the city's Chief Administrative Office — is to be led by a fifth, unclassified employee: retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Salomone. Salomone's hiring was announced in late May in anticipation of the federal consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).
The office will be paid for, at least in part, with fees collected from police officers who work details, but those fees are yet to be announced. In an August 16 council budget committee meeting, Hedge-Morrell said she did not want to vote in favor of the pay plan until she knew how much the new detail system would cost officers.
“I feel very uncomfortable setting up all these payscales until I know how much they’re going to have to contribute," Hedge-Morrell said at the committee meeting. “Are we going to raise the cost? Because I think it’s very important to the officers who are depending on this income … that they don’t see a drastic reduction in what they make when they do those details.”
Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin replied that during consent decree negotiations, federal officials would only agree to allow police details if they were administered and overseen by City Hall. DOJ preferred to get rid of them altogether, Kopplin said.
(More after the jump)
“In the course of those negotiations, the Department of Justice made clear that police details in the city of New Orleans would only be allowed to continue under certain conditions," Kopplin said.
The pay plan: DetailOfficePayPlan.pdf
The DOJ on Wednesday submitted to U.S. District Court a draft request for proposals (RFP) for a contracted monitor who will oversee the implementation of the consent decree. City officials have already set aside $1 million in this year's budget to pay for the monitor. The monitor is expected to cost a total of $10 million over five years.
(The consent decree itself is still awaiting final approval by federal Judge Susie Morgan. Morgan has scheduled an August 29 hearing on the proposed agreement.)
According to court filings, the city and the DOJ held three status conferences in late July and early August but were unable to agree on one point about the selection process for the monitor. The disagreement involves the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, established to increase city vendor diversity.
From DOJ's filing:
While both the United States and the City are committed to a requirement that Disadvantage Business Enterprises (“DBEs”) have the opportunity to participate in this project, the City believes that only DBEs certified by the City’s DBE system should be eligible for selection. The United States believes that all DBEs should be given the opportunity to participate, whether they are certified pursuant to the City’s system, or another DBE system. The City’s list of certified DBEs consists almost entirely of organizations in southern Louisiana.
The current draft RFP, however, addresses the disagreement, the filing says.
Businesses that are not currently certified as DBEs would be permitted to seek certification from the City through an expedited process. This would achieve the mutual goal of DBE participation, without unnecessarily narrowing the pool of DBE’s eligible to participate.
Read the DOJ's proposed RFP: DOJRFP.pdf