Archer's Clean Sweep
Former assistant City Attorney Gerard Archer, who resigned as a municipal prosecutor to run for 4th District assessor against incumbent Betty Jefferson, was the only assessorial challenger to win the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government. Archer pledged to push for consolidation of the seven assessors into one office and for mandatory certification of all assessors and deputy assessors in the state. The Alliance endorsement came one day after Archer and a group of approximately 25 volunteers raked, swept, bagged and hauled away two tractor-trailers full of trash on Magazine Street on March 13. The volunteers call themselves the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day "Day After" Krewe of Clean. They cleaned Magazine Street from Seventh Street to Louisiana Avenue, Archer said, adding, "Next year we hope to have 200 volunteers and the cooperation of Sanitation Department. We'll clean the entire parade route." -- DuBos

Voters Play Hardball, Too
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has promised to play "hardball" in the state's quest to increase the amount of offshore mineral royalties Louisiana receives from the federal government. Already there are bills in Congress to more than double Louisiana's share in some cases, but it has all been tried before. One reason it has failed in the past is because lawmakers want to maintain control of the money Louisiana would get. Another reason is because New Mexico's two senators, Republican Pete Domenici and Democrat Jeff Bingaman, control the Senate Energy Committee and have yet to come on board. That's why Laney Chouest, a native of Galliano and now a resident of the French Quarter, has launched In part, it's a letter-writing campaign to convince the senators. But it's also a launch pad for a major media campaign. "The two New Mexico senators do us in every year," Chouest says. "I am prepared to run commercials on New Mexico TV detailing some of the horrors we went through to try to motivate the voters there to get involved." Chouest, a former doctor who now runs an investment company in New Orleans, is part of the family who owns the vessel giant Edison Chouest Offshore. -- Alford

Just Checkin'
NOPD Deputy Chief Marlon Defillo has led the Public Integrity Bureau for just a few months, but already he is winning praise from skeptics who did not initially embrace Police Chief Warren Riley's appointment of Defillo -- the former public affairs commander -- to head the disciplinary unit of the troubled NOPD. "He's been a surprise," Rafael Goyeneche, president of the private Metropolitan Crime Commission, says of Defillo. "He's really taken to it." Goyeneche says Defillo's repeated use of surreptitious "integrity checks" is reminding cops on the street that no one is above the law or NOPD regulations. In fact, Goyeneche says, when NOPD patrol officers recently discovered they had apprehended an off-duty officer for stealing auto parts, a supervising sergeant called to make sure the apprehended officer was not part of an integrity check. In addition, cops who pass the field checks receive letters of congratulations -- several weeks after the encounters, to avoid detection. The affable Defillo, who served as NOPD's lead spokesman for 14 years, tells reporters nowadays, "Man, I miss you guys!" -- Johnson

Unused Money
Even though Hurricane Katrina remains front-page news and President Bush recently made his 10th visit to the devastated area, more than $1 billion designated for hurricane relief has gone unused by state governments, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit policy group. According to Jenni Bergal, who authored the report, Congress scrambled to pass an emergency bill that gave states access to $2 billion to help low-income hurricane victims scattered across the country, but only a dozen states -- including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- have taken the feds up on the offer during the five months the program has been operative. Furthermore, some large states, such as California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, never requested any of the "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families" money for evacuees. Meanwhile, elected officials and advocates for the poor keep arguing that low-income Katrina evacuees need all the help they can get. -- Alford

Slow Search for the Dead
The search for Katrina's dead continues in Orleans Parish, six months after the hurricane. What's taking so long? Fire Chief Steve Glynn, who directs the citywide search effort from a mobile command trailer in the Lower Ninth Ward, recently acknowledged several factors. "I think the scale of this disaster is unprecedented," Glynn says. "The fact that the operation was shut down obviously hurt. And there are still people calling in to report people missing." The Family Assistance Center in Baton Rouge continues to take approximately three new missing-persons reports each day. "People say my brother always calls me for my birthday but he didn't this time," says Dr. Louis Cataldie, the Louisiana state medical examiner. New missing-person reports are relayed to Glynn's search team. The vast scope of the destruction also can delay the search. "We might be able to clear a house in 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the condition of the house," the fire chief says. "Other houses might take us over a half a day." -- Johnson

Cadaver Dogs Due
Three specially trained teams and K-9 officers and their cadaver dogs are due to arrive Tuesday (March 20) from South Carolina -- reinforcements in the city's search for the dead. The additional dogs are expected to bring the number of police canine units to five, including one team from Missouri and another from Shreveport. Because of their keen sense of smell, cadaver dogs are invaluable in searches for decomposed bodies, authorities say. All K-9 officers will stay at the Doubletree Hotel, the only inn in the city with rooms for service dogs. The search, which resumed earlier this month after a three-month delay, suffered an unexpected setback that played out behind the scenes during President Bush's recent visit to New Orleans. Four out of five canine officers and their cadaver dogs, on loan from other states, were ordered home by their employers amid a dispute over who would pay for their hotel bills -- the state of Louisiana or the Federal Emergency Management Administration. "It was a misunderstanding," says Fire Chief Steve Glynn. "It's been resolved. Unfortunately, it wasn't resolved quickly enough." -- Johnson

Is that "G" for Governor?
So far, neither Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal nor former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Breaux has announced an intention to run for governor next year. In fact, the only declared candidate for governor -- besides Gov. Kathleen Blanco -- is Anthony "Tony G" Gentile. A recently converted Independent and "everyday person like you," Tony G is a refinery supervisor at ExxonMobil in Chalmette and has launched a Web site at His site states that he doesn't have a campaign budget, but he promises to canvas the state with a message of reform. -- Alford

Missed Anniversary
Overshadowed by Hurricane Katrina, no doubt, the 25th anniversary of the notorious "Algiers Incident" passed largely unnoticed. The police killing of four blacks during a November 1980 investigation into the murder of a police officer resulted in no convictions for the deaths. However, three officers were convicted of civil rights violations and sentenced to federal prison for what the sentencing judge called the "torturing" of potential witnesses. For years, the anniversary rekindled simmering resentments and debates between veteran cops and civil rights activists. Now, two key figures from that controversy, former federal prosecutor Morris Reed and former NOPD Deputy Chief David Kent, find themselves in the race for Clerk of Criminal District Court. Reed is a Democrat and a former Criminal Court judge who has run for numerous offices. Kent, a Republican, ran for a council-at-large seat 20 years ago. The primary election is April 22; any runoff will be May 20. -- Johnson

Costly Exemption
A bill passed during last month's special session with no opposing votes throughout the entire process could end up costing coastal parishes millions of dollars, according to local tax officials. Act 34 by veteran Rep. John Alario, a Westwego Democrat, expands an existing law exempting certain ships, vessels and barges from state and local sales and use taxes. Specifically, it added barges and drilling ships operating in foreign or interstate commerce to the tax-exempt column. Alario, who pushed the legislation as a simple "clarification," was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Late last month, tax officials in St. Charles Parish said they expect to lose about $500,000 annually from the change, and they added that coastal parishes could take a collective $20 million hit. Several coastal parishes don't yet know what to expect, but Lafourche Parish anticipates a decrease of $300,000 to $500,000 annually because of taxes that can no longer be levied on the supplies, services and repairs obtained by newly exempt barges. -- Alford

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