On Tuesday, Stacy Head and the low-budget trash queen of New Orleans, Veronica White went tete-a-tete at the City Council meeting. Yeah, that Miz White who has allowed the free range, full force demolition of New Orleans housing stock run unchecked. The Times Picayune reported the fireworks that flew Tuesday in chambers.
New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head accuses sanitation director of lying about garbage contract
by David Hammer, The Times-Picayune
Wednesday November 12, 2008, 12:27 PM
New Orleans sanitation director Veronica White stormed out of a budget hearing yesterday after a City Council member accused her of withholding requested information about garbage service, saying her contradictory testimony was grounds for dismissal.
Councilwoman Stacy Head said she has asked White for most of 2008 for an accurate list of addresses served by the department, which is key to determining the cost of garbage collection.
Council President Jackie Clarkson backed up that White had previously testified that the information wasn’t available, as did minutes from a previous council meeting. But at Tuesday’s hearing, White told the council that she receives monthly updates of how many addresses are served according to the terms of the collection contracts. White said the number is currently 106,500. Head was furious, saying that was the precise information the council had been asking White to provide for months.
“I have asked you for this no less than five times …” Head said.
“You never asked me for this,” White broke in.
“Ms. White, this is grounds for discharge,” Head said.
“You do what you have to do,” White responded angrily.
Head then threatened to have the inspector general review the record, to which White said, “Please do.” Head said she was concerned because the amount the city is paying to contractors is based upon 106,500 service locations, a number Head believes is way too high. When Head asked White to explain her estimate, she said she would “reserve my comments for the inspector general,” drawing raucous applause from orange-shirted garbage clean-up crews in the audience.
“You are not telling the truth, Ms. White,” Head said.
“You have a selective understanding and your motive is to paint a picture that everyone in this department is thieves and crooks when you are the one,” White said.
As White stormed out, Clarkson told Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Hatfield “this department head is out of order,” to which White shouted from the doorway, “The council member’s out of order.” White was making the case that despite the higher cost, the city’s $31 million budget for sanitation services was justified as compared to Jefferson Parish’s $18.5 million budget. She said the city’s service is better, and that if the council didn’t count the expensive French Quarter trash pick-up, the city’s sanitation costs would only be about $24 million.
White also said the added expense was due to the use of garbage trucks with mechanical arms. When Head asked her to explain the benefits of that service, White failed to give a direct answer, and the councilwoman’s frustration escalated. White eventually said the mechanized pickup is healthier for the workers, more efficient and avoids dropped garbage in the street.
Councilwomen Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis backed up White, saying the service had reduced complaints in their districts. Head contended that many sanitation workers lift the garbage cans by hand, anyway, and Clarkson said it was the larger bins, provided at no charge to residents, that made the difference, not the mechanical arms.
After White left, Head accused Hedge-Morrell and Willard-Lewis of constantly taking up for the Nagin administration and its contractors. Willard-Lewis said it was a “sad day,” saying Head instigated the conflict with “interrogation-style” questioning and should apologize to White. That prompted Head to say: “I’d like you every now and then to look at the facts and back up your colleagues when they’re lied to.”
When Hedge-Morrell interrupted Head, Head fired back. “I understand you see it as an obligation to defend these contracts,” Head said to Hedge-Morrell, who later said she was only trying, as the chairwoman, to defuse the situation. During a short break, Hedge-Morrell directed White to stay away from council chambers but asked Hatfield to return. When she did, Hatfield gave a tepid apology along with a request for more respect from Head.
So this morning while surfing around during some down time, the latest headline on NOLA.com reports that Hizzoner has injected himself into the c-c-c-c-cat fight. Seems Choco Ray must feel he hasn’t had any attention lately so off he fires a missive to Miz Head accusing her of race-baiting and verbally abusing the diva of trash. Or maybe Miz White called CRay in Florida and gave him such an earful, he had no choice but shoot off a one-sided e-mail to Head. Don’t these bureaucrats have anything better to do than beat each other up in the media?
Ray Nagin accuses New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head of verbally abusing sanitation director
by David Hammer, The Times-Picayune
Thursday November 13, 2008, 11:07 AM
Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin talks with City Councilwoman Stacy Head in Nov. 2006.
Mayor Ray Nagin has fired off an e-mail accusing New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head of verbally abusing Sanitation Director Veronica White at Tuesday’s council meeting. Nagin also accused Head of using “profanities” and “race-baiting” remarks, but acknowledges he has not reviewed a tape of the meeting and was not present.
The e-mail was addressed to Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. She said this afternoon she had no comment, but during Tuesday’s meeting she said it was White who was “out of line” and should apologize to Head. Nagin’s e-mail was also sent to the other six council members as well as several department heads.
A Times-Picayune reporter was present for the meeting and captured it on a digital audio recorder. In a review of the audio, there was no evidence that Head used any words generally accepted as “profanities,” and she makes no direct reference to race. Head is white and White is black. Nagin has not specified which comments he believes fell into those categories.
Head and White got into a heated exchange after White said she had monthly reports on the number of households getting trash services in the city, information that the councilwoman claimed she had formally requested multiple times but was told didn’t exist. The monthly reports are key to determining whether trash contractors are correctly charging the city for their services.
Below is Nagin’s email as provided to The Times-Picayune:
Dear Council President Clarkson:
I am writing you concerning a very disturbing event that occurred yesterday during a City Council budget hearing. It is my understanding that a council member verbally abused the City sanitation department head, used profanity, and boldly proclaimed very crude race-baiting remarks during a public meeting. I have not reviewed the full tape yet, but it has been reported that the employee was publicly chastised, threatened, belittled, and carelessly accused of being a liar in spite of any clear facts being presented.
I am formally requesting a copy of the videotape from this meeting and a formal investigation to include obtaining statements from all witnesses immediately. I also understand that the employee is traumatized and severely affected by this episode and is considering legal action as well as the filing of an EEOC complaint.
This type of behavior must stop immediately as I am instructing all department heads that if they are verbally assaulted or personally insulted at a council meeting that they should immediately leave. Tough questioning is generally appropriate. Personal attacks are just not acceptable. I also believe that professional rules for council members should be updated and enforced at all times.
The issues of our City’s recovery must be our focal point. We cannot allow mean-spirited accusations to destroy the integrity of hard-working public servants now or ever.
C. Ray Nagin – Mayor
Check out the mp3 embedded in the post. And yes, I have been watching too much of them low budget bitches on Bravo, The Real Housewives of Atlanta…