Such is life in a Banana Republic.
Anthony Jones, a constant source of controversy during his 18 months as [New Orleans'] technology chief, now stands accused of taking gratuities and doctoring invoices in an audit commissioned by his bosses at City Hall, yet he still heads a city department and makes $86,000 a year.
Last week, when the city's independent inspector general alleged years of questionable contracting and $4 million in overpayments for an often-inoperable network of crime cameras, Mayor Ray Nagin's administration released its own audit of the camera program. It focused almost entirely on the last two years of the project, when Jones was interim chief technology officer.
The most troubling findings by PFM Group of Philadelphia were that Jones filed false invoices to hide the camera project's costs, and accepted plane tickets to a conference in Colorado from a contractor that earned millions on the camera project in a no-bid arrangement. The report called those actions, which Jones denies, "potential misconduct and unlawful activity" and recommended that the city inform law enforcement.
Jones was demoted in August, mainly because he had falsely claimed to have a college degree. He also overstated the number of college credits he earned on at least one job application.
The department Jones now oversees, management information systems, found itself in the middle of a new controversy last week when administration officials revealed that the department was responsible for turning over thousands of City Council members' e-mail messages to Sanitation Director Veronica White, who in turn released them to activist lawyer Tracie Washington.
[New Orleans' sanitation contract is the political football du jour.]
The inspector general's report blames various city officials, including Jones and Hatfield, for their oversight of the camera-installation contract with LSI Research Inc. of Alabama.
LSI's winning bid was for purchase, installation and maintenance of clusters of eight cameras for $49,900 per cluster, just under a $50,000 threshold that would trigger a requirement for a state contractor's license.
The inspector general said the city skirted the requirement by acting as if that was the full price of LSI's deal, even though Jones planned to have LSI install many more cameras. Nagin had publicly stated he wanted 200 cameras.