Nashville Prosecutor Next New Orleans Government Watchdog

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Tennessee prosecutor has been chosen as the next inspector general for New Orleans.

Derry Harper, an assistant district attorney general in Nashville, was chosen for the job Wednesday by the city's Ethics Review Board.

Harper replaces Ed Quatrevaux as the city's independent government watchdog.

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The New Orleans Advocate reports that the vote was 6-1 for Harper after a vote for another candidate, interim Inspector General Howard Schwartz, failed 3-4.

Members who voted against Schwartz cited a need for the office to start anew, given his central role in a public spat with Quatrevaux, who has retired. Schwartz authored a report accusing a former colleague of corruption. Quatrevaux and Schwartz have been at odds over whether Schwartz engineered the report to line himself up as Quatrevaux's replacement.

The report, leaked in July, accused an IG office staffer of approaching audits with preconceived agendas and funneling lucrative contracts to friends.

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Schwartz has maintained that it was Quatrevaux who gave him the OK to investigate.

"It's a hard decision for me because I do believe that Howard Schwartz has been put in a position not wrought by himself," board member Allen Miller said. "But my fiduciary responsibility is for the office. I think Mr. Harper demonstrates to me a CEO mentality, someone who is transformative."

Harper, 63, was one of more than two dozen candidates who applied to replace Quatrevaux after the board that oversees the IG's Office put out a call for applications early this year.

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"My prime directive is, I can't do this alone," he said Wednesday. "It's to identify problems and fix them. It's to restore, and to earn the trust and respect of this community, and make a difference."

Wednesday's meeting also included discussions of recent claims from Quatrevaux that Miller, a lawyer who is the board's chairman, had improperly represented the Sewerage & Water Board, an agency the IG's office oversees, while serving on the ethics panel. Miller was critical of a report Quatrevaux released this year strongly attacking the S&WB.

The board's general counsel, Dane Ciolino, said that Miller had never participated in votes about the S&WB and that, according to his review, Miller's work with the S&WB does not qualify as a conflict of interest.

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