WHY IS A.P.E. SUING THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS OVER THE UNIFORM CONTRACT?
Part IV: Improper Participation
This one will be short and sweet, promise.
From the City Code of Ethics:
"Financial interest" is a term broad in scope. While researching our lawsuit, we found that many -if not all- entities choose to define it as broadly as possible in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Even a less broad application would still apply to rewarding contracts to spouses.
Sec. 2-777. - Prohibited financial interests.No city officer or employee shall have a financial interest in any contract with the city, and no contract for professional or other services shall be awarded on the basis of fee kickbacks.
There are two city employees who have a financial interest in this contract. One is a spouse of a Signal 26 owner. Obviously, "city employee is spouse of contract holder" meets the qualification of financial interest; ask any business owner who has lost half his or her business in a divorce. The other co-owns a house that is pledged to guarantee the Signal 26 business in a business loan. As for the other city employee, co-owning a house with the owner of a business that has a city contract may seem small. However, a typical broad application of the policy would also make Signal 26 ineligible on this front.
Yet again, the City of New Orleans failed to do its due diligence and now has violated its own Code of Ethics. Hopefully it was an accident, but of course the City Attorney denied anything was even wrong in court.
A.P.E.'s request for preliminary injunction goes before the Court of Appeals tomorrow morning (01/07/14). We'd like to think the judges can see what is going on here and do what's right, but just in case, fingers are crossed.
Be careful out there.