Moderator: Dennis Woltering, WWL-TV anchor
Sheriff Marlin Gusman: current Orleans Parish Sheriff, Chief Administrative Officer 1994-2000
Jed Horne, New Orleans Times-Picayune
Judge Terri Love, Chief Deputy City Attorney during Morial administration
Vincent Sylvain, Executive Assistant to Morial
Raised in the 7th ward and the son of the city’s first African-American mayor, Marc Morial was an attorney and served in the state legislature from 1992 to 1994 before defeating Donald Mintz in the 1994 run-off. Taking office amidst a crime epidemic and police corruption controversies, Morial vowed to clean up City Hall. He brought in Police Superintendent Richard Pennington to restructure the department and introduce new police tactics. Bond issues funded the streetcar line on Canal Street, an expansion of the Convention Center, sizable increases in the Recreation Dept., and street improvements, while his tenure saw tourism boom. Morial also receives credit for the relocation of the NBA’s Hornets to the city and efforts to improve city services. Re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1998, he made an unsuccessful attempt to amend the City Charter to add a third term and failed to keep city control of public housing. After leaving office, Morial became head of the National Urban League. Click here to view LEH’s interview with Marc Morial.Watch a video of the panel on Marc Morial, December 16, 2009 at the Louisiana Humanities Center
March 5, 1994: Defeats Donald Mintz in run-off with 54% of the vote.
October 14, 1994: Swears in Richard Pennington as Police Superintendent. Formerly chief of operations for the Washington, DC police dept., Pennington soon meets with FBI investigators to cooperate with probes into police corruption.
1994: Starts the Office of Public Advocacy, an information and referral department that kept information on local, state and federal departments and agencies to refer citizens. It handled requests and complaints about city government and monitored individual responses.
January 1995: Pennington announces implementation of a public integrity division to root out internal corruption; an early warning system to identify and monitor the behavior and conduct of police officers; new hiring standards for police recruits; new off-duty detail policy; and community policing in high crime public housing developments.
March 1995: NOPD Officer Antoinette Frank and an accomplice murder an off-duty officer and two others while robbing a restaurant. The murders mark a low point for the department.
November 1995: Harrah’s Casino declares bankruptcy, closing temporary location at Municipal Auditorium and stopping construction at Rivergate site.
1995: $300million bond issued to generate funds for city infrastructure and Orleans Parish schools. New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) receives $15m.
February 1996: US Dept. of Housing (HUD) declares city’s public housing authority (HANO) in breach of contract to improve HANO’s performance. HUD calls HANO housing stock “disproportionately substandard” and raises the prospect of a takeover. The Mayor and HUD negotiate a cooperative management agreement.
October 1996: NOPD announces restructuring by decentralizing all enforcement and investigative functions, holding commanders accountable and implementing the Computer Statistics (COMSTAT) program.
1997: Extends domestic partner benefits to city employees. In 1998, New Orleans becomes one of the earliest cities to add gender identity to its list of groups protected from discrimination.
February 7, 1998: Re-elected with 79% of vote.
October 1998: Files suit against Smith & Wesson gun manufacturer, the first suit of its kind and soon copied by other cities. Accusing the company of negligent marketing, nuisance, inadequate warning, and unreasonably dangerous design, the City loses in Louisiana and federal Supreme Court.
October 1999: Harrah’s opens new casino at foot of Canal Street.
2000: $177million bond issued to generate funds for law enforcement and infrastructure.
October 21, 2001: Attempt to add a third-term to the City Charter is defeated via public referendum.
2001: Downtown Development District begins multi-million dollar capital improvement project, leading to renovation of Canal Street and the return of the streetcar line in 2004.
2001: Morial elected president of US Conference of Mayors.
February 2002: City hosts Super Bowl after negotiating a delay due to 9/11 attacks.
April 2002: NBA approves Hornets move from Charlotte, NC.
2002: HUD takes control of HANO properties. The City loses a lawsuit to prevent the measure. The mayor and the Louisiana congressional delegation argue unsuccessfully for a judicial receivership.
March 2, 2002: C. Ray Nagin wins run-off against Chief Pennington to succeed Mayor Morial.