Apparently, a group of New Orleans judges are out to get Mayor Mitch Landrieu. At least that is what Landrieu believes, according to his high-profile interview with Lee Zurik.
After being held in contempt of court by Civil District Judge Kern Reese for failing to devise a plan to pay New Orleans firefighters $142 million in backpay that they have been owed since the 1990’s, Landrieu is now claiming the entire case is a “judicial coup.”
Landrieu, whose administration is appealing the ruling, says that Reese violated the principle of separation of powers when he enforced a former ruling by Judge Michael Bagneris, which mandated that Landrieu pay the firefighters.
But, to Landrieu, it’s all a conspiracy, designed to take him down. Here’s what he told Zurik about the possible connection of politics with the rulings:
“I’m going to let you talk to the judge about that. You know the facts, you’ve followed that campaign. You know that the judges wanted a new courthouse; I said no. You know Judge Bagneris was so upset that he stopped and he ran against me. You’re going to have to figure that out yourself. I’m not going to impugn the judge’s motives. But you should ask him that,” Landrieu told Zurik.
After making the case that the judicial branch was simply going after him for political reasons, Landrieu then said that all of it has really nothing to do with him and everything to do with judges taking over the city’s executive branch.
“So, let’s be clear about this,” he continues. “This is not about me. This is the judiciary, securing the executive branch of government. That’s what this is.”
As NOLA.com’s Robert McClendon perfectly notes, Landrieu has continued to claim that this case has everything to do with the New Orleans firefighters’ flawed pension system.
However, that is not the case.
The $75 million, plus another $67 million in interest, derives specifically from decades-long state-mandated backpay that the city was supposed to be paying the firefighters, but never did.
New Orleans firefighters have been fighting for that backpay from the city of New Orleans for decades and won their fight in 2014 in a court battle. Yet, Landrieu has still not payed the amount, though he continues to say that he negotiated multiple times with the firefighters.