ERB Elects New Officers

On August 17, 2016, the City of New Orleans Ethics Review Board selected the following new officers.


MillerAllen C. Miller, J.D.
Board Chair
Partner, New Orleans Office
Phelps Dunbar LLP

Allen Miller practices in the area of commercial litigation. He concentrates his practice in the areas of general business torts; products liability; casualty litigation, banking and lender liability; class-action litigation; bankruptcy litigation; construction litigation and contracts; civil RICO; trade secrets litigation; professional malpractice; and a wide variety of other corporate litigation matters. He has extensive experience in complex commercial matters. Mr. Miller has handled a substantial number of cases from inception through resolution at trial, appeal and alternative dispute resolution where appropriate. His experience includes, without limitation, first chair litigation counsel in numerous bench and jury trials in state and federal court. He is solely responsible for the litigation strategy and handling of cases for several institutional firm clients, and regularly supervises commercial litigation associates and paralegals. His memberships and affiliations include: Louisiana State Bar Association, Minority Involvement Section, New Orleans Bar Association, American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Federal Bar Association (Board of Directors, Eastern District of Louisiana), International Association of Defense Counsel, Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel, Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel Trial Advocacy (Faculty Member, 2006 – Present), and National Institute of Trial Advocacy (Faculty Member, 2004 – Present). He is a “40 Under 40” Award Recipient (National Bar Association) as well as “40 Under 40” Award Recipient by Gambit Weekly. Past community service includes membership on the boards of Odyssey House of Louisiana, Inc., as Vice-President and Executive Committee Board Member, and WRBH Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped. Mr. Miller is a graduate of Southern University Law Center and Xavier University. Mr. Miller’s term will expire June 30, 2018. He is a nominee of Xavier University.


BrownJames A. Brown, J.D.
Board Vice-Chair
Shareholder, New Orleans
Liskow & Lewis

James A. Brown is a shareholder with the New Orleans law firm of Liskow & Lewis, P.L.C., and heads the firm’s Commercial Litigation Section as well as its Professional Liability Practice Group. He also serves as the firm’s General Counsel and formerly served on the Board of Directors. Mr. Brown is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and other national professional and honorary organizations. He is the Chair of the American Bar Association Presidential Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability. Mr. Brown is an adjunct professor of trial advocacy and torts at the Louisiana State University Law Center and is a member of the New Orleans, Louisiana, and American Bar Associations. He serves as a member of the Advisory Council for the LSU Honors College. Mr. Brown received his B.A. degree, summa cum laude and valedictorian, from Louisiana State University in 1981. He received his J.D. from the LSU Law Center in 1984. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Volume 44 of the Louisiana Law Review and as law clerk to the Honorable Alvin B. Rubin, Circuit Judge, United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1984-1985. He and his wife of 35 years, Kelly, have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. Nominated to the ERB by the University of New Orleans, Mr. Brown’s term will expire June 30, 2019.


BoutinRev. Brandon Boutin
Board Secretary
First Pastor & Pastor of Ministries
Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church

Reverend Brandon M. Boutin currently serves as the First Assistant Pastor & Pastor of Ministries at Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA, under the leadership of Dr. Debra B. Morton, and Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr. Rev. Boutin is a graduate from St. Augustine High School, Xavier University of LA, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1999, he became a licensed minister and in 2006 was ordained as an elder. Deeply concerned about people, on a daily basis Rev. Boutin may be found in community meetings, on speaking engagements, speaking on college campuses, participating in youth activities, conducting a funeral, wedding, or counseling. Rev. Boutin is a nominee of Dillard University; his term will expire June 30, 2015.

2015 Annual Report

The Ethics Review Board of the City of New Orleans (ERB) has responsibility for overseeing the Office of Inspector General (OIG), enforcing the city’s ethics code, and promoting ethics awareness through education and training.

On July 20, 2016, the ERB released its annual report for 2015, which is available for download here: 2015-00-00 ERB Annual Report.

Ethics Training

The ERB’s work in 2015 included the launching of the Ethics Review Board’s ethics training for city employees, elected and appointed officials, and members of boards and commissions. The training is based on the use of ethical dilemmas associated with real-life circumstances posing ethical dilemmas of the kind that city employees and officials, members and staffs of boards and commissions, and others might be expected to encounter in their specific situations, as well as exposure to relevant ethical provisions of the city and state ethics codes. Recipients are selected and training is designed in consultation with the ERB and conducted by the Hackett Group, a local consulting firm. In December of 2015 the first two ethics training sessions occurred for members of the city’s Department of Safety and Permits. A total of 31 city inspectors took part in sessions on December 14 or 21. A summary of evaluations by 2015 participants is available for inspection on the ERB website ( In preparation for becoming state-certified ethics trainers, members of the Hackett Group took part in trainings sponsored by the State of Louisiana. As of this writing training sessions have been completed in 2016 for 25 support service and engineering personnel of the Sewerage and Water Board and 25 engineers and managers in that same agency. Plans are being made for 15-20 members of the mayor’s office, the city council and the finance department to take part in the training in the coming year.

Independent Police Monitor

The year also brought intense public discussion about whether the Office of Independent Police Monitor (OIPM) should remain within the Office of Inspector General or be separated from it. The result of this debate was a decision by city council to place a charter amendment on the ballot in November 2016. The measure would provide for the separation of the OIPM from the OIG and the assignment of agreed portions of the money set aside annually by charter for operation of the OIG, OIPM and ERB. In the new institutional arrangements, the OIPM would report to the ERB, as the OIG now does, and presumably be subject to the same accountability as the OIG. The council also passed an ordinance requiring that ERB members file annual financial disclosure statements.

Staff Changes

In October 2015, the ERB retained attorney Dane S. Ciolino as its general counsel. A respected expert in legal and governmental ethics, he is a professor in the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. His expertise will add great value to the work of the ERB.

As a matter of efficiency, the ERB decided not to replace its former full time executive director, accepting instead the offer of Inspector General Quatrevaux to assign a member of his staff, Ms. Jessica Lang, to assist the ERB part time. As of the end of 2015, the arrangement was working well. It will be reviewed annually.


I noted in previous reports that, while the relationship between an inspector general and public officials will inevitably include tensions, it need not be adversarial. In the arena of government ethics, the best of possible worlds is a strong, independent office of inspector general and a senior elected official who sees that office as an ally in the quest for effective, efficient, fair and law-abiding government. Those powerful stars continue to be aligned in New Orleans. This matters because around the world, good government has been shown not just to make government less wasteful and corrupt, but also to increase economic opportunity and reduce racial and other inter-group tensions. Whoever cares about those two matters cannot allow waste and corruption to contaminate public institutions.

Should you have comments, questions or suggestions for the Ethics Review Board, I encourage you to visit our website click on “Contact” and complete the comment form. If you would prefer to call, our number is (504) 681-3208.

Michael A. Cowan, Ph.D.
Ethics Review Board, City of New Orleans

City Council Incorporates into City Code of Ethics Certain Provisions of the State Code of Ethics

On April 7, 2016, the City Council adopted an ordinance incorporating into the City of New Orleans Code of Ethics (by reference) certain provisions of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics. The ordinance, which was published in the City of New Orleans Code of Ordinances in June 2016, provides as follows:

Sec. 2-745. – Incorporation of State Code of Ethics.

The City Code of Ethics adopts and incorporates by reference the following parts of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics, Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 42, Chapter 15: Part I (General Provisions); Part II (Ethical Standards for Public Servants); and Part IIa (Unethical Election Practices).

The City of New Orleans Ethics Review Board (“ERB”) recommended the adoption of this ordinance at its meeting on December 16, 2015, and wrote to the Council with its recommendation on December 22, 2015. See 2015-12-22 Ciolino Letter to City Council re ERB Enforcement Authority. The ERB’s reasons for recommending this ordinance are set forth below.

Under the Louisiana Constitution, only the Louisiana Board of Ethics is empowered to enforce the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics. Article 10, section 21 of the state constitution provides as follows:

The legislature shall enact a code of ethics for all officials and employees of the state and its political subdivisions. The code shall be administered by one or more boards created by the legislature . . . .

See La. Const. art. 10, § 21 (1974). Interpreting this provision, the Louisiana Board of Ethics has previously advised the ERB that the ERB is not empowered to enforce the state ethics code.

The state constitution does not, however, prohibit local codes of conduct or local ethics ordinances. Moreover, state statutory law expressly permits such codes or ordinances. Louisiana Revised Statues section 33:9612.1 provides that:

The governing authority of a local governmental subdivision may adopt and enforce local codes of conduct or ethics ordinances. Any such code or ordinance may regulate the same or similar activity as regulated by the provisions of the Code of Governmental Ethics, R.S. 42:1101 et seq., subject to the provisions of this Section.

See La. Rev. Stat. § 33:9612.1(A).

Empowered by this statute—and unconstrained by the state constitution—the City of New Orleans has undertaken to “regulate the same or similar activity as regulated by the provisions of the [state] Code of Governmental Ethics.” Id. Indeed, the City’s Home Rule Charter mandates that “[t]he [city] Code of Ethics shall incorporate by reference and adopt the provisions of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics and shall provide for such other, more stringent provisions as the Council may deem appropriate.” See Home Rule Charter of the City of N.O. art. IX § 9-402(2).

Although the Home Rule Charter requires the City Council to incorporate by reference” and to “adopt” the provisions of the state ethics code, it has not done so. The Code of Ordinances of the City of New Orleans merely references the state ethics code as an independent set of standards governing the conduct of city employees. The Code of Ordinances does not, however, expressly “incorporate” or “adopt” the substance of the state ethics code. See N.O. Code of Ord. § 2-741 (noting that the state code exists and observing that it “applies to all officials and employees of the city”); id. § 2-742 (requiring the city’s CAO to distribute the state ethics code to city officials); id. § 2-743 (requiring the city’s CAO to advise officials and employees how to obtain advisory opinions from the state ethics board); id. § 2-744 (noting that the city’s ethics code is intended only to supplement the state ethics code); id. § 2-774 (noting that other “laws, rules, and policies established by the federal and state government . . . prescribe standards of conduct for government and city employees”). Indeed, “Subdivision III. City Code of Ethics” of the Code of Ordinances makes no effort to “incorporate” or to “adopt” provisions of the state ethics code.

To comply with the city’s Home Rule Charter, the ERB recommended that the Council adopt an ordinance incorporating by reference and adopting the substantive provisions of the state ethics code. More particularly, the ERB requested that the Council amend “Subdivision III. City Code of Ethics” to include a section with this language:

Section 2-7XX. The City Code of Ethics adopts and incorporates by reference the following parts of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics, Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 42, Chapter 15: Part I (General Provisions); Part II (Ethical Standards for Public Servants); and, Part IIa (Unethical Election Practices).

Quality Assurance Advisory Committee Releases Report for 2014

On April 18, 2016, the Quality Assurance Advisory Committee issued a report assessing the 2014 written work product of the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) and Office of the Independent Polict Monitor (“OIPM”). See 2016-04-18 ERB Quality Assurance Review Advisory Committee Report for 2014. The committee conducted a review of public letters and investigations, audits and reviews, follow-up reports, and inspections and evaluations. As to the OIG, the committee concluded:

Overall, our Committee believes the reports of the OIG provided a valuable service to the City of New Orleans. The written work we have reviewed meets high standards of quality. These reports have also opened up important areas for reform and debate for the citizens of New Orleans.

As to the OIPM, the committee “reached both positive and negative conclusions.” See id.