I think of Michael J. Fox and Charlie Sheen when I hear the term "Deputy Mayor," but methinks Mayor-Elect Mitch is onto something here:
As Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu counts down the days to his May 3 inauguration, he is giving serious consideration to reshaping the traditional division of duty at City Hall by creating deputy mayor positions.
Though the management approach has never been used in New Orleans, the practice is old hat in many cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Newark, N.J.
Sounds like a great way to accomplish a number of tasks. You get people into city government at a high and visible level. That attracts the best-and-brightest sort. It also means a Deputy Mayor position would be a great platform from which someone could launch their own campaign for mayor or council. That's necessary here in New Orleans, where we've been lacking platforms that expose those interested in serving in city government to the city as a whole. Aside from the mayor, you've got two at-large council seats, and after that, the only real city-wide position with any visibility is NOPD Superintendent.
As attractive as this concept is, it's not going to be cheap. Consider Landrieu's model:
Under Bloomberg's set-up, a chief deputy mayor in charge of administration and policy oversees six others whose primary areas of concern are economic development; health and human services; legal affairs; intergovernmental relations; police, fire, emergency medical services and budget; and education.
Of course, NYC is a city literally twenty times the size of New Orleans, so seven deputies might be a bit much. I would propose one for economic development and education. Those two go hand-in-hand. Possibly another for police/fire/EMS, but, as I mentioned on the podcast two weeks ago, fixing NOPD is the single most important thing Landrieu must do. Perhaps that should stay in his portfolio.