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More shake-ups at troubled New Orleans utility

August 20, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The interim head of the agency that oversees drainage, sewer and drinking water systems in New Orleans is being replaced and three deputy directors have resigned, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Monday.

The new interim director, introduced at a Monday news conference, is retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. David Callahan. He will oversee the transition to a permanent executive director, Ghassan Khorban, who takes over next month after heading the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.

Callahan becomes the fourth interim director since flash flooding last August revealed numerous problems with the pumping system that drains city streets.

More recently, problems with a new billing system led to many residents disputing bills, which affected the agency’s revenue.

Callahan replaces Jade Brown-Russell, an attorney named interim director after Cantrell succeeded Mitch Landrieu earlier this year.

The resignation of three deputy directors comes after Nola.comThe Times-Picayune reported they had received large pay increases, even as the agency was under financial strain. Brown-Russell, in a statement last week, said the raises were in line with a new pay plan resulting from a consultant’s study.

Cantrell said she asked Brown-Russell to seek their resignations.

It was unclear what role Brown-Russell will have at the Sewerage and Water Board after being replaced by Callahan.

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