Who's joining Clarke's crew?

Posted: January 26, 2012

COUNCIL President Darrell Clarke is slowly filling key positions with folks familiar to City Hall, including members of the administration of former Mayor John Street.

"I'm not talking about personnel," Clarke said yesterday, adding that he's trying to build a staff that is "committed, hardworking and knowledgeable."

But some names can be reported. Replacing recently retired budget guru Charles McPherson as chief financial officer is Folasade Olanipekun-Lewis, currently deputy commerce director for finance and administration. She is Street's former treasurer and a former chief financial officer for the Philadelphia School District.

Olanipekun-Lewis said she's slated to begin in February. She was criticized in 2007 for jumping ship and walking away with seven months' worth of pay and vacation time as part of a severance agreement in the midst of a school-district deficit that grew from $73 million to $180 million.

Mary Ellen Milovsky, who will handle Council's administrative services, has worked 12 years in both the current administration and the Street administration.

Sources said that Street's former chief of staff, Joyce Wilkerson, has been mentioned as Clarke's possible chief of staff, but no decision has been made on that position.

Wilkerson has been executive director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority since 2010. Before that, she was a longtime aide to Street and worked in Council, in the Redevelopment Authority and at Community Legal Services. She did not return requests for comment.

Meanwhile, sources said that Hal Fichandler, Council's senior legislative adviser, and John Christmas, chief legislative counsel for Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, will join Clarke's technical staff.

- Jan Ransom

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