"A city charter, the new administration can argue, is just like a city: a living thing."

That's an interesting - and, I think, wholly inappropriate thing for a news reporter to tack onto the end of a Times-Pic story about how New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's new setup of 6 deputy mayors doesn't facially conform to the structure laid out in the New Orleans City Charter.

On May 4, the day the new Mayor announced his arrangement, I noted my concern that the new administrative structure wasn't specifically mandated or even seemingly allowed for by the City Charter.  I did so with this fb comment on the blog-like wall of active local citizen Michelle K:

Is that permitted by the City Charter? I'm not nearly familiar enough with the document, but it seems like transforming the system to allow people with the title "Deputy Mayor" is significant enough to warrant a look.

I'm glad to see that the Times-Picayune noted the shift - which could be considered not merely a change in titles and labels, but potentially a functional change in the form of city government.  The article linked above gives some context - apparently few mayors have ever adhered to the Charter form very well.

But I don't think that's an adequate excuse for Mitch Landrieu.  And I don't think the newspaper should be complicit in suggesting that the law somehow doesn't matter.  If the Mayor wants to show us he's different and better than Ray Nagin and the incompetence and corruption of the past, then his first steps should be clearly in line with the City Charter.  If he doesn't like the provisions, then he should move to have them changed but conform nonetheless in the meantime until the governing document is revised.

I understand the need for some flexibility in the executive/administrative branch of city government - and the need for change in the wake of the Nagin administration.  I think Mayor Landrieu's move is one intended to produce efficiencies and better governance.  But regardless of intentions, I think the new six-deputy mayor scheme is significant enough that it seems to implicate a need to revise the governing document.  Citizens should have confidence that their leaders are complying with the laws that restrain the government's ability to exercise power over them.  Even in a city where many may want the local government to start exercising some power effectively for once, we shouldn't go forward with merely a wink and a nod to the law.