Jefferson Parish’s inspector general board began interviewing three finalists for the job Wednesday, questioning the candidates in both public and private sessions. First up was Nicholas Schuler Jr., deputy inspector general for Chicago public schools.

Members of the Jefferson Parish Ethics and Compliance Commission, gather for an interview for a new inspector general for the parish. The group was interviewing Nicholas Schuler Jr., center, on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at the Airport Hilton Hotel. (Photo by Chris Granger, | The Times-Picayune)
Schuler, after an hour of generic questions in public, pulled out a printed budget for the Jefferson job, saying the office needs 10 people and less than $1.2 million annually. “You can do a lot with that,” Schuler told the five-member Ethics and Compliance Commission, which will hire Jefferson’s first inspector general.

His staffing would include the IG, a lawyer functioning as chief deputy, an investigations manager with two investigators, two auditors, two inspectors and an office assistant. Pay and benefits would cost $890,500 to $991,900, administration $133,575 to $148,785.

That’s within the $1 million to $1.5 million that Jefferson expects to give the inspector general, from a dedicated tax. But it doesn’t include start-up spending on computers, phones and the like.

Schuler said the Chicago schools inspector general’s office has 17 employees and a $2 million budget, and fielded 1,600 complaints in 2012, but could use more money to grow. “As a result, we are primarily an investigations shop,” with less focus on auditing, he said.

When asked about the public’s role in the success of an inspector general, he said: “If they know you’re there and you do good work, they’ll give you good complaints. … And they’ll hold the elected officials’ feet to the fire.

“They’ll make democracy better at the end of the day.”

The commission plans Wednesday afternoon to interview two more candidates:

David Holmgren of Lorton, Va., the U.S. Treasury Department’s deputy inspector general for inspections and evaluations at the Internal Revenue Service.
David McClintock of Arnold, Md., Baltimore’s inspector general.

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