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Cantrell To Replace SWB Director Again, Other Officials Resign

Travis Lux
Jade Brown-Russell, center, adresses the media in June 2018. Brown-Russell will be replaced as Interim Executive Director by former Coast Guard Rear Admiral David Callahan.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans is getting yet another interim director, and three top officials have resigned from the utility.

The moves come just a couple of weeks before a new permanent director is scheduled to take the helm.

David Callahan -- a retired rear admiral with the Coast Guard -- will be the fourth temporary executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board in about a year. Callahan will replace Jade Brown-Russell.

The timing of the move is curious, given that new permanent executive director Ghassan Korban is scheduled to start the job on September 3rd -- just two weeks from now.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell also announced that three top officials have resigned. All three had recently received major pay raises, according to a report from Times-Picayune, despite the fact that the utility has claimed it was running low on money. Cantrell says she called for the resignations, but was vague about why.

“We have no room for distractions,” Cantrell said. “We have only room for progress and so we're wanting to make sure again that the table is set for our next executive director to hit the ground and hit the ground running.”

The Sewerage and Water Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to make Callahan’s role official.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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