HANO Denies City Attorney’s Allegation Regarding Mysterious Release of Vappie Zip Drive

Carol Johnson, President of the Housing Authority of New Orleans, released a statement today, March 17, which directly contradicts a press release issued by City Attorney Donesia D. Turner earlier this week. Turner blamed human error for the release of a zip drive containing interviews with NOPD officer Jeffrey Vappie and others which are part of an ongoing investigation of Vappie by the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau (PIB). Turner claimed the zip drive was mistakenly given to a HANO board member who had come to the city’s attorney office to pick up a different file. 

HANO responded today, March 17, that “at no time was any sitting board member ever in possession of the recordings from the PIB investigation.” A complete set of the recordings is available on The Big Easy Magazine’s website. 

HANO has come under considerable scrutiny recently regarding Vappie who Mayor Cantrell recommended to serve as a commissioner despite the fact that city employees are prohibited from such service. Vappie was also instructed by Cantrell to charge the hours he spent at HANO meetings on the NOPD timesheet, according to testimony Vappie gave to the PIB. Vappie is still listed on HANO’s website as a board member.

Some believe that HANO’s attorney should have been aware that Vappie was ineligible to serve and should have notified HANO leadership. Because HANO is a state agency, Vappie’s appointment did not come through the City Council’s Government Affairs Committee which vets all appointments to city-controlled boards and commissions. 

HANO was also recently criticized for two attempts to remove HANO board member Sharon Jasper, who they consider to be an obstructionist. The City Council overturned Jasper’s removal both times. Jasper has always been a vocal advocate for tenants and encourages them to bring their grievances directly to HANO board meetings. Despite being reinstated, Jasper is currently not listed as a commissioner on HANO’s website.

Some naysayers are circulating rumors that it was Jasper who received the zip drive from the city’s law department. A spokesperson for Jasper vehemently denies those claims. “Ms. Jasper has no knowledge of any PIB tape or such tape being released. She was made aware of the PIB tapes through media reports. She continues to stand on her advocacy work and the work she encourages other people to participate in,” said W.C. Johnson.

“I have been targeted for being a champion of the people and for this I have been persecuted. I have never in my life seen so much corruption in the housing authority as we are seeing today. The administration wants to blame someone who is innocent of the corruption being plagues upon the residents of public housing. This is what happens to people who will not bow down or be silent against injustice, human and civil rights violations,” Jasper explained. 

The next meeting of HANO’s Board of Commissioners will be held March 28, 2023 at 4 p.m. at 4100 Touro Street. HANO recently issued a request for proposals for a marketing firm to rebrand the agency.

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