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Jul 27, 2012 8:44 AM by AP

New Orleans City Council fills Johnson's seat

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans City Council has appointed attorney Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet as the interim replacement for the District E seat vacated last week when Jon Johnson abruptly resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

The council's four white members voted Thursday for Charbonnet, a former assistant city attorney now in private practice and the two black members voted against the appointment, The Times Picayune reported (http://bit.ly/N5etBa).

Councilwoman Diana Bajoie said she would not have voted for Charbonnet or the other candidate, attorney Mike Darnell, who served as an interim councilman in 2007 when Oliver Thomas pleaded guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes and resigned his at-large seat. Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge Morrell, in her opposition, chided her colleagues for unspecified "shenanigans" and "vindictiveness" surrounding the appointment.

Two other possible appointees, artist Rashida Ferdinand and businessman Ronald Carrere, withdrew their names from the short list.

Charbonnet said after the meeting that his first order of business is figuring out what the rift over his interim appointment was all about.

"I want people to know that I'm independent," he said. "I do not have a side."

The new member could serve for up to five months until a special election is held Nov. 6. The elected candidate would then serve the rest of Johnson's term, which expires in May 2014.

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