Orleans Parish, La., Criminal Sheriff Charles Foti Jr. will be remembered for many things from his 30 years on the job, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune: the sprawling growth of Orleans Parish Prison, budget battles with the City Council, the beauty of the prison art program, the eyesore of the now-dismantled tent city, and work-release inmates in orange jumpsuits sweeping the floors of public buildings.
Foti’s holiday programs for the needy may provide his most lasting legacy among the just-regular-folks who formed his most loyal constituency. Foti reprised the role of civic Santa Claus for the last time as sheriff yesterday before he takes office as Louisiana attorney general on Jan. 12. By 10 a.m., Foti and his deputies had assembled a caravan of more than a dozen sheriff’s office vans and pickups, each filled with sofas, tables, refrigerators, ovens, and other gifts. Some merchandise was donated by local stores and the rest was purchased from the profits of an annual Haunted House.
With the holiday programs firmly entrenched as New Orleans institutions, Foti vowed to find a way for them to continue. “Whether we can do it through the attorney general’s office or through the new sheriff, we’re going to keep this going,” he said.