Fielkow resigns from New Orleans City Council

Arnie Fielkow, who in 12 years in New Orleans became a fixture in the Jewish and general communities, submitted his resignation from the New Orleans City Council today to take a position as the chief executive officer of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

In a statement, Fielkow explained that “I have dearly missed the sports field, an industry in which I have spent over 20 years.”

The NBRPA, the official association of the NBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters, is comprised of all former players from these organizations. This association was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing, Dave DeBusschere, Dave Cowens and Archie Clark, and works in direct partnership with both the NBA and National Basketball Players Association.

Fielkow arrived in New Orleans to become executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints, and in his six years there “we enjoyed some incredible moments both on and off the field.” After Hurricane Katrina, he was fired when he refused to resign and sign a confidentiality agreement after vehemently disagreeing with the idea of the Saints moving to San Antonio.

After that, “New Orleanians picked me up, put me on their shoulders and provided me with a most incredible professional opportunity to help build back our beloved city by electing me councilman at-large. Not a small feat for a first time politician, and a Yankee at that!”

Though originally from Appleton, Wisc., his mother grew up in Montgomery, Ala.

Fielkow has held positions at Touro Synagogue, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Jewish Community Center, Hillel, and USA Sports for Israel/Maccabi USA, which organizes the Maccabi Games.

Fielkow was a participant in the 1997 World Maccabi Games, as part of the U.S. basketball team that won the silver medal. He spearheaded fundraising for the U.S. Maccabi games to be held in New Orleans in 2006, but the recovery from Hurricane Katrina caused the games to be moved to another city.

He was also an executive committee member of the Super Bowl XXXVI Host Committee.

In both 2007 and 2008 citizens named Fielkow “Best New Orleans City Councilmember” according to Gambit Weekly. Fielkow also was identified as one of New Orleans Magazine’s 2006 “People to Watch” and “Favorite Local Politician” in 2008. In 2009, Councilman Fielkow was branded “New Orleanian of the Year” and “Second Most-Admired (Male) New Orleanian” by the readers of New Orleans Magazine.

Fielkow’s recognitions for civic and community contributions include the Anti-Defamation League’s A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award in 2007, the prestigious 2004 TOP Award (“Ten Outstanding Persons”) and the 2003 Sanchez to Sanchez to Smith Award issued by Family Service of Greater New Orleans and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

His resignation is effective Oct. 1, and an interim council member will likely be named prior to a special election.

Fielkow said “while I sincerely wish the timing for this new position had been different, regrettably I had no control over when it presented itself. I have given as much as I humanly could to the city of New Orleans over the past 12 years, and I very much hope that New Orleanians will understand and wish me well as I pursue a professional dream.”