Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ass Backwards: The Media Edition

Sept. 11, 2006 Times Picayune editorial:
Seeking sponsors for Carnival might have seemed a necessary evil last year, when the city and its tax base were reeling from Hurricane Katrina.

But that doesn't mean that the Nagin administration should seek sponsors for next year. Doing so risks commercializing a celebration that defines who we are, and that would not be an acceptable tradeoff.

Sept. 2, 2006 Times Picayune article:
In a first, Mardi Gras 2007 may play out on live television before a national audience, along the lines of the annual Parade of Roses, according to a firm hired by the city of New Orleans to seek sponsors for the city's signature event.

Sounds like the contract's already been signed. Sounds like the mayor committed the city to a questionable deal before anybody heard anything about it. I suppose that MediaBuys, like CH2MHill before it, might be prevailed upon to allow the city out of the deal, but Nagin shouldn't be putting the city in that position. More importantly, those weren't isolated incidents and they do precede Katrina. Emergency powers have only made it easier for the mayor to enter the city into questionable deals. If Katrina gave the mayor more media scrutiny to contend with, I guess it's only fair that he have emergency powers to even things out.

I've decided to tone down my Times Picayune criticisms*, so I'll make this brief. This isn't the first time that we've first heard about a questionable deal after the contract was signed. This deal doesn't sound as wasteful or costly as the deals involving garbage cans, parking meters, garbage collection, car towing or some others, but it's still potentially embarrassing. So the question is, why isn't the Times Picayune reporting on these deals before they're signed? If the city is withholding information on these contracts until after they're signed, isn't that a story? If the mayor's abusing his emergency powers to rush through contracts, it's at least as worthy of an editorial as snakes on a beach. It might have been forgotten yesterday, but we were promised more transparency at the start of the 100 days. Nagin's certainly not skipping the public announcements to speed up the recovery.

*Jarvis DeBerry will be fair game until he either stops serving as the mayor's chief apologist or explains his Br'er Nagin column. An honest columnist would correct the inaccuracies in one defense of a politician before defending him again.

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