Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wake Up, Watchdog

Warning: The following may seem like bragging to some readers.

Times Picayune editorial, June 24, 2007 (correction: Jan. 24, 2007):
But the real loss here isn't $860,000 -- it's the damage to the city's image. New Orleans needs continued federal help to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Any effort to game the system hurts our credibility and only confirms people's worst opinions about New Orleans and Louisiana.

Homeland Security decided to conduct this audit after U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling questioned the landfill deal as wasteful. He's the Texas Republican who blasted state and local officials after a visit here, saying that they want a big federal handout without taking any responsibility or showing accountability.

City officials should not give ammunition to the Rep. Hensarlings of the world, but unfortunately, that's exactly what this deal has become. It was even featured on the NBC Nightly News, on a segment called "The Fleecing of America."

Moldy City, May 28, 2006:
Before getting into the particulars of why I think that Nagin is quite possibly as corrupt as any of his predecessors, let me explain why I believe that it's important to watch the mayor like a hawk. Billions of dollars in federal money will be flowing through the city, you can bet that federal officials will be watching that money very carefully--if only to be able to blame any waste and corruption on the local guys... If you think that taking a Chinese monkey attitude toward any questionable contract decisions that Nagin makes will keep the Tom Tancredo types from noticing, you make Pollyanna look like Diogenes.
I certainly think that it's fair to say that, since the entire nation is watching, the mayor needs to, at the very least, pay more attention to the appearance of impropriety.

I picked the wrong congressman. Other than that, it was entirely predictable.

In two earlier posts, when I referred to the T/P as a cowardly watchdog, I suggested that the editors of the Picayune consider something from one of their own editorials:
But New Orleanians shouldn't have to count on the feds and the state to make city government run cleanly and efficiently.

I still don't think they're ready to assume the watchdog role. Back in November, there were two disputes between federal and local officials; James Gill didn't write about the one involving potential fraud.

Nice job!

I learned in Tejas that "It ain't braggin' when it's true".
Good work. (But you said June 24 when you meant Jan. 24.)
Thanks for the compliments and th catch. I was trying to finish three posts last night, only finished two.

I'm still worried that residents (and the resident media) pull their punches with the mayor for fear of hurting the city. It should be obvious by now that we protect the city that way.

I understand that ordinary residents only have time to write so many letters and bloggers can only blog about so many topics. When I decided that the mayor's refusal to use the city's limited resources wisely (it really hit hit me in Dec. 2005 when the council was largely irrelevant) was as criminal as the federal government's refusal to provide resources, I intended to pay equal attention to both. Obviously I didn't. But I still think that too many people are afraid to accuse the mayor of wasting money or worse.
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