Monday, July 23, 2007

Midura's Actual Statements

Since the local media is reporting about what Midura said, but not not reporting what she actually said:
Mr. Jordan, New Orleans is facing a public safety crisis, and much of that crisis is centered in your District Attorney Office. There is no joy in asking a good man to resign his office. I remember the Eddie Jordan that took on a corrupt and powerful Louisiana Governor and put him behind bars in the name of ethical government and I will always appreciate you for your leadership during that time. Unfortunately, moral fiber and past accomplishments are not enough to get the job done as District Attorney. Continuous mismanagement has consequences, especially when the public consequences of mismanagement put murderers back onto our streets. This is why I now believe it is time for you to step down. Our legitimacy as elected officials is based upon the consent of the governed. Mr. Jordan, you no longer have the public confidence required to lead the office because of the serious management mistakes in some of the most important criminal cases facing our city. New Orleans cannot afford a Michael Brown FEMA-style District Attorney’s office.

Mike Nifong stepped down from office after the public demanded it for his mismanagement of the Duke rape case. Several privileged young white men endured a year of turmoil because of Nifong's mismanagement. But Mr. Jordan, your mismanagement has come at the expense of the families of five murdered young impoverished African-American teenagers. They come at the expense of the family of Dinerral Shavers. They come at the expense of an already wounded citizenry fighting for its future. The stakes for us in New Orleans exceed the stakes Nifong’s citizens faced in Durham, North Carolina. Your mistakes have put our safety in jeopardy. As it has been pointed out by other local leaders, the vast majority of our city’s murder victims have been young black males from poor neighborhoods. If the vast majority of our murder victims were young white males from wealthier neighborhoods, perhaps this problem would have been addressed earlier and we would have fewer dead young people in our city being mourned by so many friends and family.

I do not wish to scapegoat you Mr. Jordan for the failures of the criminal justice system, as you are only one player in a massive broken bureaucracy. But your mistakes have stood out even in that broken system. I will continue to work with whoever is in charge of the office, whether it is you or anyone else as I know I cannot simply do nothing just because I disagree with the leadership of the District Attorney. But I firmly believe it is time to change course in the office of District Attorney, which is why I am continuing to ask you to step down from office. For the sake of our citizens and for the sake of public safety, Mr. Jordan, please step down.

In an abstract sense, a comparison to another D.A, one had been forced to resign in a racially charged atmosphere, would make perfect sense. In the real world, Midura should have foreseen the reactions, both honest and dishonest, that it would produce.

Frankly, the whole matter has me feeling a little stupid. I understand that sometimes offensive comments are coded or so subtle that it takes a few days for the outrage to set in. That must have been the case with Midura's comments, as I believe she made them on Wednesday. Jordan's immediate objection was to being "scapegoated;" to the best of my knowledge, he didn't voice any objections to the Nifong comparison until a weekend interview. Jarvis DeBerry must have also missed Midura's wickedly subtle racial allusions at first; he didn't write about them in his Friday column. Yet DeBerry writes that the racial aspersions were so blatant that Malcolm Suber suddenly felt compelled to denounce the calls for Jordan's resignation as racially motivated.* So by mentioning Nifong on Wednesday, Midura immediately turned it into a racial matter. Yet her comments about Nifong were barely mentioned until the weekend. I must be dense, because I sure don't understand it. I would have thought that it was a case of rationalizing after the fact.

A challenge for anybody reading this, to paraphrase something that I said at Oyster's read the DeBerry column that can be found here (the second of two reprinted columns) and just try to say that DeBerry wasn't setting up a strawman.

*No, that's not what DeBerry actually wrote. Rereading so many old Jarvis DeBerry columns must have had a temporary effect on me.

"Jordan's immediate objection was to being 'scapegoated'."

No, that was the strategy before he even stepped into Council chambers.

That's why he called in the agitators to heckle Council Members. Those hecklers, it should be noted, would holler or cheer for one side or another, and then curl up and laugh at themselves.

They made a circus of a very serious matter, and succeeded in tamping down a tougher line of questioning -- e.g., forcing Jordan to specifically answer the question of why he didn't pick up the phone to talk to the NOPD, what disciplinary actions may have been taken, and how he's going to prevent this from happening again in the future.

The audio's online at Community Gumbo.

Everything is racist to Malcolm Suber (God bless him for trying). He'd probably say that white milk is a racist conspiracy.
That's why I only drink chocolate milk. Or when I really want to reach out to the Mr. Clio types, that Nesquik strawberry milk stuff. We are the world.

Seriously, you're correct. I've heard of playing the race card, but here, the whole deck is made of race cards.

Once again, Jimmy, Oliver, the Cynthias, and Mr. Fielgood were deafening in their silence.

But I really don't see this as hurting Midura politically. Like Jay Batt is going to run again and say he's the candidate that's best for the (in Jarvis' words) "black folks". Yeah, right.
Oh yeah ... reading Ashley, there was one other thing I remembered about how the other Council Members left Shelley out to dry -- the meeting began with a roll call, and Carter said Oliver Thomas was "en route." Two and a half hours later -- no Oliver. He never showed up. I wonder if he was watching from his office calculating whether or not to make an appearance. It wasn't an easy role like some of the other ones he's taken. So where the hell was he -- for such a critically important matter. Are we to conclude that Oliver Thomas is a racist because he didn't care to make an appearance on a matter which could affect whether or not five slain teenagers get justice?
Your right Schroeder, but my point was that the reaction to Midura's comments built up over the course of a few days. The initial reaction was to the removal effort more than the comments, so it doesn't seem like Midura's comments were what made it a racial matter.

About Suber, you really should go back and watch that video that Dambala posted after the January crime march. Suber can be seen near the end when somebody is talking about the lack of concern when black people get killed. I have no reason to doubt that that speaker was sincere, but Suber looked like a kid shooting spitballs. His interest was in disrupting the white march, not in making sure that black victims weren't forgotten.

I'm not as high on Thomas as some people are, but I'm not as down on him as (say) Adrastos. But I don't expect him to show any leadership until people make it obvious that they'll be looking for somebody who's showing leadership now, when it's time to vote for mayor three years (more like 2 1/2 years) from now. Fielgood doesn't have the stature on spinal cord to lead the council in a more assertive role. Midura certainly doesn't have the stature or political skills to lead right now.
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