Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bayou St. John is not Bayou Sauvage

The difference goes beyond location:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service usually lets nature takes its course, but Bayou Sauvage requires a hands-on approach.

That's because levees that protect New Orleans circle more than two-thirds of Bayou Sauvage, creating an impoundment, or closed-in, marsh.

A series of pumps and flap gates allows rangers to regulate water levels in the refuge. Water levels are raised and lowered to maintain the health of the habitat in Bayou Sauvage. Link

It seems that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service pays for the maintenance.

I bring this up because I attended the meeting that Robert Counce describes in this letter to the editor. Because I've developed the habit of wondering, "how could Tommy Tucker or Bob Mitchell or Norman Robinson possibly get this wrong," whenever I hear any local issue discussed, I focused on something that I don't believe anybody else paid much attention to.

Basically, what's at issue is whether to build an operable floodgate or a levee. I didn't have a notebook or tape recorder, but the gist of the ACoE representative's presentation was that once a flood control structure is built, the local flood control authority is responsible, financially responsible, for maintaining water flow and water quality. When he said something about levees at Bayou Sauvage, I began to imagine the radio talk show discussion: "Bayou Sauvage has a levee, and it has bald eagles." "We see how well Bayou Sauvage does with levees, how much harm could a levee do at Bayou St. John? With flood protection at stake, surely what works at bayou Sauvage can't hurt the water quality in bayou St. John." Obviously, the big difference is that the federal government pays to maintain the water quality at Bayou sauvage, the city and atate won't have the money for that at Bayou St. John.

One other point worth noting, Mark Shexnayder of the LSU AgCenter pointed out that the lake feeds into the bayou, which feeds into the city park lagoons.

I'd like to go into more detail, but I want to get this posted in time for tomorrow night's meeting about flood protection projects:
Good morning,
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting two public meetings concerning the hurricane protection system in the New Orleans area in the near future. The primary purpose of these meetings is to get input from local stakeholders on the proposed hurricane protection projects so that we can make the best decisions possible for the community.

The next meeting is scheduled for November 29, 07 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. 6249 Canal Boulevard, New Orleans LA 70124. An open house will kick off the night from 6 to 7 PM followed by a presentation on the hurricane protection alternatives being investigated for the three outfall canals. Following the presentation will be an open discussion time to discuss any concerns or questions anyone may have.

If you would like to learn more about the hurricane protection projects in the St. Charles and Jefferson East Bank area please plan on attending a meeting at the Ramada Inn on December 6, 07. The hotel is located at 110 James Drive East St. Rose, LA 70087. Corps project staff will be on hand from 6 to 7 PM (open house) to discuss the projects in an informal setting. At 7 PM there will be a presentation on the projects in the area followed by an open discussion session where we will discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Gib Owen
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chief, Ecological Planning and Restoration Section
HPS Environmental Coordinator
New Orleans Louisiana

Tomorrow's meeting isn't about Bayou St. John, but about the canals that empty into the lake. Still, it seemed like a good reason to get around to this post.

While I'm writing about letters to local papers, Blake Pontchartrain seems to have flubbed the answer to a question in this week's Gambit.

A Report on LSU message board activity

An email from somebody who follows that kind of stuff online:
Rumors abound that Miles to Michigan is a done deal. The rumor goes that he'll announce on Sunday or Monday and, get ready for this, Steve Spurrier will come and coach LSU. The other two names being mentioned, though I can't see it, are Saban and Del Rio. I do believe Saban would like to come back but he would lose any remaining credibility he had left if he bolted 'Bama after one year. Del Rio does have a daughter at LSU, coached for the Saints and his wife is from La., but why would he leave an NFL team that's in the playoff hunt every year?................Anyway, people who usually post credible stuff on the message boards are saying Spurrier is a done deal. Others are saying Saban badly wants back. Should be an interesting weekend.

That's internet message board stuff, so make of it what you want.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An old article that doesn't quite belong on The Nagin Files

Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

June 17, 2005 Friday

Quartet may be just tip of the iceberg;
Letten expects to charge additional people soon

BYLINE: By Martha Carr, Staff writer


LENGTH: 1383 words

Strap in, this ride is just getting started.

After 3 ½ years of speculation about where the City Hall probe might lead, acting U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Thursday that the indictments of Stan Barré and three others in the Johnson Controls investigation represent only one facet of a multilayered probe into contracts issued under former Mayor Marc Morial, and that his office is barreling ahead with several others.

"This investigation is by no means over," Letten said. "While I cannot tell you where it may lead or speculate about that, I can tell you that we do anticipate further charges against other individuals -- hopefully in the near future.

"We're in this for the long haul."

The indictments of Barré and former New Orleans property management director Kerry DeCay come just days after federal prosecutors told a jury in Cleveland that another Morial department head, former housing director Vincent Sylvain, accepted a $2,500 bribe from New Orleans business executive Gilbert Jackson in 2002.

Sylvain, who has proclaimed his innocence, has not been charged with a crime, but former prosecutors speculate he could be indicted later or is already cooperating with the federal government in exchange for leniency. Others suggested the government has not indicted Sylvain because it doesn't have the evidence.

While Justice Department rules prohibit Letten from giving details about ongoing investigations, he made it clear Thursday that the Johnson Controls part of the City Hall probe is far from over, especially as it relates to the company's project manager, Terry Songy.

"He has not been charged at this time, and I stress . . . at this time. I can't go any further than that right now," Letten said.

Other investigations

There's also plenty of evidence that the federal government is moving on other fronts as well. Among the investigations that have heated up in recent months:

-- A probe into Metro New Orleans Transit Inc., a company owned by Morial's uncle, investment banker Glenn Haydel. Metro held a lucrative management and consulting contract with the Regional Transit Authority during Morial's eight years at City Hall. The contract was canceled in late 2002 by the Nagin administration amid suspicions that the company had bilked the RTA out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with the help of then-RTA Chairman Robert Tucker, another Morial ally.

During the past two years, federal investigators have interviewed several RTA officials and requested mountains of records relating to Metro's work. Just this week, RTA executives were summoned to the U.S. attorney's office for follow-up discussions, sources close to the probe said.

-- A probe into two high-dollar consulting contracts awarded to Urban Strategies owner Pat Bryant by then-Sanitation director Lynn Wiltz. Investigators recently issued new subpoenas, recalled grand jury witnesses and asked questions at the South Shore Marina about docking fees that Bryant paid for Wiltz's boat slip.

While it appears the Wiltz-Bryant probe does not have direct ties to Morial -- neither were part of his inner circle -- Letten's office has shown interest in several other companies that did business with the sanitation department during Morial's tenure. Last year, federal investigators subpoenaed business records from Metro Disposal owner Jimmie Woods, who holds part of the residential trash pickup contract, and Reginald Walker's company Moss Creek Development, which held a contract to recycle office trash. Walker's indictment Thursday is not related to the recycling contract.

Other Morial insiders who have been touched by the far-ranging probe include Morial's brother, Jacques Morial; lawyer Roy Rodney; longtime political consultant Bill Schultz; Sam Kogos, a fixture on many of the city's and School Board's lucrative insurance committees; and Ray Valdes, a financier who handled several large-scale lease deals for the Morial administration.

Valdes, who concocted the financing deal the city used to pay $33.7 million in upfront costs to Johnson Controls, was not named in Thursday's indictment. Letten would not say whether he is a target of the investigation.

Birth of a probe

The City Hall contracts probe got legs in mid-2002, around the time Cox Cable executive Ray Nagin was elected mayor and began criticizing bloated contracts issued by his predecessor.

At the time, the newly minted mayor invited the FBI and the New Orleans Police Department to sift through city records left behind by Morial, many of which the feds carted off, including records related to Johnson Controls and other controversial sanitation, housing and economic development contracts.

Shortly thereafter, the feds indicted three low-level city officials, the most notable being Wallace Schief, former chief engineer of the property management department who accepted bribes from a businessman in return for steering work to his company. All have been sentenced, and their crimes appear unrelated to current investigations.

Then, in late 2002, agents subpoenaed records from Johnson Controls.

About a year later, in the fall of 2003, the feds issued a subpoena to the former law partners of Rodney, who was the closest thing to an in-house lawyer for members of Morial's inner circle. The partners of the firm, now known as Bordenave, Boykin and Ehret, complied, handing over boxes of Rodney's business, political and legal records.

Not long after that, four additional members of Morial's inner circle -- Barré, Haydel, Tucker and Woods -- were ordered to haul their company records to the grand jury. Their dramatic procession into the Hale Boggs federal building, with some of the city's top defense attorneys at their sides, was the first visible sign of the widening scope of the probe.

The biggest bombshell of all exploded in February 2004, when federal agents took a battering ram to the front door of Jacques Morial's French Quarter home.

The early morning raid was decried as politically motivated by Morial's attorney, Pat Fanning. A group of powerful black ministers promptly expanded on Fanning's critique to condemn the U.S. attorney's office, then-U.S. Senate candidate David Vitter, Nagin, the Bureau of Governmental Research and the Metropolitan Crime Commission. Letten, a white Republican, was accused of racial bias, which he dismissed as an attempt by his targets to distract the public from the fact that the politically well-connected were feeding at the public trough.

At the time, with no cases ready to roll, Letten had to ask residents to trust that his office wasn't merely on a fishing expedition. Now, 16 months later, Letten is finally showing his hand.

Edwards-caliber effort

The indictments, coupled with Letten's comments Thursday, suggest the City Hall investigation comprises a series of related probes rather than one overarching conspiracy.

Some of the cases "relate to one another, some overlap, some don't," Letten said Thursday. All, however, are related to what FBI chief Jim Bernazzani described as a "network" of opportunists who used City Hall contracts for personal gain.

Leading the prosecution are two of Letten's highest-ranking prosecutors, his first assistant Jan Maselli Mann, who heads the criminal division, and Robert Boitmann, a senior lawyer in the office who has handled several public corruption and fraud cases. Combined, they have 53 years of federal trial experience. They are joined by prosecutors Brian Klebba and Jon Maestri.

Bernazzani wouldn't discuss how many of his agents are working on the City Hall investigations, but several lawyers involved in the probe said they haven't seen this type of combined federal effort since the successful prosecution of former Gov. Edwin Edwards. They also noted that there has never been a comparable crackdown on a mayoral administration in the city's modern history.

Letten said he is prepared to commit whatever it takes to successfully complete the probe.

"We will be relentless in going after corruption in the city for the purpose of not only punishing those who take advantage of the city and its citizens, but also to establish a level playing field for deserving, honest business people," he said.

. . . . . . .

Staff writer Frank Donze contributed to this story.

Don't renegotiate the contracts

Hold Richards and Metro Disposal to their original contracts. From the Times Picayune:
Supporters of Richard's Disposal and Metro Disposal, both New Orleans companies owned and run by African-Americans, told council members during a hearing in advance of Friday's vote on the city's 2008 budget that any attempt by the council to change terms of the agreements, which Mayor Ray Nagin signed last year, would amount to racism and could incite activists to abandon the city in the throes of the winter tourism season.

"What is out of compliance if these men are doing their job?" Spiver Gordon, national treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, asked the council. "We don't need to come back here and dance around your cash registers. We're talking about economic boycott."

No white ministers threatened to dance around cash registers, when Nagin implied that white businesses that donated to Landrieu. But Nagin opened that can of worms when he made that suggestion and then gave huge contracts to his backers.

There doesn't seem to be a link on WWL's website, but Cedric Richmond and Austin Badon were on the Monday morning news saying that it would be terrible to try to force Metro and Richards to renegotiate. So, if it would be an act of blatant oppression to renegotiate the contracts, the obvious alternative is to hold the companies to the terms of the contracts -- all of the terms of the contracts.

I didn't see the SCLC rallying to Paulette Irons' support when a cabal, that included Jimmie Woods, helped sink her mayoral candidacy -- creating the opening for Ray Nagin to make the runoff in the 2002 mayor's race. Nor did it rally to the support of Total Sentencing Alternatives Program when it lost a city contract to Community Base Corrections. I'd explain, but it's a quick read, note that both Woods and one of his partners were part of the group that helped sink Iron's candidacy. I wonder if Woods contributes to the SCLC. And I'm still curious about the city's demolition contracts.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Football

I'm not a big Les Miles fan, but fair is fair. If injuries are an excuse for Oregon's losses and USC's losses, they're certainly a reasonable excuse for LSU's losses. I'll try to add to this, but Monday are busy days for me, so any further commentary will have to wait. In the meantime, I'll start with an email that I sent to a writer at CBS Sportsline and a comment on officiating.

If not for the barrage of commentary about injuries to Pac-10 teams, I wouldn't object to an article about the LSU-Arkansas that failed to mentioned the impact of injuries on LSU's defense. As it is, I just had to email this writer:
I only watched five minutes of the USC-ASU game earlier this week, but that was enough time to hear about the injuries that USC has overcome this year. Yet, we never hear anything about LSU's injuries. Since Dorsey hasn't been effective since the Auburn game, you could sat that a cheap shot cost LSU a shot at the national championship. Then there was the Kentucky game:

"At least five LSU players were injured in the Tigers' 43-37, triple-overtime loss at Kentucky on Saturday.
Among the injured are cornerback Chevis Jackson, center Brett Helms, defensive end Kirston Pittman, running back Jacob Hester and safety Craig Steltz."
From the Times Picayune Oct. 18.

There were also injuries to Early Doucet and Charles Alexander. If the national media is going to make excuses for USC, it's only fair to make them for LSU.
(emphasis and links not in email)
I know that it's widely considered to be "bad form" to complain about officiating, but not only was LSU the most penalized team in the SEC this year, it's opponents were the least penalized. I'll need to check to make sure that the figures haven't changed, but halfway through the season, Alabama (number one in the category) averaged over twice as many penatly yards, against its opponents, as LSU did. LSU may have been the most penalized team in the league because it was the sloppiest, but it's amazing to me that LSU's opponents managed to play such penalty-free ball against a team with LSU's talent. I'll look up a link to illustrate the point when time allows, but there wasn't even a penalty called on the takedown of Glenn Dorsey in the Auburn game.

I thought that a partial explanation might have been that LSU's strength was its defensive line (or was, prior to the Auburn hit on Dorsey), and SEC refs have only called the most blatant holding penalties this year. However, that makes the 4th quarter holding call that arguably cost LSU the game all the more baffling. Of course, that would be a non-issue had LSU not had a touchdown on the same possession negated by an illegal formation penalty that cost them against LSU. Auburn fans say that the same penalty should have been called in the Auburn game. I find it appalling that Auburn fans can even think of complaining about a non-call in that game, but they do.

I'll make one more point and one prediction about the national commentators that have made excuses for Pacific Coast teams that they haven't made for at least one Gulf Coast team. The TV analysts haven't ignored Les Miles and LSU, but most of what they've said has been so inane that it would make a political pundit blush. But I guarantee that those same analysts that have criticized Miles and not made the same excuses for LSU that they make for other teams, will change their tune if Miles goes to Michigan. Suddenly, we'll hear about 11-2 records not being good enough to satisfy the LSU fans -- as if those LSU fans hadn't had their criticisms reinforeced by what they heard on TV. It wouldn't surprise me to hear Brent Musburger say something about Miles being a "class act" for not saying anything about that, just insisting that it was the lure of returning to his alma mater. The implication will be that any criticism he received from LSU fans was unfair or classless. Mark my words.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Crime Victim Reparations

You might recall that, in my last post, I mentioned a $2516.38 emergency room bill and wondered what kind of crime victim assistance program the city had. Oddly enough, WGNO news aired a story on the city's Crime Victims Fund, just last night. The timing, three days after I raised the subject, almost made me wonder whether anybody at WGNO, or anybody in the sheriff's office, read my blog. The glowing nature of the report and the results of a recent state audit, might give a cynic other reasons wonder about the timing. To be fair, I can't imagine any elected sheriff not taking advantage of the PR resources of that office. I couldn't link directly to the video clip, but it's easy to find on the WGNO link (Crime Victims Fund 11/21/07 Michael Hill ). More information on the crime victims program can be found here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Crime Maps Pt. 2


A recent YRHT post on the NOPD's claims about the city's safety made me wonder if a violent crime, of which I had some personal knowledge, showed up on the city's crime maps. It didn't.

So, I decided to check two other daylight crimes that I had read about, two that happened near Tulane University:
# October 26, 2007 SIMPLE ROBBERY AND ATTEMPTED ORAL SEXUAL BATTERY, 10-26-07 @ 8:45 A.M., Willow between Jefferson and Nashville. Subject demanded victim's bag and money, took cell phone, then attempted to force victim to perform oral sex on him. A passing vehicle caused a distraction and allowed victim to escape.
# October 11, 2007 OFF CAMPUS ARMED ROBBERY 10/10/2007 AT 1:20 P.M. A Tulane staff member was walking east on Plum St. when she observed 2 unidentified black males standing on the sidewalk just ahead of her. As she neared the suspects, one charged her brandishing a black gun and demanded her purse. The suspect ripped the purse from the victim's shoulder and ran toward Pine St. where he entered a green SUV and fled north on Pine St.

If you check the top of the Tulane link, you'll see that these incidents were reported to the NOPD, so they should, theoretically, appear on NOPD crime maps.

Checking the first (from the top, second chronologically), nothing on the October NOPD crime map for Willow St. & Nashville Ave., same result for Willow and Jefferson.

A search for Plum & Pine does yield:
J1212807 Plum St & Pine St Robbery (Armed Robbery, Gun) Oct 10 2007 1:30pm

One out of three violent crimes that I checked were publicized. If you check the NOPD crime maps, the city does seem relatively safe.

In a comment on my earlier post, Schroeder wrote:
It isn't important to notify citizens of crimes until a supervisor can sign off with 100 percent certainty that you really have a lump on your skull, and that confirmation can take weeks.

I don't want give the impression that Schroeder was defending the crime maps, he wasn't. However, the one crime that did appear was the first committed. Which leads to question, if the crime maps take a few weeks to prepare, why the rush to publicize them. After all, NOPD crime maps aren't ACoE reports. When residents look at the maps, they expect to see all reported crime for the area checked, for the time period reported.

As to the lump on my skull, if you saw me now, almost three weeks later, you wouldn't believe anything had happened to me. But I still have most of my hair, there are two sizable scars under my bangs. There's also a $2516.38 emergency room bill on my desk. Don't worry, I have insurance; I only received the bill because I didn't have my insurance card in my wallet. Of course, I will have to pay some of that, as well as the two $25 copays for follow-up visits to an ENT specialist and a neurosurgeon. I also missed three full days of work and two partial days for the follow-up visits. Of course, the police officer who responded wouldn't know any of that. All he saw was a lucid victim who would apparently be all right. A lucid victim who was covered with blood, who had been immobilized, as a precaution, by the EMT's and who was in obvious need of medical attention.

It occurs to me that, with a little tweaking, this could just as easily be a post about health care costs as crime. It does me make wonder what kind of victims' assistance program the city has, if it still has one at all.


Mominem reports a similar experience in the comments. WDSU trumpets a recent report that indicates that New Orleans may not be all that dangerous. But can you believe the crime statistics that the report is based on? To test a little further, I went back to the Tulane/Loyola site and scrolled down to next reported gun crime:
September 13, 2007 September 12, 2007 at 11:56 P.M. AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH A FIREARM in the 700 Block Of Broadway St. A black Chevy Malibu, unknown license plate, stopped on the street close to the victims. The vehicle was occupied by two black males. The passenger of the vehicle produced a black semi-automatic handgun and attempted to get the victims to approach the vehicle. The suspect pulled the trigger but the weapon did not discharge. The suspect said he was just kidding. The vehicle then fled southbound on Broadway St. The suspect was described as a black male between the ages of 18 and 25 with a shaved head, wearing a black pullover t-shirt.

That incident also seems to have disappeared. That incident doesn't seem to have been part of a bad joke involving some Loyola students, that you might recall from October. Solved crimes don't disappear.

Apparently, I can't set the link to an earlier date. Doubters will need have to adjust the dates themselves to test my assertion.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shelley's Revenge?

Since I haven't seen a detailed breakdown of the vote, I'm commenting with less information than even a TV analyst, but I can't help but wonder how much the constant feuding between Shelley and the two Cynthias hurt Willard-Lewis tonight. I expected Willard-Lewis to win the election, because I expected her to get more crossover vote. I guess that I overestimated the number of Clarkson-haters among the city's white voters, because I seem to have been mistaken. Obviously I was wrong about the outcome, I seem to have been wrong about the crossover voting. I wouldn't expect much crossover voting in Lakeview, but I'm curious about how much Willard-Lewis got in the Uptown, University/Carrollton and Mid-City parts of District A. I suspect it was significantly lower than Nagin's crossover vote, even lower than could be accounted for by the absence of strategic voting by "Couhig conservatives."

Another possible factor in the election is the possibility that Clarkson's attack ads were more effective than Willard-Lewis'. To believe that, you'd have to believe that the electorate has become to sophisticated to be fooled by selectively edited sound bites. I personally have no problem with attack ads based on an opponent's record, provided the ads are basically honest, but hate ads that rely on edited quotes or clumsy statements. I doubt that most voters make that distinction, but Lewis' ads were based on Clarkson answering a question poorly, while Clarkson's were based on the fact that CWL introduced the new sanitation code that favored two major campaign donors. It's anice thought, but I don't know if I'm buying it myself. The fact that Willard-Lewis ran the first attack ads makes me think that her own polling gave her cause for concern before the campaign turned nasty. At any rate, Daddy Willard was a total jerk for calling Clarkson's attack ads racist. His daughter runs attack ads, her opponent responds with attack ads of her own, and Daddy Willard takes it as a sign that some don't want to work for unity, but want to return to "separatism."

If it was the garbage contracts that cost Willard-Lewis the election*, she has only herself to blame. Even if you think that the Times Picayune's coverage of the issue was questionable, I don't, Willard-Lewis had over two weeks to respond to the first report; she never did. Of course, if she won't vote to either renegotiate the caost of the contacts or hold the contractors to them, she wouldn't have a response. I hope the other council members are at least wondering if that's what cost Willard-Lewis, especially the ambitious members of the council.

Added thought
Early in the evening, before the results started to come in, Charles Rice said that the absentee vote was nearly evenly split between the two at-large candidates, with Clarkson only leading 50-49. This made him think that the election might be closer than anybody expected. He actually said it twice and neither Norman Robinson or the other two guest analysts on WDSU asked what he meant by "closer than anybody expected." It did make me wonder if Rice saw poll results that we didn't.

*They were the focus of Clarkson's attacks.

Last Minute Appeal to Vote for Clarkson

Because time is running out, I won't take the time to organize the following points into any type of order.

Of the two candidates, Clarkson comes much closer to be a preservationist. We already have a pro-development mayor, with at least three ambitious plans to remake the city on the drawing board, and a recovery czar who believes in cranes and bulldozers but who doesn't believe in being influenced by historical and cultural factors. For the sake of balance, we need some preservationist voices on the city council -- not that Clarkson's a rabid preservationist.

However, there are two specific projects that concern me. Any large scale redevelopment of the riverfront will forever alter the city, yet the current city council has shown no interest in overseeing the process to reinvent the crescent. I won't go into my specific reservations about the plan, particularly the plans involving the site of the naval base at the river and the industrial canal, but I did hear something worrisome at the one public meeting that I did attend. The architect giving the presentation said that NOBC would take public input into account in its design plans, but the project was going to happen because the mayor is fully committed to it. Even if I had total confidence in the mayor, I would want city council involvement in a project that big. As I've pointed out elsewhere, I noticed riverfront development money behind Willard-Lewis, Riverfront Alliance members donating to Clarkson. The fact that it even seems like a minor matter to base a vote on, indicates just how neglected the issue has been.

The other project is in Mid-City. I alluded to it yesterday, but I'll spell it out today: Cynthia Willard-Lewis has already shown that she has no qualms about voting against the recommendations of both the planning commission and Shelley Midura. I'm probably being alarmist because I haven't heard anybody else say this, but i can't see a project of that size going through without causing major traffic problems. That's been said, but there's no room to widen Carrollton Ave. I suspect that we would see pressure to widen Jeff Davis, allowing access from Earhart, down Jeff Davis, then up Orleans or Bienville.

Even if you believe that the Picayune's coverage of the garbage contracts was somehow biased, Willard-Lewis has had over two weeks to clarify her position. If she's joined Stacy Head in saying that either the ordinance needs to be rewritten or the contracts renegotiated, I haven't heard her. Her work on behalf of Metro Disposal makes it entirely reasonable to question whether Willard-Lewis' (commendable) opposition to the Chef Menteur Landfill was based on concern for the landfill's neighbors, or based on the fact that Metro owns an interest in the Gentilly Landfill.

Finally, there's the fact that Clarkson strikes so many people as, to put it politely, unpleasant. Frankly, I didn't like her when I lived in the Quarter during her first term. Of course, even though I was about thirty, I worked nights, stayed out past dawn, slept days, and had all the maturity of a nineteen year-old. I was certainly likely to be influenced by the opinions of the bar owners that I talked to. More recently, I was had a conversation with the bartender and another patron in Johnny White's one night during her second term, in response to a negative comment that I made, the other patron asked, "you don't live in the Quarter, do you?" I had never met him before, but he didn't strike me as rich yuppie. The bartender, who I did know and respect the intelligence of, told me that Clarkson was a lot more popular with residents and store owners than some bar owners. Around that time, I also saw a banner across St. Philip thanking Clarkson for the job she was doing. Of course, anybody could have out the banner up; I'm certainlt not going to argue that Clarkson is a nice person. But I'll take somebody who says mean things about homeless people, if she'll stand up to the mayor. If Wilard-Lewis is elected, we'll all be grateful for Nagin's incompetence in a couple of years.

NOPD Crime Map: Orleans Ave & Moss St.

The corner where I was hit in the head with a brick* on October 30. How much confidence can you have in a crime map that doesn't show an incident that leaves a victim with a fractured skull -- even it was only a hairline fracture?

*That's how a witness described it, and I believe that's what the police officer wrote down. It was actually a large piece of concrete from the demolition site on Moss between Toulouse and St. Peter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ceeon Quiett explains the city's position

It's actually quite simple: if you're ninety year-old grandmother, or a man who's just had a hernia operation, couldn't safely carry it down the porch stairs and out to the curb, it must be storm-related.

As Ms. Quiett put it in a letter to the editor:
SDT, Richards Disposal and Metro Disposal, vendors secured via the public bid process, face similar requirements under the city's solid waste collection contracts, except that SDT's agreement does not include construction material and is the only contract that includes sidewalk cleaning and sweeping.

What is not included in any of the solid waste agreements is the collection of storm-related debris.

So it only makes sense that the city enacted an ordinance that left residents responsible for the disposal of any waste that must be storm-related:
White said the city's trash vendors are in compliance with their contracts. She pointed to a section of the city code that places strict limits on "bulky waste," including a 25-pound cap on bundled construction and demolition waste and a provision that says debris generated by private contractors or at small-business locations is not covered.
the ordinance was adopted by the City Council in April, five months after Nagin signed the sanitation contracts and six months before FEMA terminated its mission to provide free debris pickup in New Orleans.

The measure was drafted by the Nagin administration and sponsored by Willard-Lewis.

To be fair, the "industry norms" excuse that the garbage haulers give doesn't sound completely ridiculous, but there was a paucity of bids for the contracts and potential bidders claim that the "unlimited pickup' provision was the reason that they dropped out of the bidding. In her letter, Ceeon Quiett claims that the contracts were publicly bid, but she also calls her boss a "champion of transparency". If city government really were transparent, i.e. if all city RFP's were viewable by any visitor to the city's website, we'd all have a much better idea whether misleading RFP's were really publicized to frighten away competition.

Also in Quiett's letter:
The city cannot afford to ignore any opportunity for federal reimbursement.

"Fleecing of America" here we come. Let's give the feds even more to investigate.

Yep, I have real empathy for anybody who's still agonizing over the Hobson's choice tomorrow between a council candidate who says mean things about homeless people and one who writes ordinances to help her campaign contributors make millions -- at the city's expense. Oh wait, FEMA will pay for it. I wouldn't want Ms. Quiett to think that I'm being counterproductive.

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An obvious scare tactic on my part

But I think it's valid. The two Cynthia's shot Shelley down over a coffee shop. Do you expect them to show her any more respect when it comes to much bigger projects?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When did you cast that vote, Cynthia?

Cynthia Willard-Lewis has started running an attack ad in the at-large race. Attack ads based on an opponents record are one thing, but attacks based on a poorly-worded answer to a question have always struck as an insult to the voter's intelligence and they usually involve selective editing. CWL's ad isn't available online, but it's based on the interview that Oyster discussed last week and it involves selective editing. You can listen to the answer in its entirety and decide for yourself whether Clarkson's answer to the bribery question was merely a clumsy misstatement, or if you should be shocked -- as the commercial asserts.

However, the commercial also claims that Willard voted to "initiate and fully-fund" the Inspector General's office. That struck me as odd, because, if you listen to the video at Oyster's, you'll hear CWL call for a "fully funded" IG's office, but she hedges by saying that the office should be "appropriately" funded. I don't recall the term "fully-funded" being used in last year's budget debate. As it was reported last year, the council voted $250,000 to start the office, Midura wanted more, Hedge-Morrell wanted less, and Fielgood called $250,000 an outstanding start. I got the impression that Willard-Lewis sided with Hedge-Morrell, but I may have been wrong.

As far as CWL's eagerness to take credit for "initiating" the office, well...
The council's only divided vote on the issue came on an amendment by Councilman James Carter to have the council, rather than the five-member advisory committee, do a three-month review of the new office's "guidelines and procedures."

Midura said that would compromise the office's immunity from politics, but Carter said it would help allay the fears of those who think the office would "discriminate against certain people."

His amendment passed 4-3, with Hedge-Morrell, Willard-Lewis and Oliver Thomas joining Carter, and Fielkow and Head joining Midura.

excuse me getting off topic, but why exactly should we care about who James Carter endorses?

I had hoped to do a post with more reasons to vote for Clarkson tonight, but won't be able to. Oyster and Celcus both make strong (as strong as can be made) cases for voting for Clarkson, even if you can't get enthusiastic about that vote. Adrastos puts it succinctly:
I plan to vote for Clarkson because she's a battle axe who will stand up to the executive branch if necessary. I don't care for the choice but, given the short election season, it was inevitable that the two best known candidates would end up in a run-off. It's just politics imitating life: not all our choices in other areas are appealing but we just have to muddle through.

I won't be able to post about it until tomorrow night, but anybody who's still undecided might want to think about riverfront development. I've discussed it in comments here and here, but I'll repeat myself, riverfront development will forever alter the city. Even if you have the utmost confidence in the mayor and the NOBC, you should demand more from the city council.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Old news worth remembering

The following will appear somewhere in tomorrow's Picayune:
In 2001, Stumpf and Woods formed a joint venture and submitted the only proposal to operate the new facility. In the final days of the Morial administration in early 2002, they signed a deal under which -- provided the landfill received a state permit -- they would keep 97 percent of the proceeds, with the city getting the other 3 percent.

I hope the Picayune isn't getting back into the old habit (that Adrastos* and I used to scream about) of emphasizing Morial connections and downplaying Nagin connections:

Morial pals fail to clean up in deal
By Gordon Russell

(scroll down, until you reach)
Officials with the Nagin administration would not respond to questions about whether they have sought to renegotiate the Old Gentilly landfill deal.

Bob Brickner, a Virginia consultant who often helps governmental entities negotiate landfill deals with private firms, said he would have pushed for the city to receive a substantially higher share had he been hired for negotiations.

That little tidbit was buried deep in a story about Morial pals -- like Nagin business associate Roy Rodney.

The Nagin administration also engaged in some convoluted reasoning to defend the landfill's operation:
(yet another)Nagin spokesman David Robinson-Morris said it's the city's position that the landfill "was never technically 'closed.' "

The argument apparently rests on the fact that the landfill was ordered closed -- and stopped accepting trash as a result -- but had not completed the closure process required by the state, which involved placing a layer of clay atop it. During the 1990s, New Orleans voters approved a bond issue that in part was to pay for the clay cap, but the work was never finished.

But for the purposes of zoning, city law offers definitions of "open" and "closed" that have nothing to do with state environmental law.
Times Picayune

Also worth remembering, Cynthia Willard-Lewis was a forceful advocate for the New Orleans East Vietnamese Community's demand that an eastern New Orleans landfill be closed. But that was the Chef Menteur Landfill, owned by Waste Management, not the Old Gentilly Landfill, owned by AMID/Metro.

*Couldn't find the post that I had in mind. One thing that I will say for blogger, I'd rather search for a vaguely remembered post on blogspot than on some of the other blog services.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Responses to other posts

I had two comments on other blogs fail to send earlier tonight. Since one of them was pretty lengthy, I'll combine them into one post here.

Yatpundit points out Warren Riley's rosy assessment of police recruiting:
The good news about this announcement is that Supt. Riley says the city's getting 150new NOPD officers

Sounds to me like Riley's bragging about the fact the NOPD might be managing to tread water, manpower-wise:
Starting a wide-ranging recruitment campaign, with the goal of hiring 250 to 350 new officers over the next couple years — the number Stellingworth said will be necessary to accommodate normal attrition levels

The lengthier comment was at b.rox. To begin, the commenter who said that Willard-Lewis would be much worse on preservation matters was exactly right. I'll go into more details on this in another post, but listen to what they say and look at their donors.

I'm glad that people are only repeating the rationale behind strategic voting for Willard-Lewis and not taking credit for it. The idea that by electing W-L we'll get a better District E representative to take W-L's place and a better at-large representative when she gets indicted is the lamest thing I've seen since I once saw a circle jerk in an old folks home in the days before Viagra*. I'll leave aside the issue of electing a candidate that you don't like in the belief that the federal government will solve our problem, and concentrate on District E. It appears that Michael Darnell would be the favorite in the District E race should Willard-Lewis win the at-large race. I don't know why anybody would assume that the political insider would be an improvement over the term-limited politician. I know very little about Darnell, but the two things that I do are enough to cause serious doubts. His response to the recent subpoena dispute was the entirely reasonable-sounding statement that both sides were intransigent and unreasonable. That would be a reasonable conclusion for a true outsider, like somebody from Latvia, to reach, but it strikes me as a dishonest assertion from anybody who's paid any attention to local politics for the last two years. Being reasonable and patient with the mayor leads to nothing but stalling, refusal to answer questions, vague or incomplete answers to questions, or answers that contradict each other or the known facts. Being patient and reasonable with the mayor put the city council in the position of having to approve the expensive garbage contracts or get stuck with no garbage pickup at all. That brings up the second thing that I know about Darnell, his law partner is Ed "go ahead and triple the cost of garbage collection because the contracts are going to 'homegrown' businessmen" Murray.

I don't how to put this politely, but editor b's and Jeffrey's apparent willingness to give Willard-Lewis the benefit of the doubt because of perceived bias on the part of the Times Picayune is absurd. First off, the Picayune's local reporting has always been more characterized by institutional timidity than institutional bias (notice that I said local reporting). Unless an Orleans Parish official is actually under indictment, anything critical is usually buried very deep in a story. The story about sanitation contracts was a front page story, but the questions about Willard-lewis were buried several paragraphs deep. Compare that wth a recent article that raised questions about Clarkson. Also, as I've pointed out before, by omitting Alvin Richards' contributions to Change Inc. and ignoring Metro's many partners in various enterprises, the article that Jeffrey and Bart thought was so unfair to Willard-Lewis greatly understates the campaign contributions that the sanitation companies have made to Nagin. I can only assume that same thing occurred with regard to Willard-Lewis. At any rate, the bias question is irrelevant. The article may have shown Willard-Lewis in an unfavorable light, but there's no sign that the reporter misquoted Willard-Lewis or distorted her record on the sanitation contracts.

Actual reasons for voting for Clarkson, or against Willard-Lewis, coming soon.
*Of course, I never had the pleasure of witnessing any such event.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's a serious question

It was tangential, at best, to the discussion at Oyster's, but I was serious when I asked who has the city contract for home demolitions. This piqued my curiosity:


It should go without saying that if Ray Nagin and Cynthia Willard-Lewis prevail in the debate over the meaning of the word "unlimited," Metro Disposal won't be required to pick up debris created by NOLA demolition.

Going back to an earlier question, I'd say outrageous. Jordan wasn't given a city job, but I can think of one non-profit that I won't be contributing to if I win the lottery this week. Maybe the foundation should update its website to say:
But thanks to the support of generous individuals and organizations nationwide, the NOPJF has raised over $1.3 million in funds that will go directly to help police, fire and EMS personnel (and Eddie Jordan) rebuild their lives.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007


Question for Readers:

Whose take on the city council and the IG is more likely to prove corect, Terry O'Connor's or Stephanie Grace's?

Terry O'Connor's take (H/T Jeffrey):
Still, to date, William Shakespeare would say the City Council is all sound and fury signifying nothing as far as giving Cerasoli the tools needed to quash corruption.
They talk a good game but where’s the commitment?Still, to date, William Shakespeare would say the City Council is all sound and fury signifying nothing as far as giving Cerasoli the tools needed to quash corruption. They talk a good game but where’s the commitment?

Stephanie Grace's take:
When the council passed Midura's ordinance to finally create an inspector general office -- an idea that's been part of the City Charter for more than a decade -- it was making a strong policy statement. It's inconceivable that the council would okay the job and then not give inspector general Robert Cerasoli money to get started on the job.

Since, the council voted to create the IG's office and voted for the mayor's recommendations to weaken the office on the same day, I think that Grace has a little too much confidence in either the courage or the common sense of the city council. The only way the office will be adequately funded is if Willard-Lewis is forced to make a firm commitment to a specific level of funding, beyond "adequate," or even "fully-funded." Which leads to:

Question for the local media:

Will some interviewer ask the council-at-large candidates if they will commit to Nagin's $1.3M for the IG without a property tax "roll forward," combined with the $1.5M that Nagin wants for a tactical trash force? Or do you think the city should be spending money to clean up debris that Richards Disposal and Metro Disposal contracted to pick up?

Of course, that leads to more questions, including:

Considering the city's desire to enrich politically connected businessmen, can anybody really blame the fired D.A.'s office employees?


Question for three New Orleans legislators:
On Friday, several speakers, including state Sen. Ed Murray and state Reps. Austin Badon and Cedric Richmond, urged the City Council to approve the contracts with the two African-American-owned trash haulers, Alvin Richard and Jimmie Woods, who were described as 'home-grown" businessmen.

So, how about it, Ed Murray, Austin Badon and Cedric Richmond, last year, you all urged the city council to award lucrative contracts to a couple of "home-grown" businessmen, will you urge the city council to hold them to those contracts this year?

Unrelated budget question: Is an "$800,000 program to encourage high school students to pursue a career in law enforcement" really that high a priority for the city council? It doesn't sound like a cost-effective way to recruit police officers to me, but it does sound like a way to create a couple of cushy jobs with at least one take home car. It would probably include a couple of contracts for "home-grown" businessmen to print up materials, though.

Don't think the last question gives away anything in the plot of No Country for Old Men, but be warned that it might.

Non-political question: Did anybody else who read No Country for Old Men have trouble figuring out the shootout at the motel? Since the character involved no longer had the transponder, the shooting didn't really make sense, IMO. Could be a case of me hurrying to finish a novel and reading the last 50 or 60 pages more carelessly than the first couple of hundred pages.

On second thought, there may have been two shootouts at hotel/motels (can't remember for sure), I'm referring to the one near the end of the novel, at the drive-up motel.

Edited to correct the error that Adrastos pointed out. I blame my personal experience with the city's crime problem, i.e. my head injury.

Meeting ACoE/Bayou St. John


Do you have an interest in Bayou St. John?

From the Times-Picayune, September 26, 2007:

On the New Orleans lakefront, the corps also is considering whether to raise the height of the existing gate at the mouth of Bayou St. John and raising floodwalls and levees in that area, or closing off the bayou mouth with a new levee on the lake side of the Lakeshore Drive bridge.

Closing off the bayou mouth with a new levee?

The Lake Ponchartrain Basin Foundation has arranged for an informational meeting to hear from the Army Corps of Engineers about measures that would impact Bayou St. John.

You will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

Please attend:

Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007

Time: 10 AM

Location: Cabrini High School Cafeteria

(Bayou St. John between Moss and Esplanade)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Isn't there an election coming up?

If you read the city's needed alternative, you'll find lots of speculation about an election that will be held next Fall, but almost nothing about an election that's coming up in ten days. If you think that there was no reason for an article about the D.A.'s office to mention the city council or the city council election, you could have a bright future in the New Orleans press corps. Nobody at the city's daily newspaper, or any of it weeklies, seems to see the connection either.

As I pointed out in September, the connection should be obvious. There's very little that the city council can do about most of the problems in the D.A.'s office, but one problem would seem to be a matter of setting budget priorities:
“The Violent Offenders Unit has very good lawyers but they get completely overwhelmed by the fact that they don’t have the support staff they need,” Snyder said.

To find the money for most of the expenditures that the city needs, the council would probably need to take some money from things that Nagin wants. We have the great good fortune to have a council election at the same time as the city council is holdings budget hearings and no interviewers are taking advantage of it. An obvious question that any interviewer with half a brain would ask the candidates is, "where specifically would you get the money for that?" Better yet, "with so many pressing needs, would you be willing to tell the mayor that he's bat shit crazy if he expects the city council to allocate $1.5M for a tactical trash force, just to save Metro and Richards Disposal money?" There are other items that should be discussed before the election.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Cowardly Watchdog, Take 4

The Times Picayune's recent editorial about garbage collection may well be hard-hitting in some ways, but the editors at the Picayune keep pulling the same obvious punches where mayor Nagin is concerned.

To return to the subject of my last post, last year, I intended to do three related posts on the seemingly unrelated subjects of city pay raises, the garbage collection contracts and the mayor's efforts to stack the city's municipal boards. However, lack of time and other considerations kept me from me finishing those posts. I'll attempt to put up abbreviated versions of all three before the budget vote. What all three matters have in common, BTW, is that, in each case, we saw a city council that was too timid to assert its status as an equal branch of government, a mayoral administration that got away with making statements that blatantly contradicted each other or the known facts, and a press corps that refused to hold the mayor to the same standards as it held officials in Baton Rouge or in neighboring parishes, or to even hold the mayor to his own standards, to say nothing of hoisting the mayor on his own petard -- despite ample and obvious opportunities to do so. For the sake of brevity, I'll focus on holding the "champion of transparency" to his own standards and hoisting the mayor, who made an issue of his opponent's campaign contributions, on his own petard.

Any discussion of the garbage collection contracts should begin with the May 2006 mayor's race, if not earlier. During the runoff, the mayor aired a devastating attack ad that questioned why people were giving so much money to his opponent. Of course, the professional media couldn't question the mayor's contributions during the election unless his opponent made an issue of it.* However, it did cause one amateur journalist, me, to look at the list of donors to the Nagin campaign and say, in effect, "mother f***** ain't got a godd*** stitch of clothing:"
Considering... the mayor's insinuations about taking donations from individuals who might want to profit from the city, it seems like the mayor gets a lot of Benjamins from companies in the disposal, scrap metal or landfill business.Considering... the mayor's insinuations about taking donations from individuals who might want to profit from the city, it seems like the mayor gets a lot of Benjamins from companies in the disposal, scrap metal or landfill business.

As I said, there were valid reasons for the press not to comment during the election, but, once the election was over, every city contract to Nagin donor was fair game. Every expensive, or otherwise questionable, contract to a Nagin donor certainly should have been.

Michelle Krupa's recent article on the sanitation contracts made an issue of te fact that Metro and Richards Disposal both donated to the Nagin campaign, but she understated the extent of the campaign contributions. Not only did Richards Disposal contribute to the Nagin campaign, its owner, Alvin Richards donated personally. He also contributes to Change, inc.. As I've explained before, any discussion of campaign contributions by Metro Disposal should also include the affiliated firms, AMID Landfill and AMID/Metro Partnerships; arguably, Durr Construction should be included as well. The recent editorial didn't mention campaign contributions at all. More importantly, when the contracts were proposed in September 2006, the Picayune did a good job of reporting on the Nagin administration's attempts to understate the costs, but it didn't mention campaign contributions at all, not even once. Four months after the mayor got re-elected by making an issue of campaign contributions, the mayor proposes expensive sanitation contracts for large donors and the media doesn't find it noteworthy. Had it been mentioned, it's reasonable to ask what subsequent developments might have been avoided. Of course, once the contracts were approved, the only thing that mattered was that the French Quarter was clean.

Time won't permit going into as much detail about transparency as I'd like, but shortly after the election, the mayor gave his "100 day" presentation in which he made a big show of promising transparency and also made a vague reference to the garbage contracts. Vague as the reference was, the mention of three zones would indicate that he had at least the general plan worked out. Yet, over the next four months, the mayor and his sanitation director doled out information on the contracts in a piece meal fashion that was anything but transparent. By all accounts, the RFP's called for unlimited pickup of debris and bulk items, however, ordinary residents can't see RFP's on our transparent city website. Had we been able to see the original contract proposals, the sanitation contracts might seem less suspicious. I doubt it but they might. If the mayor is going to claim to be the "champion of transparency," Schroeder's right, the city's purchasing portal needs to be accessible to all. I'm not sure of the terminology, but I'm sure that it would be easy to set up different levels of access, so that only legitimate vendors could submit bids, but everybody could see RFP's.

I know that this is all old news, but, the council should remember how it got taken advantage of by the mayor last year (I'm assuming that most members were really angry about the sanitation contracts) and the sanitation ordinance is still being debated. The mayor's suggestion that FEMA should pay for debris collection instead of the companies with the contracts is sure to embarrass the city and make it difficult to get more aid. I'd even lay 50/50 odds that the mayor's asinine statement makes it from the internet to NBC's "Fleecing of America" or Anderson Cooper's "Keeping Them Honest" by the end of the week. If the mayor, or Cynthia Willard-Lewis, or any other council members are going to insist on embarrassing the city with arguments about the meaning of "unlimited", they should be embarrassed with questions about campaign contributions.

*I don't know why Landrieu didn't answer the ads, but it would be fair to place some of the blame on the biased coverage of the TV media that the mayor claims to have run against. Even after Nagin began his attack ads, TV commentators insisted on complimenting both candidates for running such clean campaigns without mud-slinging. Had Landrieu responded, he would have been labeled the mud-slinger.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Time constraints, blogging and the revised sanitation code

I don't know if most non-bloggers realize how few of us do this for a living. Most of us have full time jobs as well, more or less, full personal lives and make the time to do this when we can. To the best of my knowledge, that's true of every local blogger.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I'll say that I understood that the city council had no choice but to award the ridiculously expensive sanitation contracts last year, in part because it allowed the liar-in-chief (a.k.a. the mayor) and his deputy liar (a.k.a sanitation director Veronica White) to stonewall until it was too late to find an alternative. However, I couldn't figure out why a city council that was so furious at the liar and deputy liar in November, gave them everything they wanted in the sanitation code in April*. Unfortunately, with all the posting that I've done about garbage cans and garbage contracts, I never did the follow-up to what as intended as a preliminary post about the revised code. In the discussion at editor b's, Jeffrey, and some other commenters, are correct that the entire council has some explaining to do*.

However, Jeffrey's flat out wrong to say that the Picayune shouldn't have made an issue of Metro Disposal's campaign contributions to Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Those contributions may not be as relevant as Metro's contributions to Mayor Nagin, as I'll explain in my next post, but they're certainly relevant. If an elected official, especially one who's seeking citywide office, puts the interest of two businesses that contributed to her campaign ahead of the best interests of the city, her conflict of interest should be pointed out. The fact that she's so loyal her to her benefactors that she felt the need to redefine the word "unlimited." Somebody (can't find the reference) referred to it as a case of editorial content seeping into the Picayune's reporting, it seems to have stayed there.

*On a related note, the new provision that buildings with more than four units are not covered by the new contracts is one (there are others) that could prove to be a major problem in the future. The deputy liar claims that that has always been the law, but the provision is, at best, one possible clarification of a previously ambiguous law.

Follow-up question: How long will it conservative bloggers, right wing bloggers, Rush Limbaugh or FOX News to have a heyday with the following?
Couching the budget decision as a strategic maneuver, Nagin said boosting next year's "trash force" line-item to provide for debris collection is a better option because FEMA would be more likely to reimburse the cost of the work than if the city forces Richard's and Metro to do the job.

I'm assuming that they haven't yet.

*corrected 11/25/07, originally typed November instead of April, which made the sentence meaningless.

An obvious WTF

To monitor the ambitious brick-and-mortar program, Nagin plans to establish a "project delivery unit" inside City Hall. The unit will serve a dual purpose: to help project managers navigate the city's bureaucratic maze and to guard against waste.
Times Picayune

Now let me see if I've got this straight, the mayor believes that the city is so broke that limited funding for an independent IG's office requires a "roll forward" of property tax millages. Yet, he believes that the city can afford to create a new office, presumably answerable to the mayor, to perform many of the duties of the IG's office. Am I reading that correctly? Hasn't the mayor been bringing us efficiency and transparency, instead of a bureaucratic maze, for six years? Will the paper report how much he's requesting for this office? Have any city council members noticed that questions about the mayor's integrity have finally spread beyond the blogosphere?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Today's column makes it obvious, James Gill has the same feelings for the mayor as the mayor has for new garage cans:
Adroit Nagin guides the DA offstage
Having stood firm against Jordan's supplications, Nagin adopted the role of political maestro.

If Gill turned his trademark wit on the mayor when he wasted city funds on expensive bombproof garbage cans two years ago, I missed it. I know that he didn't write anything about the city's announcement that those cans had been removed to be "cleaned and serviced" last year, and he still hasn't written anything about the decision to spend city funds to satisfy the mayor's desire for something large. When our real estate developer mayor, came up with a questionable plan to shake up the downtown real estate market, Gill showed his famous sarcasm, but none of it was aimed at the mayor. But with today's column, Gill completely embarrasses himself.

Since the city council is debating next year's budget, I will point out what one neglected fact about the mayor's apparent preference for length over girth, he city council must have approved last year's purchase of suitably long cans. Presumably, there will be another $335,000 for new cans buried somewhere in this year's budget request. Altogether, the mayor wants to spend half as much on new garbage as the IG's office. If he's not corrupt, he's crazy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Waiting for the Levee

When the November issue of the November issue of the New Orleans Levee gets posted online, out-of-towners (and those who didn't get a print copy) will be able to see that the top story is a satiric piece about the mayor's size fetish. It's a little late now, but since I saw the print edition last weekend, I've been planning a post about dropping the civility and collegiality where the mayor and his sanitation department are concerned. Quite frankly, I didn't find the Levee piece all that funny, but realized that everybody who pays any attention knows that Nagin and Veronica White are shameless liars. Prior to Katrina, Gambit Weekly was ready to admit it, but the Picayune was happy to blame the obvious lies on Charles Rice. Charles Rice is gone, but the lies are still obvious.

The point of that post was going to be that some people might owe Ralph Lupin an apology. You might recall that when Ralph Lupin sorta called Veronica White a bitch, Jarvis DeBerry explained to us that "bitch" is a racist term. I thought that Lupin's unfortunate choice of words reflected the exasperation of somebody who had been lied to. Since the dishonesty surrounding all of the dealings of the sanitation department is undeniable, doesn't Jarvis DeBerry owe Ralph Lupin an apology. Since DeBerry was once man enough to admit that he had cried, shouldn't he be man enough to admit that he was wrong. This would be pointless, except for the fact I expect Nagin to make another move to replace Lupin on the VCC.

Obviously, today's news overshadows all of the above. I don't have much to add to what's been said elsewhere, but when Michelle Krupa mentions campaign contributions by Metro Disposal, she should also mention Jimmie Woods' other companies, AMID Landfill and AMID/Metro Partnership, as well as Durr Construction -- Metro's partner in AMID. All can be found on Nagin's donor list; if one can be found contributing to Willard-Lewis, the others probably can be as well. Dangerblond discussed the meaning of unlimitted, but I will point out that the federal government took Veronica White at her word:
A FEMA spokesman said agency officials took into account the city's contracts with Richard's and Metro when deciding to halt free debris collection in New Orleans.

"The city has the ability to sustain future debris removal and (collection of) large items through their current municipal solid waste contractor(s)," spokesman Bob Josephson said, adding that FEMA officials learned about the unlimited bulky waste provisions because city leaders highlighted them to the press.

Beyond that see the discussion at b.rox.

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