Friday, April 04, 2008

Tassels in a Twist (Over Mose Jefferson's Lawyer)

Even if no corruption is involved, the city's grandiose plans for the public library system are a world class example of the path to a bigger and better bankruptcy. It's not being a nay-sayer to say, "Just fix things. Fix what was broken by the federal flood. To the degree that it's possible, fix the things that were broken before." To attempt to do more, is to risk accomplishing nothing. I'll expand on this in an upcoming post, but this letter writer makes a valid point.

I've tried to avoid getting into full-fledged Tucker Carlson mode when discussing the mayor's library board appointments because I could understand why more people didn't express outrage. To be sure, the mayor's stated reason for replacing Tania Tetlow as head of the library board:
Addressing the reason for change, Hatfield wrote that Nagin is tying to "refresh" all the boards he controls in an attempt to avoid "entrenchment" by appointees.

doesn't pass any kind of smell test. During the same month that the mayor expressed the need to "refresh" all the boards he controls, he reappointed his friend, campaign manager, and business partner, David White, to the aviation board. Of course, Billboard Ben remains on the Sewerage & Water Board. The croniest of cronies remained on boards that traditionally oversee vast amounts of patronage, while the mayor felt the sudden need to refresh a board just it became responsible for overseeing costly rebuilding projects. But only a fool would expect outrage over an obvious lie involving millions of dollars of public money; it takes racial conspiracy theories and threats of violence from the mayor to elicit that response.

That last sentence was joke. The obvious reason for the reluctance to question the mayor's obvious lie is that nobody wants to imply anything about Irvin Mayfield's character. I'll state it one more time, I'm not implying anything about Mayfield's character. You wouldn't need a crony heading up a board that you intend to rip-off, but you certainly wouldn't want an honest law professor who could easily spot a questionable contract.

Still, my concerns would seem a little more valid if I could point to an apparent crony on the board. Well, suppose I told you that the mayor didn't just name Irvin Mayfield to the board when Tetlow was forced out; suppose I told you that he also appointed Mose Jefferson's lawyer, would you begin to wonder what was really going on? Suppose I told you that the brother of a convicted bribe-taker, who didn't have time for an indigent defense board in crisis but did have time for a library board that would suddenly be in the position of awarding huge contracts was appointed, would your curiosity be at least slightly piqued?

Unfortunately, I can't say with total certainty when Ike Spears was named to the library board; I couldn't find the exact date of library board appointments online. I worked for the New Orleans Public Library before Katrina and I don't recall Spears being a board member. I can't remember all the names of board members, but I believe that I'd remember his. At any rate, I do know that this crusader against assessment reform* is a board member now. I also know that the appointment is recent enough that neither his law firm bio nor his zoominfo page mention it. Don't make me wave my hands around like the dork I am.
*Ike Spears, a lawyer working to turn back the I.Q. effort, said Ms. Jefferson — the sister of the local Democratic congressman, Representative William J. Jefferson — had nothing whatsoever to do with these legal challenges to the I.Q. movement, which he tried to dismiss by invoking an image from a past nightmare.

"When people were being airlifted off their homes, when people were in the Superdome, nobody was crying out for a single assessor," Mr. Spears said angrily.

Still, though Betty Jefferson is not named in the actual lawsuit, her name does appear as the complainant on the cover page of a fax from Mr. Spears's office.

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Everybody seems to have something to say when it comes to board appointments , and this is not the same as to have moment in the final decision of who is going to be promoted to this coveted position.
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