Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Take him to dinner, buy him steak

Whip out the credit card and make that man feel good. It looks like we may see more priority budgeting, priority budgeting as practiced by Mayor Transparency's administration
"If you're lobbying a council member or a state representative on something and you bring them to an environment where they're more comfortable and they feel more at ease talking -- as opposed to the drive-through window at McDonald's -- there's a greater likelihood of being able to prevail on the issue," Smith said.

Once again, New Orleans City Business is way ahead of the alternative newspaper that "New Orleans needs" in its reporting on the secretive practices of the transparent administration:
New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow said he is concerned with the administration’s “non-transparent” process of awarding city professional services contracts, which include contracts for accountants, engineers and various consultants.

He said the council intends to address the executive branch’s private selection process for professional service contracts May 28 at its Governmental Affairs Committee meeting.

Fielkow’s concerns reached a peak when he recently requested meeting minutes from the administration’s evaluation of request for proposals for a sports complex in eastern New Orleans but was told the meeting had not been recorded.

If he sticks to his guns, I'll never call him Fielgood again. Well, I'll certainly stop for a while.

The entire article is worth reading, but I was struck by two items:
Via an e-mailed response, Nagin’s press office answered questions about transparency saying “Requests for bids and proposals are advertised and posted on the city’s website; review committees include an outside evaluator and now also are attended by a representative from the Office of the Inspector General and final contracts are public documents.”

Inspector General Robert Cerasoli said his staff has only been “notified two or three times” of meetings.

According to a June 2005 executive order from Nagin regarding the panel review process, all deliberations are to be kept confidential and “all members of the Selection Review Panel shall be prohibited from disclosing contents of such discussions and/or deliberations to any third parties.”

“Talk about transparency,” Howard said. “(The city has) a confidentiality agreement as opposed to an open transparent approach to contracting.”

For those who persist in thinking that Nagin was a good mayor, or a reformer*, or whatever, before Katrina, do the math -- June 2005 was before August 29, 2005.

Last year, I went off on a tangent and butchered a post about Nagin's first term. When I read old articles** about the mayor's dealings with the city council, the Picayune's tortured efforts to portray Nagin as the good guy reformer reminded me of pre-Copernican efforts to explain apparently retrograde planetary motion. But, instead of rambling about vaguely remembered Karl Popper, I should have just written that it was time to admit that we had all been suckered -- Nagin never was a reformer. After the "dog and pony" show at the taxicab bureau, he didn't even bother to put on an act. We just wanted to believe.

Sorry, the follow up to last night's post will have to wait another night.

*For example: Chris Rose, "we are witnessing a public devolution from reform-minded idealist to political buffoon to race-baiting smack artist." Other than that, I'd recommend reading the column again.

**Gambit's take on the same dispute.

Maybe they should place the credit cards on-line for all to see each purchase- live. Might make them think twice a bout a trip to get a Smoothie!
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