Wednesday, August 13, 2008

They don't hear what he's not saying

Every time Nagin touts his own transparency and accountability, he all but begs for scrutiny.
Stephanie Grace March 25, 2008

I can only guess that Mr. Nagin must have taken Ms. Grace's words to heart, because I can't find any record of the mayor touting his own transparency and accountability since Ms. Grace wrote those words last Spring. In fact, the last mention that I can find* of the mayor, or any member of his administration, touting his transparency or accountability came in response to charges that Derrick Shepherd made last October. As far as I can tell, the closest that any member of the Nagin administration has come to touting the mayor's commitment to transparency this year was in May, when the mayor's spokesperson said (in regard to a proposed law to make all city contracts available to the public), the administration "supports any measure developed to continue transparency in government." That was before the city attorney opposed such transparency as unnecessary.

At least three different writers at the local paper still remember some wonderful words that mayor said six years ago:
Ironically, perhaps, Smith was at the center of an embarrassing episode early in Nagin's first term that helped cement the mayor's reformer image.

Shortly after helping manage Nagin's 2002 campaign, Smith acquired a controlling stake in Metro New Orleans Transit Inc., the firm owned by former Mayor Marc Morial's uncle that had a consulting deal with the Regional Transit Authority.

Told of the deal by a reporter, Nagin said he was "floored" and took immediate steps to void Metro's contract. "This flies in the face of everything I'm trying to accomplish in this city," Nagin said then. "For somebody out there to do this, it really bothers me."

I'd like to see at least one writer comment on the wonderful words he stopped using less than a year ago. Come on, he doesn't even bother with the act any more.

While I'm commenting on things that the local media refuse to notice, Jeffrey points out that the T/P continues to ignore the fact that many Morial associates are also Nagin associates -- something that Adrastos and I have both gotten angry about in the past. Roy Rodney was at least as close to Nagin as to Morial -- he was Nagin's business partner and helped him get elected in 2002. Of course, that could also be said of Pampy Barre, except for the fact that Barre was obviously a good deal closer to Morial. I didn't notice the mention of Barre as a Morial associate in the paper today, but I heard it on WWL this morning and on Fox 8 tonight. It would be nice if just one member of the local media went back and read that old Louisiana Weekly article.

*Searching Newsbank on the State Library database. If you have a valid library card for any Louisiana parish, just log login and select Newsbank from "statewide databases."

The mayor touted his own transparency in a letter (to the City Council and maybe Cerasoli, if I remember correctly) regarding NOAH. It was published at WWL's website, but I can't find it. In any case, the touting was in the first paragraph. The letter was published side-by-side with one from attorney Penya about how she thought that, oh, maybe the NOAH records under investigation should not be made available to the public for now. It was rather striking, the comparison of the two letters. You missed that?
I couldn't remember whether he had said it at some point in connection to NOAH or not. I also looked at the WWL website and didn't see it, but I was afraid I might have missed something. Since Newsbank only includes newspaper stories, I should have waited to use lexisnexis at work. Still, "I'm the champion of transparency" doesn't seem to be his fall back defense as much as it used to be. I think this might have even been the first year that he didn't proclaim transparency in state of the city speech.

I know this sounds like "heads I win, tails you lose," but it deserves more attention either way. City Business and WWL have made an issue of the pervasive secrecy, but other TV stations and Gsmbit (until very recently) have largely ignored it, the T/P will talk about in the contaxt of a particular issue, but not as a pattern. If he still proclaims his transparency, that (as Stephanie Grace said) invites scrutiny. If he's started shying away from that claim (I think he has), that's worth noting.

Of course, nobody really seems to think that it should have invited scrutiny when Nagin asked why people were giving money to Nagin. The T/P covered it with respect to the garbage contracts, and the Picayune and WWL both did report on the mayor's recent fundraising, but I think that Nagin's commercials made anything that even remotely suggests cronyism fair game.
"Of course, nobody really seems to think that it should have invited scrutiny when Nagin asked why people were giving money to Nagin"

That should read, "giving money to Landrieu."
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