Monday, October 20, 2008

An easily tested hypothesis

I was struck by the same passage as Oyster when I read Saturday's New Orleans Politics column:
Try this conundrum on for size: Curious about who provided the informational kiosks that have shown up lately in the lobby of City Hall, The Times-Picayune recently filed a public-records request asking to see the bid documents, contracts and invoices related to the kiosks.

The response? No can do.

The city's Law Department explained that before it can make a contract available, it has to know who the contract is with. So until a reporter or member of the public knows who has a contract, he can't find out who has the contract.

The rationale for the policy isn't secrecy, according to the administration.

"The Law Department's contracts database is maintained by the name of the contractor and not by the professional services they provide," City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields wrote. "Therefore, without the name of the vendor, we cannot provide a copy of the contract you request."

But my reaction was slightly different. Since it's obvious that nobody has the slightest idea what's going on at City Hall, it's pointless to ask whether administration officials are lying or telling the truth when they respond to reporters' questions. Since it can be assumed that they usually give their best possible guess as to what's going on, the task is to determine whether they're offering valid hypotheses. In this case, the validity of Moses-Field's theory could be tested by asking for all the city contracts for various politically connected firms. I'd be willing to bet that such a request would either be denied, or answered with lists of contracts that would quickly prove to be inaccurate and out-of-date.

Hmmmmm. Is that an electronic database, or a yellow legal pad with some post it notes and some scribblescratch that they call a database?

It's not just Nagin or Blakely. Our civil service system is so ruined and corrupt, it will corrupt and ruin anyone who relies upon it. We have all these incompetent boobs in city government and no way of terminating their employment!

Sadly, the only solution is outsourcing competent companies and laying off ALL of city hall except for a contracting office under the scrutiny of the IG.
The incompetence is contrived to cover up the corruption.
I agree with both of you, except for the fact that the privatization of government work has opened up great opportunities for corruption around the country. I suspect that it's only fear of being accused of "gotcha journalism" that kept the T/P from trying my obvious idea. I wonder if I could have intimidated friends, family members, coworkers, etc. by accusing them of practicing gotcha interpersonal relations when they pointed out my obvious lies before I stopped drinking.
Hey there,
I've never commented before but I appreciate your blog.
I've noticed on, there must be a problem w/ the site blocking posters from the Nagin articles. There have been only five people commenting on Nagins tax increase and newly proposed budget. That's just not very likely. I'm able to post on other articles but not Nagin's right now. Weird, huh?
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