Saturday, December 06, 2008

One difference between bloggers and journalists

Bloggers ask stupid questions: Did the city council hire Strategic Planning Associates to help J.P. Morrell get the endorsement of Jefferson Parish politicians?

Journalists repeat baseless allegations: Shawn Barney is soldiering on in a down ballot election that's not even getting local attention to increase turnout in a congressional election that's even getting national attention.

When I questioned the contract with Strategic Planning in November, I was primarily concerned with the apparent conflict of interest: the firm hired to advise the council on budget matters has a business partnership with one of the city's garbage contractors -- a partnership in the demolition business. Since the item about about the contract appeared as an unrelated item in the weekly political roundup that reported J.P. Morrell's endorsement by several prominent Jefferson Parish politicians, I felt compelled to question the coincidence. Strategic Planning Associates and its owner, Charlotte Burnell, are very well-connected in Jefferson, but that seems to be Strategic Planning's first contract with the City of New Orleans. It certainly seems to be the first that was big enough to mentioned in the paper. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find that information on the city website.

Anyway, until yesterday, I was willing to ignore that post as an example of a rightly ignored pointless question.* Early on, Oyster's post made me wonder if the problem wasn't with my question, but with the fact that I raised a question rather than made an accusation. My question was no more ridiculous than Clancy's allegation. Then, I read Bruce Eggler's column. Word has it the city council didn't get much for its $15,000.

*I remain convinced that it was inexcusable to hire a Metro Disposal business partner to advise the council on budget matters. It might have just been carelessness, and it may be a small partnership, but it was still inexcusable.

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