Thursday, November 30, 2006


One definition

Remember when Nagin issued three executive orders "designed to ensure greater opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses and environmental justice for all groups" while the city rebuilds? The Picayune reported:
With "transparent spending policies* in place," Nagin's office said, "the city is better able to position its local small businesses to access private markets."

Yet today's Picayune reported that:
The most heated issues are the (garbage collection) contracts' cost -- more than triple the current price of garbage collection citywide -- and the fine print of the pending deals with Metro Disposal and Richard's Disposal, which the Nagin administration has refused to disclose, saying the deals have not yet been signed. The contracts would call for twice-weekly pickup in most of the city.

How many verses of that song have we heard since the mayor promised transparency and accountability? It's getting to be absurd. I can understand that Shelley Midura needs to be tactful, but she needn't be quite so diplomatic:
"I want to know why the administration is being so secretive about this," Midura said. "That's just a question. Why not just come open with this? If there's nothing to be concerned about, then just come out and show us.

"I get the sense that this has been an unfortunate PR disaster for the administration that was trying to do something good, (given) the way it just snowballed into being incredibly suspicious," she said.

But it's time to call a farce, a farce. Maybe Midura needs to be diplomatic, but the mayor deserves more than a brickbat from the local media on this matter. Both James Varney and James Gill brought up campaign contributions when they wrote about snakes on a beach, but the media's ignored that aspect of this story. Who do you think I had in mind when I wrotein May, that:
Actually, man, it seems like the mayor takes a fair amount of money from businesses ... that either do business with the city, or may seek to do business with the city.
it seems like the mayor gets a lot of Benjamins from companies in the disposal, scrap metal or landfill business.

How would it be bias to ask the same questions of the mayor as other officials?

On the positive side, there was some discussion of limiting the scope of the contracts, but the three old council members and the District C reformer were unavailable for comment.

BTW, I started to use "Lying Sack of Shit" as a title, but didn't want to look like I was trying to imitate any other bloggers. Also, wouldn't it be kosher to ask why the two sanitation companies purchased the new trucks before getting the contracts? Today's paper alluded to it, but didn't really push the point. I'd like some more details on when the equipment was purchased.

*Of course, we knew that the city had transparent spending policies, because Rob Couhig had just spent 100 days giving us transparency. With all the rumors of Meffert being a Scientologist, I have to wonder if Couhig's a closet SubGenius:
Pull The Wool Over Your Own Eyes and Relax In The Safety Of Your Own Delusions.

I also remember the job that Nagin promised Couhig during a debate. Guess he was in campaign mode.

Update: It's not looking good. Still don't see the reason for seven year contracts, unless the council has a gang of four that's been bought and paid for.

I have been griping about the garbage contract process for a while now. Mayor Nagin is just like many of our recent Mayors corrupt, his behind the scenes udender cover of darkness planning is getting old. I think these contracts need to be investigated to determine if there is any payola involved.
Always impressive analysis. Christ -- we need more bloggers just to keep up with all the crap.
There's obviously something going on. I can't think of any legitimate reason for a local government to be secretive about its spending -- there's no security issue. I still can't figure out how a re-elected mayor got away with promising transparency and accountability in 100 days. A new mayor might need the time to untangle sloppy or dishonest bookkeeping, but not an incumbent. It struck me as absurd from the beginning, like a drunk promising to stop drinking in 100 days. And then he gave us an accountability matrix. I have to give him credit for that one, I never thought of a sobriety matrix.

I already mentioned the campaign donations and if it was fair to mention them when judges ran up the cost of (legally mandated) continuing legal education, it's fair to mention them when the mayor runs up the cost of garbage collection, but even when I didn't pay much attention to local politics (before Katrina) I knew who Jimmie Woods was. I'm not saying he's corrupt, but he's certainly part of the politics of the past that Nagin ran against. Secrecy where government spending is concerned, but safety and security aren't, should always be considered prima facie evidence of corruption. That's not bias, that's common sense.
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