Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ray Reagan?

My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.
Ronald Reagan, 1987

Look, I'm going to say things that I think are right based upon information that I get. I'm going to make mistakes. I'm human. But for the most part, everything I've said, in substance, is in the spirit of truth. And nobody can dispute that.
Ray Nagin, 2007

Frankly, I don't see how any reasonably well-informed person could help but dispute that. Before I do, a note on the Reagan quote. Whatever your reaction to Reagan's explanation, he at least made a factually verifiable or disprovable statement, something Nagin strives mightily to avoid doing, and admitted that he was wrong, something Nagin never does. Since the mayor avoids factually meaningful statements, but claims to speak in the spirit of truth, I humbly present:
The Spirit of Mendacity Index*

"Doing the best that I can."
In a 2006 interview Nagin said "I don't think I can satisfy everybody's needs right now, with the intensity that's out there, but I'm doing the best that I can with the number of hours in the day." He dismissed criticisms of his travel schedule as an "old criticism" and said that he had not travelled out-of-town recently. Only a few months earlier the mayor was out-of-town when the Coliseum Place Baptist Church was demolished, there was nobody in town with the authority to rescind the demolition permit.

He did start his real estate company with a business partner whom he later re-appointed to the aviation board, and the marble business with his sons before Katrina, but he still refuses to answers questions about those businesses. Apparently he can't just say that he's too busy running the city to pursue private business ventures. He volunteers the information that he repeatedly asks the city attorney whether he can legally profit from the city's blighted property. I suspect that the mayor found The One Minute Manager (or The One Minute Mayor) to be a great piece of management literature.

The mayor has gone from promising transparency -- on the city website and when he announced the 100 day plan -- to maintaining that transparent spending policies are in place. Yet the mayor's office continues to respond to reporters' questions with demands for written FOIA requests and refuses to even answer questions from city council members. I guess that in the "spirit of truth" he promised transparency on a need to know basis.

Resource allocation.
In January of this year the mayor pledged that:
We're going to take whatever nickels we have, whatever pennies we have, whatever dollars we have, and we're going to stretch it, and we're going to make this recovery work

Oh please, from a mayor, with a press office budget of over $600,000, who defended high level pay raises by saying that his staff included people with MBA's and PhD.'s. I suppose that if he hadn't given Brenda Hatfield a raise from $150K to $165K, he might not have have been able to find another education PhD. for less than two hundred thousand.

More of the index to follow, I put off weekend errands to go the the Jazz Fest yesterday.

*With apologies to The Washington Monthly

Great post, David. And I say that in the spirit of the truth...
Thank you, in the spirit of appreciation.
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