Friday, September 21, 2007

Moldy City Politics

I've often wondered if working for C. Ray was the trigger that set off Krazy Kim's psychosis. If she weren't stark raving bonkers, the city council race might have at least one honest reformer:
In hiring Kimberly Williamson Butler as his first chief administrative officer, Nagin approvingly cited an episode in which Butler, as director of the Downtown Development District, refused to cave into political pressure and award a street-cleaning contract to AME.

Metro Disposal, meanwhile, was written up and briefly put on probation by former Sanitation Director Lynn Wiltz, who said in memos that the company had failed to live up to parts of its contract. Wiltz was fired a few months later, and Rice has said he is satisfied with Metro Disposal's performance.

Ditto for AME, he said.

"My experience with AME has been positive," he said. "They've done a pretty good job for us maintaining Gallier Hall and several other buildings."

The article linked above does raise a serious question: if Jimmie Woods owned an office-temp service, would the D.A.'s office have the support staff problems described by former prosecutor Harry Tervalon in today's Picayune:
Our assistant district attorneys are competent and dedicated, but they are seldom "over target" due to an atrocious lack of support and personnel and a mountain of paperwork. Today, assistant district attorneys leave quickly because they are frustrated by the environment.

Any large office must have adequate support staff. There is no secretarial pool in the district attorney's office. The district attorney asked a City Council committee Wednesday for money to hire clerical staff, but in the meantime prosecutors must do all the typing and copying.

Of course, the amount that city spends on the D.A.'s office staff might triple, but if that's what it takes to avoid the discovery problems described by former prosecutor Cate Bartholomew...

Considering the number of allies and associates that Morial and Nagin have in common, it's only fair to ask whether the animosity between the two is more likely the animosity between a corrupt politician and a reformer, or the animosity between two corrupt politicians vying for control of a corrupt city government. With that in mind, I really have to disagree with Stephanie Grace:
The probe into Morial-era contracts, by any objective measure, has been a huge success. Among the high-profile figures who've pleaded guilty are Morial uncle and ex-Regional Transit Authority consultant Glenn Haydel, former property management director Kerry DeCay and operative Stan "Pampy" Barre, who in turn helped the feds nab ex-Councilman Oliver Thomas, a member of the rival BOLD political organization.

Three of the four were out of the loop at the time of their guilty pleas; objectively, hugely successful probes nab crooks that are still in a position to steal. I'm not quite ready to suggest a Syriana scenario in which prosecutors need big names, but don't want to upset the apple cart, but there better be a good explanation for the failure to indict Barre's partners.

I hate to criticize Clancy DuBos for something that's intended as a hard-hitting editorial, but he's back to criticizing Nagin for not understanding politics. That criticism didn't didn't hurt Nagin very much in the mayoral election, it's not likely to be any more effective in the campaign to control the city's rebuilding. Come on, Clancy, New Orleans needs an alternative. Before Katrina, you flirted with questioning the mayor's integrity, go back to acting like an alternative. It's time to ask whether the problem isn't so much that the mayor doesn't understand politics, as that he does understand graft.

"objectively, hugely successful probes nab crooks that are still in a position to steal."

great point.
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