Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nagin (R-New Orleans)

This comment came in from the last LIFT post:

Why the Feds continue to give Nagin a pass on his dirty deals and corrupt contracting practices. . .

Former Nagin Chief of Staff Garey Foster met with Karl Rove of the White House on numerous occaisions (beginning late Summer 2002 through at least early summer 2004) to push the White House to advance the investigations of the previous administration to remove any political threat to Nagin's future. Foster convinced Rove that Nagin was the most agreeable (and maleable) mayor a Republican White House could have in a city like New Orleans - besides, Nagin contributed from his personal funds the maximum allowable under federal campaign finance laws. Rove agreed to aggresively focus on the previous administration, convenient because Morial was a heavyweight among Louisiana democrats and the key to Sen Mary Landrieu's Election. (Poor Jim Letten was only "acting" U.S. Attorney and had no choice but to play along to keep Rove happy and keep his job - Letten wasn't appointed to the permanent job until 2004, a reward for toeing the line and his success in uncovering slimy deals and trashing Morial's reputation and political future. And if Letten continues to do Rove's bidding by giving Nagin a pass, Rove has assured him that the White House will support Letten to succeed Jindal in Congress after Jindal is elected governor.)Trashing Morial and investigating Morial cronies and relatives, while at the same time overlooking the same shennanigans and self dealing of Nagin's cronies (Meffert, Charles Rice and his brothers, Foster, David White, et al) would insure that Morial wouldn't challenge Nagin for re-election. (remember,this is all Pre-K) Despite all of the mounting evidence here (thanks, Dambala!) and elsewhere, the Feds have been quiet, and careful to protect the reputation of Nagin and his band of thieves. But they may find more than they can ignore in the LIFT investigation. Nagin was all over this thing and struck the sweetheart deal to sell the city land for LIFT's "Film Factory" project near the Lafitte Housing Development. Nagin even agreed to LIFT's request to demolish the relatively undamaged Lafitte Project because LIFT didn't want "those people" across the street. This is where the rush to demolish the housing project began - it had nothing to do with wanting to create safer, better communities for the working poor, elderly and disabled.

If the Feds spend 10 percent of the time and money they've spent investigating Morial looking into Nagin's cronies, former staff and family, then we'll see a parade headed for the pen, for sure. Obviously I can't confirm the validity of this post...but wow. If Letten announces a run for Jindal's House seat...I guess we'll know won't we?

I think this may be the heaviest post ever submitted to AZ. It concerns me to publish it because it could be misinformation, but it's too heavy not to at least air it out and see.

LIFT pushed to have the Lafitte Housing development demolished and Nagin complied? damn. Now tell me again that I was out of bounds for asking if Nagin is actually African-American.

Anon...I have been trying to put a lot pieces of the puzzle together from emails and information I get behind the blog....what can you tell me about Scott Sewell....former staffer for George H. Bush??? I've been informed that his fingerprints are all over the Benetech no-bid contracts. Any extra info. you can provide is appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I think there are a few tenuous connections there.

Morial the key to Mary's victory over Haik-Terrell? Help, yes, but "key" is kind of a stretch.

They went after Morial because he was out of office, as they did with Edwards. And who knows who he or his daddy had crossed along the way.

Nagin may cheer redevelopment, he does not have any control over the housing developments. HUD controls the destiny of the developments (they took over HANO prior to Katrina) and has been quite good at telling locals and state officials who don't like the tear down/gentrification strategy to talk to the hand. The only thing state and local officials, as well as tenant groups can do is scream loudly, possibly file lawsuits, but this is in the hands of the Feds...the Republican Feds, they don't need C Ray.

And personally, I don't think Rove gives a rats ass about LA, or NO. And they are far too many potential administration lackies for them to bother. They got Vitter for a song.

oyster said...

Damn interesting reading, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

AMY GOODMAN: Jed, I just wanted to interrupt for a second. You said, the Mayor. You're talking about Mayor Nagin, a protégé of Karl Rove?

JED HORNE: Well, a subscriber to the same philosophy and a man pleased to chat with Rove on occasion, when he has had contact with the White House.

....the Times-Picayune’s Stephanie Grace had described some back-channel chatter—chit-chat involving Karl Rove:

GRACE (7/29/04): [Nagin] may be the only local Democrat who’s recently gotten a call from the other side, specifically Bush mastermind Karl Rove, who is well aware of Nagin’s business background and past willingness to cross party lines.

Nagin said he’s heard from Rove a couple of times during the campaign, most recently about two weeks ago. Rove’s stated message, Nagin said, was that Bush understands that Nagin can’t support the president but just wants to keep in touch, and make sure that the mayor is satisfied with the city’s relationship with the Bush administration, particularly when it comes to public housing issues. The implication, Nagin figured, is that the mayor might not want to "get too crazy" in his support of Kerry. It wasn’t a threat, Nagin said, just smart politics—a friendly reminder, albeit one that made him a bit uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

so what if the feds are interested? what would we want them to know about? silicon bayou? a plane trip to a football game? AFO? I'm being completely serious, and I'm starting a list, naming 3. anyone else? How many specific items would we like investigated? crime cameras, IT contract, emergency communications contract? ok, now we got 6. come on ya'll let's pile 'em on.

on topic, here's something from the past:

How Ray Nagin Won His First Term as Mayor of New Orleans
Biot #337: March 04, 2006

Fireworks did initially not characterize the runoff campaign demonstrated by the two candidates. For example, on the day after the primary election Pennington and Nagin arrived unceremoniously at a French Quarter television studio at 8 a.m., Nagin alone and Pennington accompanied only by his driver and a public relations aide. Inside, the two men sat on stools facing each other without animosity. Both attended the Super Bowl with Nagin sitting with his friend restaurateur and campaign treasurer David White in a luxury box belonging to businessman John Georges (his and White’s partner as co-owners of the New Orleans Brass minor-league hockey team) and Pennington sitting in a suite with US Representative William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, his campaign chairman, and other supporters. Congressman Jefferson became well known during the US Congress House hearings on the Hurricane Katrina response.

However, as Pennington’s popularity waned, he began using harsher campaign tactics, including reading from a prepared statement February 12, 2002 while standing on the steps of City Hall the following: “Given what I know of [Ray Nagin]'s business dealings, if he were a police officer who worked for me, I would fire him. I would fire him on the spot.” (18) As he handed each page of his statement to an aide as he finished reading it, Pennington said, “This information is surprising. But more than that, this information is shocking and disappointing. It is information that sickens me to my core. I hate abuse. I hate hypocrisy. I hate corruption. The information that has been brought to my attention proves that I do not know Ray Nagin. But more importantly it proves that the public doesn't know Ray Nagin either.” (18) Some observers within Nagin’s circle blamed Congressman Jefferson for Pennington’s negative campaign strategy.

Pennington’s press secretary Pierre DeGruy resigned three days later citing Pennington’s criticism of Nagin’s past business practices while offering no examples. Pennington then started running ads referring to Nagin as “Ray Reagan” and, on February 16, 2002, held an afternoon news conference with his wife Rene to charge Nagin with circulating an anonymous letter that falsely accused Pennington of drunkenness and wife-beating, which Nagin vehemently denied. (19) Rene Pennington reported: “My husband has never raised his hand to me.” Pennington’s campaign team also dug up dirt on an aberrancy in Nagin’s resume that listed him as a certified public accountant. As it turned out, Nagin passed the exam in Texas, but failed to complete the licensing process because he was moving into management at the time. He reported that he still uses the designation because he is proud of passing the grueling 2 -day exam. (20) Nagin liked to point out that New Orleans crime statistics increased in 2001.

During the fourth televised debate between the two candidates, Pennington continued Sunday night to depict “Ray Nagin as a habitual liar who couldn’t be trusted with the reins of city government, while Nagin painted Pennington as a foundering candidate reduced to taking cheap shots in the hope of saving his bid for office. Pennington said that Nagin claim[ed] to be a certified public accountant; claim[ed] to have paid a traffic ticket that instead Nagin had gotten ‘fixed,’ in Pennington's words; and misstate[ed] the role that Mayor Marc Morial played in helping Nagin bring the minor-league Brass hockey team to New Orleans. Nagin challenged that, saying the campaigning [had] indeed been negative, and that some of the claims Pennington [had] made have been false. For instance, while a pro-Pennington ad said Nagin had moved hundreds of jobs from New Orleans to Jefferson Parish as head of Cox, Nagin said the company’s employment in New Orleans [had] grown substantially under his tenure.”

Anybody know what Pennington was talking about?

Anonymous said...

Celcus, no disrespect but i think you're wrong. I've heard from the attorneys on the public housing lawsuit that HANO is in receivership to HUD because Nagin requested it in a letter, and could have the properties back under local control with a simple request.

bayoustjohndavid said...

Since it should have been the first scandal of the Nagin administration, I'll point out that the commenter left out Nagin's "Billy Carter" brother-in-law from the list of cronies. The one who was such an embarassment to Nagin in 2002 that he was a paid consultant to Nagin's re-election campaign and a featured speaker at the second inauguration.

I would have agreed with Celcus about Rove before Katrina (probably, but if there's an easy way to divide and weaken Dems -- even at a local level-- why not?), but not since,
after all he'd obviously prefer a mayor who blames Baton Rouge rather than Washington. I'm still wondering where Nagin's going to point the finger if Jindal gets elected. But if such a meeting took place, it probably wasn't so much asking for a Morial investigation, as asking that it not go in certain directions -- Nagin and Morials have too many cronies in common, at most they're like rivals in the same crime family.

Once again, I'll link to an old article that indicates that Roy Rodney and other Morial cronies were letting people think they supported Troy Carter when they really supported Nagin. link.

I don't know if a Letten candidacy would prove anything. With Eddie Jordan looking like such a loser, there's all the more reason to think highly of Letten. He's now considered the guy who got Edwards and is a natural for a Republican district.

Jason Brad Berry said...

In terms of the Cox issue, yes, I do know what Pennington was referring to...or at least some of what he was referrring to:

Anonymous said...

So, does this mean that LIFT has "fallen down"? And to think, Blakely & Co. drew a whole "re-develop area" around it. Now what?

Hey, maybe somebody from Victory will read this and decide to build a film studio on their (much larger) parcel nearby, rather than the dreaded Elmwood East.

Oh, and could Anon. #3 or someone please elaborate on Clarence asking HUD to put HANO in receivership? If that's true, then the tenants and their advocates need to meet and greet him at 1300 Perdido much the way the Silence is Violence group did on Jan. 11.

Anonymous said...

this makes sense. right after Katrina there were certain mayoral execs that boosted about visiting Karl Rove in the White House. Word hasn't even Meffert and his crew which includes some Republican notables as Mark St. Pierre and Scott Sewell were bragging about meeting with Rove.

Scott was appointed to the HDLC right before Meffert resigned. Guess who oversaw the HDLC: Meffert. One source has confirmed that there is a connection to Scott Sewell and Benetech's Aaron Bennett.

This is disturbing...these guys have blood on their hands.

Professor Zero said...

*Very* intersting and makes sense even if parts are tenuous. I'll be watching.

Anonymous said...

Ashe' Dambala!

The links you provided last are cut off at the end. Can you please re-post? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Nagin did request that HUD put HANO into administrative receivership a few months after he took office in 2002. So Nagin gave up local control to a Bush crony from Texas (former Dallas Housing Authority hack Don Babers) who serves as the one-man board of commissioners of HANO. No one who actually lives in New Orleans has any authority or say in anything that HANO does. Their are effectively a slave to HUD. By statute, this administrative, or voluntary, receivership can last no longer than two years, but this receivership is into year 5. Better for Nagin so he can doubletalk his way to lame HUD for everything and anything.

Anonymous said...

I read today's paper regarding the sentencing of Morial crony Kerry DeCay and although I was pleased to see justice was served, it reminded me how much is yet to be done. How can a City be so damn corrupt that even when a major investigation lands three (3) big boys I still don't feel encouraged or satisfied?

So I started wondering...What the fuck is taking Letten so long to launch a full assault on Nagin, Meffert and crew? Especially, Meffert and crew. I can't help but think there is some truth to your post. It's obvious that AG Gonzales in using politics in his decision to keep or fire U.S. Attorneys and the overall operation of the AG office. So one must conclude that Letten is carrying out the agenda of the Bush administration and he's perceived as doing a good job so he remains there.

Then why not Meffert and crew? Are they being protected? Given able time to cleanup and coverup their acts? Given heads up or specific legal advice on how to stay clean?

Someone once told me that Nagin and David White considered themselves the "New Negroes" and smarter than the average bear. They would know how to get it done, stay clean and out of jail. They represented a new breed of African American businesssmen that could "play the game" effectively. Funny how two guys who didn't have anything to do with politics could become so cunning and astute in ripping the City off so fast.

Funny how no one has questioned the lack of checks and balances on David White. It's one thing to have a confidant and someone you can trust by your side. It's another to have that individual meeting with department heads and executives on his own, providing direction on major City initiatives and providing recommendations on contracts or vendors. Imagine the Mayor's confidant suggesting you give vendor X a look. What do you think that implies to the Dept Head or Exec?

We also need to find out more on this IG guy. Part of the game is to give in to pressure on issues that you know you can't win in the court of public law. That's exactly what Nagin did. He knew there was no way he could fight against the IG in theory or practice. So the only way to deal with that is to make sure "your guy" is chosen. I don't believe in the board overseeing anything because anybody can be bought. This City has proven that countless times. We need to know who this guy is connected to. Who he has met with before and during his candidancy for the position. I wouldn't be surprised to find Meffert or someone connected to him has met with this guy.

This is the last opportunity to change N.O. If the IG is tainted, then there's no hope for N.O. Better to know that now than 5 or 10 yrs from now. That way we could take the fight to the streets or simply leave and move on with our lives.

I need to see these guys being vigorously pursued as with Morial, FDB and others we are learning of. Why wait until after years of fleecing the City to go after them? We need it to stop NOW!!!

We need to stop embracing Letten as the champion of corruption unless he sets up shop in City Hall and put the screws on Nagin et al. Short of that he hasn't done shit but take the easy wins. He's actively vocal about the obvious IDIOTS such as the judges and district attorney. However, it's obvious Nagin, Meffert and crew think they are smarter and more clever than their predecessors so if Letten wants to prove something take on the challenge of out smarting these guys. Anyting short of that than the entire post on this conspiracy lends itself to be true.

Anonymous said...

Concerning Nagin: I recently heard from a friend of mine who was low bid on a contrat with the City. When he went to complete the arrangements he was told by "one of Nagin's group" that he would have to give a % of the contract to them if he expect to be awarded the contrat.

My friend told me he didn't know what to do since his bid didn't provide enough profit to pay a bribe as well.

Anonymous said...

scott sewell is an owner of benetech. he also is president of home solutions (nasdaq symbol hsoa) a contractor that is doing lots of public work in new orleans. hsoa has been mentioned as a fraud by the website

Anonymous said...