Monday, August 18, 2008

To go where no NOLA blogger dares to go...

I just got an angry email in my AZ account from someone claiming that Nagin is being attacked because he's black and that I and "all the other bloggers" in the New Orleans blogosphere are racist....I guess the person wasn't including the African-American bloggers in this city who have been critical of Nagin as well.

By the there a pro-Nagin blog out there?


This email kind of shocked me...well not really....I should say it offends me....but then I don't really get offended so I'm not sure what verb accurately describes my reaction. You know that look people get right after they raise up from a big bong hit and hold it in? That puckered-up, "Man...I don't know if I can take this..." look? That's kind of how I felt.

"I mean come on dude....have you even read this blog?" was the first thing that ran through my mind.

The second thing was "No...of course they haven't read this blog...this is their first time...don't be so fucking arrogant."
I usually ignore accusatory emails but this one really got me thinking about race and New Orleans' politics.... so I'm writing a diatribe. Not that I'm an expert on either subject much less the interplay of the two, but I have a few insights I'd like to share.

I think to understand race and politics in this city, you have to go back to Moon Landrieu. From the info. I've gleaned, Moon was a civil rights activist in a city and state which wanted no part of that national movement. From the wiki entry:

During his tenure as mayor, Landrieu oversaw desegregation of city government and public facilities as well as business and professional organizations. Before Landrieu was elected, there were no high-ranking black employees or officials in City Hall; he worked actively to change this by appointing African Americans to top positions, including his Chief Administrative Officer. When he took office in 1970, African-Americans made up 19 percent of city employees, by 1978, this number had risen to 43 percent. He also appointed Rev. A.L. Davis, a prominent civil rights leader, to fill a temporary vacancy on City Council; Davis thus became the city’s first black city councilor.

We must remember that this city went begrudgingly into the twentieth century. Yes, we have a history of racism...say it three times like you mean it. This history isn't something that is easily forgotten by African-Americans. Many white folks in New Orleans would like to put it behind us, but you must remember that we are not even one full generation away from the 1950's and Landrieu's integration landmarks. There are many folks who lived the day to day existence of New Orleans during and white....we have some very deep wounds and we still have a long way to go before they heal.

Moon Landrieu's efforts to integrate City Hall have not been forgotten by Louisiana's black constituency. Mitch and Mary Landrieu still receive widespread African-American support, statewide as well as locally, even when running against African-American candidates as was demonstrated in our last mayoral election. Nagin did pull the majority of the city's Black voters, but Mitch L. pulled a respectable number himself.

Of course, Moon's efforts have also not been forgotten by hum...."traditional" white voters....more recently dubbed, "Couhig Conservatives". They have never forgiven Moon for "opening the doors of City Hall to those negroes." Resent being a highly esteemed art form in this city, the CC's took it to a new level in our last mayoral election and decided to vote for the African-American over the white candidate because the white candidate's family was pro-African-American.

That makes perfect sense.....after you've had about 6 martinis on a Friday afternoon at Galitoire's.

They even found a rational way to justify it by saying Nagin was "pro-business". You laugh now but rembember, at the time Tom Delay is what defined "pro-business" in I guess they were looking at a different definition of business in 06.

Here we are in 08. I think we can safely say that Nagin is indeed not pro-business in the sense that he's attracted it to the city, or for that matter, maintained what we had. But if you consider the amount of cash he's funneled in no-bid contracts to a small group of white, diehard republicans...then yeah...I'm sure those guys think he's a great businessman.

Thanks to Karen Gadbois and Lee Zurik, Nagin's administration and NOAH are currently under federal investigation. What concerns me is that it appears NOAH and most of their sub-contractors are African-American. Of the federal investigations into local government we've seen in the last few seems to me those indicted have been overwhelmingly African-American, i.e. Jefferson, Thomas, Brooks-Simms, Sheppard, etc. I can only think of one white, Orleans Parish politico who has even been investigated since the storm....Una Anderson...and she wasn't indicted. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.

What I'm getting at is it concerns me that of all the dubious things which the Fed could have looked into in the Nagin administration (most notably the MIS budget)...they chose NOAH first. I'm not saying I personally believe the Fed is racially motivated....but I am saying I can certainly understand why some people do. I would like to think the investigation was sparked by the overwhelming media attention the story attracted, but then it makes me wonder if the local U.S. Attorney's office and F.B.I. are only taking a reactive role in ferreting out local corruption instead of a proactive role....I find that hard to believe. I also find it as hard to believe that those raping and pillaging our city coffers are exclusively African-American....I not only find it hard to believe, I know it isn't true.

So why the cherry picking?

I don't know the answer myself....I"m just pontificating. I humbly await your response.

In the meantime.....I got stupid with Photoshop again. It's kind of fun to try and visually interpret your post.


Mark Folse said...

Did you catch Bayou St. John's question on Moldy City, wondering when the SCLC was going to protest Richard's lower price for white Jefferson Parish for garbage collection?


With the way the wheels are coming off over Noah, they don't have many cards left in their hand to play.

I can't wait until your emailer stumbles into my last Nagin post. I'll be lucky go get away with a nasty email instead of, oh, a headless dead cat on the porch.

Anonymous said...

The investigations into NOAH would have never happened without the Media pressure.

With NOAH there were and are actual aggrieved parties, making it much easier to instigate an investigation and much harder to ignore.

I think the issue is not what motivates the FEDs but how long will they turn a blind eye to all the other little disasters.

Anonymous said...

there is a small group of related high-power uptown individuals/officials funnelling at least tens of millions amongst themselves in the charter schools /facilities plan shenanigans. it is all at the sectretary of state database if the feds or anyone else wants to check.

guess what they are white.

Anonymous said...

"Note also that the Pastorek plans to remove most black schools from the uptown white “sliver on the river” on the argument they don’t want to place schools in neighborhoods where people primarily use private schools. No more black kids walking through white neighborhoods or waiting on the bus. He wants to demolish Craig Elementary, Bauduit, Arthur Ashe, New Orleans Free Academy. Only one open-admission school uptown between the St. Charles and the River. "

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the people's penthouse:

None of what this couple professes goes along with supporting a mayor who let NOAH happen.

God doesn't give color a pass, whatever color it is. And whatever god you believe in - even the god of money - that is still true.

Kevin Allman said...

Just a note: I've got keys to the Gambit blog and I will GLADLY run a pro-Nagin essay by a New Orleans blogger as long as it's original and not a press release.

I've looked for pro-Nagin blogs so I can invite the authors to contribute. I can't find any.

Anyone: get in touch with me.

bayoustjohndavid said...

Thanks for the compliment, Mark. Dambala, I think that you and I were the first in the blogosphere to call Nagin a crook -- at least the first two to make a major issue of it. I bring that I up because I started to hate him in late 2005 when I saw that it was obvious that he wasn't making any effort to put the city's limited money where it would do the most good. When most critics said that he was trying but wasn't up to the job*, I asked, "how the f*** can you say he's trying?" But, even I didn't start calling him a crook until he started throwing stones. Hell, haven't his supporters ever heard the one about people who live in glass houses. How is it racist to subject a man to his own smell test? Throw in the needless secrecy where public money is and any reasonable person would be suspicious.

There certainly is a lot to look into with the RSD, but I doubt they'll make it as easy as the mayor. I'm surprised that nobody's done a post about Julie Quinn making it harder to look into private companies that do government business. I've been meaning to, but haven't gotten around to it. But it's always going to be easier to get information on public officials than the crooks behind them.

Like I've said before, I don't think the Justice Department had any interest in investigating Nagin because that would involve investigating Katrina reconstruction contracts. Why would they possibly want to open that can of worms? NOAH got too much attention to ignore and it doesn't involve any national firms.

*It might be hard to remember, but the main criticisms before the election involved incompetence and tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. Mixed in with the second was discussion of whether he was intentionally playing politics, but the first was almost always preceded with the caveat that he was trying.

Jason Brad Berry said...

- NOAH got too much attention to ignore and it doesn't involve any national firms.

That's a damn good point which i had not considered....damn good.

You're right, all these companies that were marching before the grand jury today were small time, local companies....not a publicly traded HSOA.

Great observation

Jason Brad Berry said...


I'll make you a promise...if you get whacked, I will go
Rambo on your attackers. You make the same for me....but they then they can't kill a zombie can they.