Thursday, November 13, 2008

C. Ray Nagin Throws the Red Challenge Flag

And like Andy Reid, he'll lose a timeout.

The Mayor has an opinion about what happened at City Council. He sent an email to every member of City Council. WDSU kindly reprinted the whole thing:

It is my understanding that a council member verbally abused the City sanitation department head, used profanity, and boldly proclaimed very crude race-baiting remarks during a public meeting.

What? At what point did Stacy Head use profanity? Did she race-bait?

Let's review an actual tape of the confrontation. Go ahead and invest the two minutes and twenty six seconds it takes to ascertain what actually happened.

Seems to me that Stacy Head caught Veronica White in a lie and then expressed her displeasure with Ms. White's repeated stonewalling of information requests. Then Stacy Head moved on to ask another question, which Ms. White refused to answer. Then Councilwoman Head said that Ms. White was not being truthful. Then Ms. White got belligerent and stormed out of the room.

For the sake of comparison, watch that video of the confrontation between Stacy Head and Veronica White and then watch this one. Even Bush administration officials are more graceful in stonewalling inquiries from Congress, many of which are far more strident than what occurred here.

So did Ray Nagin even see what happened?

The answer is no.

From the transcript:

I have not reviewed the full tape yet, but it has been reported that the employee was publicly chastised, threatened, belittled, and carelessly accused of being a liar in spite of any clear facts being presented. I am formally requesting a copy of the videotape from this meeting and a formal investigation to include obtaining statements from all witnesses immediately.

And thank God he's formally requesting a tape. He could just watch it on TV or online like everybody else. But it's clearly better to go through an administrative process that will take as much time as possible. He shouldn't actually just look at the video, he should wait as long as possible so that Jackie Clarkson backs down and the issue goes away.

And while we're at it, why don't you encourage Veronica White's response to questioning from all of your department heads:

This type of behavior must stop immediately as I am instructing all department heads that if they are verbally assaulted or personally insulted at a council meeting that they should immediately leave. Tough questioning is generally appropriate. Personal attacks are just not acceptable. I also believe that professional rules for council members should be updated and enforced at all times.

When the questions get tough, it's much better to 'immediately leave' than to incriminate yourself by providing answers.

So what is Mayor Nagin's play here? He writes an email accusing Stacy Head of race-baiting and expects that this will put her on the defensive and totally obscure the waste he seems to encourage from his department heads. Is that it? Is it that easy?

Or is he just hoping that Council President Jackie Clarkson forgets what she saw?

Either way, I think Nagin is overplaying his hand. First of all, everyone in this city and around the country knows that Ray Nagin is a sell-out of elephantine proportions. His recovery ideology prioritizes the fantasies of the business community. He won't raise the minimum wage because of his ridiculous delusion that po-boy shop workers are making $60k a year. He's a national laughingstock and Democratic party leaders do somersaults to avoid being pictured near him.

Meanwhile, if there's one thing Jackie Clarkson values, and I don't say many nice things about Jackie Clarkson, but if there's one thing she cares about, it's 'playing nice.' She might cave on issues but she certainly knows when someone owes and apology to someone else. She was there when all this went down and she was decisive in diagnosing Veronica White's behavior as wildly inappropriate. I don't think Ray Nagin's instant replay can convince her otherwise.

Apparently, Veronica White is filing a complaint with the EEOC.

Best of luck to her.


Councilwoman Head calls Nagin's accusations reckless and groundless.

She does well to draw parallels between her attempts to question Veronica White about the city's sanitation contracts to some of the Nagin administrations other reactionary responses to basic due diligence inquiry:

"Regularly, the Mayor becomes incensed when the Council exercises its charter oversight authority," Head wrote, adding that the mayor got similarly bent out of shape when his administration's oversight of the NOAH home-gutting program was questioned.

"This is no different than his defensive posture during the NOAH investigation," Head wrote. "Instead of looking into credible information that the NOAH program was fraught with problems, he challenged the Council and the media that we were off base."


GentillyGirl said...

Veronica White will lose her complaint. She, like many in City hall, think that all they have to do is scream and they've got a lawsuit.

Good piece Darlin'.

E said...

Thanks GG. You going to the Prop 8 protest Saturday?

Anonymous said...

this whole dynaic describes a peculiar situation we have here which is tough. that is, when someone is pressing for accountability, the person being pressed and their defenders take it to a personal level and say they were personally insulted. it is diversion from the actual issues, and the tactic is used on both sides of class & racial strife.

Anonymous said...

Someone told me that Veronica White is Selethe Nagin's cousin... while probably not illegal, this could partially explain his knee-jerk emotional responses?