Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mayor Defiant

From the belly of the beast:


"Today's veto override had little to no effect. In fact, it brought us
back to December 1. It did not improve the financial conditions of the

"We still intend to implement the cuts I announced last week. The Mayor
still holds the checkbook and signs all contracts and CEAs. No third
party will receive any funds unless they are approved by the Mayor.

"There also is a new reality today as a result of the Council's proposed
deeper cuts. These cuts will definitely have a severely negative impact
on residents throughout the city. I believe all citizens deserve
adequate services based upon available resources. It is unfair to
sacrifice the basic services of most citizens while providing enhanced
or extra services to one segment of the city.

"Also, with these deep cuts and the inability to finalize the budget
until sometime in January, we will not be able to encumber service
contracts on January 1, which could further impact our ability to
provide needed services.

"Finally, the City Council's cuts to the budgets for fleet purchases and
fuel have the potential to negatively impact public safety. With those
cuts, we would be unable to replace vehicles in the police department
and other public safety agencies. There also would be insufficient fuel
to supply public safety vehicles for the year."

C. Ray Nagin


The Mayor has decided to take an extremely defiant stance. It's one thing to communicate your intention to be flexible with executive spending in order to navigate the larger economic climate, but he's not doing that.

Instead, the Mayor is doing three things:

1. Asserting his authority.

I think he's a little bit over the top in his tone, as stated above.

2. Fortifying a communications posture

By claiming that Council's budget seeks to impose "deep cuts" on services, the Mayor is attempting to make his budget, the one that imposes a citywide 2.5% budget cut and deprives the public defender and district attorney, the budget of social justice. Council gave him a millimeter of room to make this argument because they've advocated for the restoration of full French Quarter sanitation services. This allows him to make some sort of populist appeal about rich people getting lemon scent sprayed upon them. The problem here is that I'm not sure that Council made any kind of recommendation that the Mayor fully execute the SDT contract at the expense of anything else. I think it is pretty clear that the Mayor's budget makes painful cuts across the board to every section of this city, whereas the Council budget attempts to eliminate those cuts. Plus it's not like people give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt on anything, so I'm not sure what the intention here is.

If I were on the Mayor's communications team, this whole thing would be couched as something that needed to be done because of the financial crisis. He might be able to get away with a reasoned argument centered on that theme. But the Mayor seems to have given up on presenting reasoned arguments a long time ago.

3. Doubling down on corruption and waste

In the last section of this release, the Mayor clings to his posture that New Orleans needs a bloated city car fleet for "public safety." This argument seems especially ridiculous in the same press release in which he refuses money to the DA and the office of the public defender. If he's attempting to claim that the car fleet cuts would touch the NOPD, I believe he's mistaken. The Inspector General audit on which these cuts were based did not examine the NOPD. The office of the Mayor alone has 73 take home cars (it might actually be 74). Each City Councilor has their own take home car. Veronica White has her own take home car. So does Brenda Hatfield. So does Ed Blakely. And Ceeon Quiett. And a lot of them are big huge SUVs. These people can afford their own cars and our auto industry could use some business.

It is blatant waste.
Just fix it.


Mark Folse said...

More like Mayor Psycho, writing of himself in a Louis Quatorze Third Person In Capitals fashion, and asserting he will pull police cars off the street rather than rein in the ridiculous city car policy.

He is so far off the deep end I think the Council serious needs to consider if there is any basis in the Charter for removal from office because of mental incompetence.

Mark Folse said...

Section 4-205. Suspension and Removal.

The Mayor shall be subject to suspension or removal from office only in the following manner and for the following reasons:

(1) (a) In the event that a Mayor is afflicted with a mental or physical condition that renders the Mayor temporarily or permanently unable to discharge the powers and duties of office, the Chief Administrative Officer, the City Attorney, the Director of the Department of Health or a physician designated by the Director of that Department or its successor, and a physician appointed by the deans of the Louisiana State University Medical School and the Tulane University Medical School shall so certify by unanimous written declaration before a Notary Public and shall promptly deliver their declaration to the Clerk of Council. If the declaration certifies that the Mayor is temporarily incapable of performing the duties of office, the Council shall be required to vote on the matter within seven days from delivery of the declaration; upon rendering an affirmative vote of two-thirds of its entire membership, the Council shall declare the office temporarily vacant due to the incapacity of the incumbent...

mominem said...

It's true the charter does not require the Mayor to spend the money appropriated. The council should cut the budget for the Mayors office, staring with the non-Communication office.

I kind of hope this develops into a full confrontation between two co-equal branches of government.

Puddinhead said...

No way we can set him up with a stripper from the Sho-Bar, huh?

mominem said...

Maybe someone could share Ed Blakeley's car when he's not here.

Puddinhead said...

As far as a full-blown confrontation is concerned...having spoken to my own Councilperson (Hedge-Morrell) a couple of times in the past few months (albeit briefly) it seems to me that she's "this close" to being nudged over onto the Head/Midura side of things. Not that she's on Nagin's side now, but I think she seems to feel a need (considering her constituency) to not seem too much on the "wrong side" of those issues that Nagin attempts to make racial issues. Which is essentially all of them. But I'm sensing that she sort of feels that given enough rope Nagin will go so ridiculously overboard in painting a clearly non-racial issue as one of "The Man oppressing the people" that the African American voters in her district will clearly see it for the farce that it is...and that's the issue she can line up with the other Council members (less Cynthia Willard-Lewis) to give Ray-Ray the slap down he's been asking for.

E said...

Every time I see Blakely he's on a bike anyway.

mominem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mominem said...

I fear the car thing could turn racial at any minute.

Frolic said...

I did see Blakely on Magazine Street this week. He was walking to his city car with a coffee in his hand.

It was clearly marked. It was also a really crappy car. I'm surprised the man didn't demand better.

bayoustjohndavid said...

You're right about the number of cars: WWL reported 74, the T/P 73. I haven't had a chance to read the report.

So, does anybody other than mominem and me ever bring up the propaganda budget? I know it's only $1.2M, but that's a 20% increase in a year that the mayor's pretending to be the fiscally responsible person in the budget dispute. It also comes after a year in which the office has performed abysmally. And, it's also a way to punish the mayor without city services suffering -- it's the mayor's "communication" office.

Has the cost of the French Quarter street sweeping even been reported? That's strikes me as a case of a politician looking to cut a service that everybody will notice and most people want, rather than looking for ways to save money. There's also the political calculation that somebosy mentioned.