Tuesday, March 03, 2009


So much is happening in the world of municipal politics this week it's hard to keep track of it all.

We've got HANO whistle blowers coming forward in advance of new HUD chief Shaun Donovan's visit.

New DHS Chief Janet Napolitano also comes to town for the first time this week as new allegations swirl around the New Orleans FEMA office.

The Office of the Inspector General has released its report on the perpetually wasteful crime camera program and criminal prosecutions seem likely.

Then there is this email clusterf#ck.

WWL has been suing the city for access to public records that the Office of Technology says were deleted, while simultaneously our old friend Sanitation Director Veronica White was somehow granted access to the City Council's email archives, which she promptly turned over (without checking for privileged material potentially related to ongoing lawsuits against the city or FBI investigations) to civil rights attorney Tracie Washington. City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields claims to have been unaware of this until last week, after the emails had been delivered to Washington.

White is on vacation somewhere.

Talk about inside baseball! There are many layers to this onion.

And these last few items, as Oyster says, are probably related.

Helluva week, huh?

Please submit your theories as to how the email kerfuffle went down. What do you think happens next? Do you believe that Moses-Fields didn't know? Is Veronica White going to be held accountable? Or do they circle the wagons once again? What's the most sensitive item hidden in those emails? I know I'd love to take a look for myself.

Transparency, right?


I know Tracie Washington is probably going to take some heat for only requesting emails from the white members of City Council. But let's put this in context. Only three Councilors actually answer emails anyway. So the real question is what the hell she possibly hoped to get out of Jackie Clarkson's virgin email account. Jackie has always struck me as a rotary phone kind of gal.


Civitch said...

I disagree that only three councilpeople's email will contain anythig of interest.

Only three councilpeople respond to emails from general constituents. That doesn't mean that the accounts of the other four aren't (also?) chock full of messages to and from political supporters, city contractors, city employees, other council members, Ray Nagin, and god knows who else.

Regardless, none of them should have been released without going through the proper channels.

But the bigger question is, who is really behind this? And what is his/her/their end game? And most disturbingly, does the release of only white council members' email signify an intent to further polarize the city along racial lines?

Anonymous said...

Well, we want tranparency with the Mayor, including right down to the details of who he personally dines with, but we don't want it with the council? Is that not a double standard? Will that not make blacks beleive that the "transparency" people are really looking to monitor black officials only and not whites (that's a rhetorical question--of course it makes Lee Zurick look like he's singling out the Mayor). Why are all the good government activists not clamoring for the IG to investigate Jackie Clarkson's claim that someone attempted to bribe her? Or how about a request for Cerasoli's email to see if he had a fair agenda (he was always willing to pander to the uptown crowd)

This is all about the garbage contracts and that's why White released the emails--to get back at the white council members who insulted her--and that's probably why the request was for those white council members who have been charging corruption. There is tons of stuff in those emails that the council does not want released and my guess is that we will never see them or get a redacted version that omits Stacy Head's rants (and yes, there are thousands of emails and they are probably between council members and staff, so it's important).

But the white response proves that for most whites, "transparency" isn't really about seeing through government, it's about seeing what black officials are doing. That's why no one was demanding transparency when Nagin was controlled by Rex and Comus 2002-2005. As long as he was busting black cab drivers and handing out plumb appointments to rich white men like James Reiss, white folks were content.

I'm for total transparency at all levels, which we will probably not get as long as we have a double standard that makes it appear that it's all about race and not democracy.

Red said...

"what the hell she possibly hoped to get out of Jackie Clarkson's virgin email account. Jackie has always struck me as a rotary phone kind of gal."

Whoo... That first post-caffeinated laugh of the morning is always rough at first, then pleasurable. Thanks for that package wrapping, E:)

And you know Jackie is walking around this morning with her red power blazer waving her monte blanc pen telling everyone on the second floor, "I've always said, give me this and a telephone over the computer any day. Once again, Momma's been proven right"

jeffrey said...

What Anon said... almost verbatim.

Personally, I can't wait to get a look at Head's emails. All of this dragonslaying-ish posturing on the part of the white Councilmembers does need to be dialed back a bit. I think the email release is a good thing.

Clifton said...

Anonymous may have a point but Veronica White is a rogue employee now and is destroying the reputation of everyone in that building. Being insulted is no reason to break protocol especially if the reason your insulted is that someone questioning your job performance.

The best way to get back at people who insult you is to do the opposite of what they expect you to do.

G Bitch said...

Right on, Cliff. Feeling wronged is no excuse to do whatever the hell you want. White, Nagin, Head, Midura et al are supposed to be government officials, not toddlers fighting over ice cream and calling each other poopyface. White had no right to request, gather or release emails that aren't hers no matter who she thinks dissed her. If she's concerned about transparency, she should release her own emails. But it's not about that, is it?

Elected officials should be scrutinized regardless of race because they are in the public sector and using or distributing public money. If you don't want people in your business, stay out of politics, stay out of the paper, and hide your ass somewhere safe. Does anyone at all in NO know basic civics?!

jeffrey said...

Maybe. But I think the "insults" are politically motivated in a way that ultimately works to the detriment of progress in this city.

What has been masquerading as "anti-corruption reform" these past few years is really just serving the interests of the "Rex and Comus" crowd who have... for years prior to the flood... wished for this city to become the sleepy Boutique and B&B village you see trying to spring up all around you.

I'm, of course, not saying that the Nagin people aren't to blame either. As Anon points out, Nagin was on that side up until the flood when they thought they could replace him with Ron Forman. Now he's just looking to capitalize on the spoils of demolishing what remains of a post-industrial, post-disaster metropolis.

You're basically watching a racially-based squabble for political primacy between two factions who have zero interest in building a viable city that works for all of its citizens.

The aristocrats are up to no good. The kleptocrats are also up to no good. But at least we know what they are. If you're really looking to blame someone for the loss of a city, blame all the Dragonslayers and they Yuppie Lefties who waste their time enabling this false fight while the world sinks away around us.

bayoustjohndavid said...

Submit your theories? Brenda Hatfield explained it perfectly -- overenthusiasm in the turning over of public records.

Anonymous said...

I like this Jeffrey guy.

Not to wax pragmatic, but the question is how do we get out of this mess? What causes distrust and what heals it? To be frank, I think we will have to settle the power question first: does the black majority get their city back in 2010? I know that's going to send some of you ballistic, but this is not Vermont: New Orleans is old south town founded on white supremacy and for generations it turned Norther immigrants into bulwarks of racism. Why should we be immune to a process of socialization that worked for decades? I read on the blogs all the time people who essentially are saying that if black government is corrupt, we should not have democracy. Let the "blue ribbon" (with white faces)panels run the rebuilding plans, the schools, the courts, etc. That's certainly the argument around education.

Why was it so easy for white liberals to abandon their democratic principles when it came to black governance? And again, this is not Vermont: too many blacks remember what it felt like to live under segregation in New Orleans to willingly hand over power to white people. Like it or not, that's the political reality. Only a generation ago the white Citizen's Council ran the city--and it's their spawn who are the shadow government today. Hail Rex and Comatose.

We're back to 1978 when Dutch took power. It took years for whites to accept that they were the minority. But once that was clear, they began to have leverage rather than waste it on a great white hopes (Ron Facheaux sp., Donny Mintz, etc.) This time around let's skip the 10 year lag time and build coalitons based on reality.