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Justice in New Orleans
Big Easy Blues: Ex-Mayor Exposed as Corruptocrat

Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans from 2002-10 and the face of the Big Easy’s post-Katrina recovery, has been found guilty on twenty counts of corruption. The astonishing list of charges is viewable at the Times-Picayune. Conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and tax fraud round out the convictions for the most corrupt Mayor in the history of New Orleans (and that’s saying something). The New York Times has the gory details:

With multiple witnesses and an extensive paper trial, federal prosecutors described a sequence of transactions between the mayor and various business interests, all following a similar pattern. The owner of a company would be trying to get city work, and would at some point make contact with Mr. Nagin. Mr. Nagin would ask for a favor, often in the form of payments to the granite countertop business Mr. Nagin ran with his two sons.

Sometimes the perk for Mr. Nagin would be less direct than cash — a trip to Jamaica or Hawaii or Chicago, free cell service for his family or shipments of valuable granite slabs. But around the same time that Mr. Nagin received money or something else of value, the businessman would be awarded contracts for city projects, or would find that certain municipal obstacles had gone away.

In all, prosecutors said Mr. Nagin received more than half a million dollars in illicit benefits, while the contractors found themselves with millions of dollars’ worth of city work.

The MSM will put another face on this conviction, but there should be no mistaking what really happened here: New Orleans was the victim of an urban crime family masquerading as a political machine. The parallels with Detroit and its own shameless crook of an ex-Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, are striking. The fortunes made from collusion with crooks and fraudsters, all behind a thin veil of Democratic governance, must resonate with the people of Detroit.

As in Detroit, this case should give us a lesson in the necessity of not confusing corruptocracies with political machines. The Nagin conviction shows that Detroit wasn’t the only one. Corrupt urban machines are a serious threat to our cities, far greater than fashionable “threats” like gentrification or a new Walmart.

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  • rheddles

    Glad you didn’t mention his party. Keep that MSM potential.

    • bigfire

      Party affilation is mentioned in the second paragraph. Albeit, New Orlean is a different state of mind than the rest of America.

      • rheddles

        “Democratic governance” refers to Detroit directly and at best indirectly to Nagin only amongst the informed, which includes most of the readers here. Nonetheless, Nagin is not identified as a Democrat in keeping with standard Journolist practice.

  • Tom

    Also, let’s not forget that Mr. Nagin was also one of the key players in ensuring that Katrina was such a major catastrophe.

  • Jim__L

    Wait, wait, no, all of New Orleans’ problems were Bush’s fault!

  • TommyTwo

    “The astonishing list of charges”

    If only.

    By the way, if by their fruits ye shall know them, just which is the racist party?

  • foobarista

    Dubya called: he’d like his second term back. Oh, and maybe we can have a do-over of the 2006 and 2008 elections? This Nagin guy wasn’t only a local crook, but was a classic “right place at the right time” person to really mess up history. If Katrina doesn’t end up being a locally-originated clusterfark that the MSM blames on Bush, the Dems probably don’t sweep in 06 and we may end up with a non-doofus on the Republican ticket in 08. Oh, and maybe 1000+ people end up evacuated instead of dead? And possibly things in Iraq don’t go so badly as someone negotiates a SoF, Syria isn’t a mess, etc.

    Maybe there’s an alt-history book in there somewhere…

  • Corlyss

    This is not news. It’s a required characteristic for NO mayors.

    • RAS743

      Actually, New Orleans had some pretty decent mayors back in
      the day, even though they were Democrats. Yes, of course, corruption has
      existed in the mayor’s office there before, but the city was fortunate to have
      two “good government” mayors, in the ’50s and ’70s, DeLesseps
      Morrison and Maurice “Moon” Landrieu. Morrison was U.S. Ambassador to
      the OAS at the time of his death in a plane crash in 1964. Landrieu served two terms in office, brought blacks into the political mainstream and later became Carter’s HUD Secretary. And I’d be the last person to say Ernest
      “Dutch” Morial (1980s) was politically clean, but he was a highly
      capable man who did good things for the city. (His son, Mark, who presided in the ’90s, was another matter.)

      Having said all this, I say Nagin got what he deserved. They should give him a sentence that will keep him in prison until he dies.

      New Orleans is unique among American
      cities for its history and lifestyle. Outsiders who move there either hate it and leave
      quickly, or love it and stay forever. It has much to recommend it. But it can
      never be a great city, providing opportunity for all, until blacks and whites reconcile. The racial polarization there is as bad as anywhere in
      the country, as is the violent crime.

  • free_agent

    The really depressing thing about Detroit is that Kilpatrick’s thieveries weren’t the major cause of Detroit’s financial disaster. If Kilpatrick had been genuinely skilled at managing Detroit, his thieveries would have been tolerable.

  • Tom Servo

    I have family in New Orleans, Ivisit there a lot. When I ask them (or anyone else there) “Now, please be honest. Wasn’t Katrina actually the best thing to ever happen to this city?” They look around carefully, give a shy smile, and if they say anything at all, just say “shhh! You know that no one is supposed to say that.” Then they laugh.

    New Orleans is doing GREAT today, btw.

    • Corlyss

      NO has always struck me as a Land of Lotus Eaters with many characteristics in common with Ca. i.e., residents always looking for someone else to take care of them. I actually cheered for all the blacks that were able to be relocated to other states where they might get a good start to self-reliance away from NO’s innervating spell. I thought “At last! They can make for themselves decent lives not dependent on old traditions and “can’t dos.”

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