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All Over for New Orleans Mayor Nagin

Monday, 17 February 2014 06:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

According to legend, the Roman Emperor Nero “fiddled while Rome burned.” It refers to his heedless and irresponsible behavior in the midst of a crisis.

So it can be said of former New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin.

He was recently convicted on 20 of 21 counts including wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering conspiracy and filing false tax returns and is facing up to 20 years in prison. He is under house arrest until sentencing in June.

Nagin’s corruption existed before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 and continued through the storm recovery into his second term.

So what’s the big deal?

Lest we forget, this is the same Ray Nagin who was so self-righteous and pompous while Hurricane Katrina was devastating his city, especially poor black neighborhoods, in August of 2005.

During those fateful days and for weeks and years thereafter, it could be said that, like Nero, Nagin exhibited heedless and irresponsible behavior in the midst of his city’s crisis. His fiddle — greed!

He negligently delayed evacuation until it was too late causing the death of hundreds of people left to drown in flooding waters in the streets and their homes.

Meanwhile, photos and videos in national media showed New Orleans school buses, which could have been used to evacuate thousands of stranded people, sitting in flooded school parking lots.

When asked why the buses were not used to assist evacuations instead of sending people to the Superdome without food or water, Nagin made excuses. He, and others, took every opportunity to blame President George W. Bush and racism for the federal government’s lack of an immediate response.

Rapper Kanye West, whose initial response on a Katrina relief telethon was that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” later apologized saying that “in my moment of frustration, I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist." However, others, including Nagin, did not take back their charges of racism — it was all Bush’s fault.

Even after leaving office Nagin said that "race and class and politics played in just about every aspect of this disaster."

If Nagin had been as adept at taking care of his constituents in the disaster and after as he was in lining his pockets, who knows how many of the estimated 1,500-1,800 dead could have been saved and the city’s recovery hastened?

The evidence showed that Nagin was a corrupt public official who doled out contracts in exchange for money and personal favors — including family cell phones, free granite for his family's kitchen countertop business, limousines, and trips to Hawaii, Jamaica, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas.

While blaming others for the failings during Katrina and filling his pockets during his second term, he was brazen enough write a book in which he again blamed Bush for the slow federal response.

An Investor’s Business Daily editorial aptly stated: “On Nagin's watch, public funding was spent on Mardi Gras parties, marinas, and gambling operations instead of levee maintenance… Instead of building up the levees, he was building up his own personal fortunes.”

When it came time for re-election, Nagin went back to the favorite tool of many black and white liberal politicians — the race card.

He said that New Orleans would always be “chocolate.” He even got Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to lead an effort to get displaced black New Orleans voters in Houston, Baton Rouge, and Atlanta back to vote.

He won 80 percent of the black vote!

They got nothing in return. Instead of helping them he helped himself — or so he thought.

Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.

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New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin was recently convicted on 20 of 21 counts including wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering conspiracy and filing false tax returns and is facing up to 20 years in prison.
Monday, 17 February 2014 06:36 AM
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