Transparent As Chocolate

Feb 18, 2009 by

According to New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin, he has the most transparent administration in the history of the city.

Well, what’s one more piece of bullshit from the master of claptrap?

It turns out that since January, WWL TV’s Lee Zurich has been waiting for a response form the Mayor’s office regarding a public records request of Nagin’s e-mail amd schedule from 2008. A similar request was complied with last year and you may remember how Hizzoner got all bent up about accusations that he was rarely in town or even in his office. To date, WWL has received 15 of Nagin’s e-mails from last year. That’s out of the 50-100 e-mails per day which he sends. Unfortunately, that’s all they’re probably going to get.

You see, all of Ray-Ray’s e-mails prior to June 30th, 2008, have been deleted. As well as his 2008 schedule. Oops!

The Mayor’s office has, by law, three days to comply with public records requests. So far, it’s been a month and a half. In fact, this has turned into an actual court case, held yesterday in OP Civil Court. Judge Rose Ledet ordered a search of city computers to find the missing items by the end of today. She also admonished City Attorney Ed Washington and the Nagin Administration.

In response to the PRR, WWL was sent hundreds of e-mails written by Nagin’s Communications Director Ceeon Quiett, which they did not ask for. Both Quiett and Nagin say that they were under the impression that backups of all e-mails are kept, but it turns out that that is not the case. By law, all public records must be kept for three years after date of creation, but the Nagin Administration deleted the files because, according to Washington, the city’s computer network lacks the “server space to preserve more than a few days” of e-mail. Asked why the city has failed to turn over Mayoral correspondence from August through December, Washington simply replied, “We’re working on that.”

Judge Ledet has ordered the city to pay damages to WWL, $1500 so far for business related expenses such as overtime, and the cost may even include attorney’s fees. WWL however has opted to make the damages symbolic in light of the city’s financial difficulties.

It gets even better.

In today’s Times-Picayune, buried within the Sports section, Nagin published a proposal to disband the city contract committees which he created in 2005. Nagin’s ad states, “Since the selection review panels created to promote transparency have become the source of the council’s attempt to exercise authority over the executive branch, it is the best interest of the city’s recovery efforts to temporarily suspend . . . the panels until resolution of this matter…” This will essentially give Ray-Ray the power to award all city contracts to whomever he chooses from behind closed doors. It is in direct response to the recent City Council vote to make all contract meetings public. The hearing is today at noon at City Hall. I urge anyone who can make it to attend. Unfortunately, I cannot. Without action, this order will become law in seven days.

God help us all.

-M. Styorski

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