Decisions, Decisions

Sep 2, 2010 by

Folks, it took me this long to recover from drinking five beers in honor of the Rising Tide conference’s fifth year, screaming in the ear of the celebrity chef with whom we’d packed emergency food boxes with at Second Harvest earlier in the day when the Saints scored big against the Chargers, and frantically trying to liveblog at the Rising Tide blog while helping out some at the registration tables with intrepid fellow badass mamas Val McG and Sophmom. Capping it off with a celebratory shot of tequila after the event and a meaningful chat with podner in Humid-ity MonkeyBoy among many, many others at the Half Moon was just the icing on the cake. However, one thing kept nagging at me through most of this week’s lolling about in recovery from the weekend – aside from the sneaking suspicion that I might be too old to have five beers in one sitting –

Leave it to Rising Tide’s politics panel to get me thinking about what constitutes proper journalism in an idealized sense versus what we’ve got now.

You see, ideally, the need for the public to know stuff about where its money is going would be news one could use. Especially now, when students are protesting the state’s evisceration of education (and if they get much more organized, watch out), state health care cuts are doing their damage as well, and nationally, we are doing our damnedest to extricate ourselves from the financial tsunami the overseas wars, the mis-managers of Wall Street and the fiascoes of subprime mortgages have brought to our lives.

Well, folks such as the ones running The Gambit and the Times-Picayune don’t see that as news – at least, not in Congressional candidate Cedric Richmond’s case. Jason Berry, aka, Ashe Dambala of The American Zombie, went public with the paperwork he’d been poring over in the name of getting a mainstream media story out there concerning the grant-obtaining antics of Richmond and some associates of his that read like “Dollar Bill” Jefferson II – The Cedric Chronicles. Richmond and his associates doubled up on 501 (c)3s from the same address and, among the millions they got from grants, got hold of $60,000 that were supposedly for office renovations – something that is against the requirements for use of an LSED grant. Dambala also says that sources have told him that some of those grant dollars went right into the purchase of a diamond bezel for Richmond’s stylin’ Rolex.

Clancy Dubos educated the RT audience some by saying that the way that surplus money gained through the passing in the ’70’s of the hotel-motel tax meant to finance the building of the Superdome created a system by which local legislators could get access to that surplus (i.e., the LSED grants), and Richmond’s shenanigans simply show that that system is still being abused. To Dubos’ mind, this is old news, with the only smoking gun being Cedric’s bling.

Show of hands: how many people knew this history about the LSED grants? Yeah, my hand would’ve been down too ’til this past Saturday.

There’s got to be more to why no one has the cojones/steel ovaries to call Richmond out on this despite its being “old news”. The possible lack of strong constitutions on the liberal side of the state’s organized political parties might also be another reason. Really, who did the Democratic Party in this city/state have to replace Richmond if he were to come up lame in their primary? Why does the Dems’ strategy now have to rest on the GOP’s and other opponents’ flogging of Dambala’s findings so that, in response, they can puff themselves up and look like the tough guys standing by their man, no matter what else he might have done wrong? Sure, it might be as simple as “Yeah, he may be a sneaky loophole-exploiting schmo, but once we get him to Congress, he’ll be working those shady schmo talents for the district.” It also speaks volumes about how screwed up party politics are in this state….and about how willing the MSM is to go with their flow.

In an ideal world, I would know all of this stuff Clancy and Dambala talked about and debated over without having to turn on my computer or pay $20 to attend the Rising Tide conference – because it would be in the news source that appears on my doorstep each morning, something that is still the least expensive way to get hold of the latest doings. But it’s not there…

…and it’s not because, as some might say, the Internet is killing journalism. Last Saturday, journalism proved that it keeps making the decision to turn the knife on itself. And in the process, many, many other aspects of our lives go straight to hell as well.


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