The Big [Not-So] Easy: Nagin Convicted on 20 Out of 21 Counts

225px-Nagin2June2006PrisonCellEven as a former resident of New Orleans who truly loves the city, I have been a long critic of Nagin who I met a number of times through the years. I was mystified and irritated by the failure of the voters to toss out Nagin from office after his shameful performance during the Katrina disaster. Nagin was widely ridiculed for his virtual absence during the disaster as he stayed in his hotel room overlooking the city. Moreover, the national media fawned over the young, handsome mayor even as he made unhinged comments and pranced around like a prima donna. In the meantime, Nagin set out to profit from the disaster both politically and personally. Nevertheless, the voters of New Orleans reelected one of the worst mayors in the country as they sought federal funding for disaster relief. He is now a convicted belong after a jury found him guilty on 20 of 21 federal corruption counts, including bribery. It is one of the least surprising legal stories of the decade. His conviction should cause some in the Democratic party, in the media, and particularly among the voters of New Orleans to consider their own complicity in enabling this corrupt, narcissistic politician.

The 57-year-old former mayor was found guilty of accepting bribes in a variety of forms as contractors fought over the federal largess pouring into the city. These include outright bribes as well as expensive trips and even free granite for his family business.

Each count carries a maximum of 20 years and, as someone of betrayed the public trust, he would normally be given a sentence at the high end. However, this is Nagin who has spent his life getting passes from virtually everyone in his path. He may however find the federal courts less than enamored with his persona.

Nagin was always able to distract the media from his poor performance as mayor by using the disaster or race. When some critics were noting his lack of real involvement during the disaster, Nagin famously gave his “Chocolate City” speech to portray the demand for more federal funding as a race and civil rights issue on January 16, 2006. He played the race card brilliantly, declaring “We as black people, it’s time, it’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.” The questions in the media largely stopped and Nagin proceeded to cash in on the billions of relief.

As I wrote at the time, I was most ticked by the lack of accountability for any Louisiana politicians. When I lived in New Orleans, every hurricane season was greeted with local articles of how little preparation was being done on such a scenario. The dumping stations were often in ill-repair and warnings to people like Nagin were largely ignored or treated as someone else’s problem. The Big Easy just keep drifting along with no one making the tough calls. When the inevitable disaster hit, all of these politicians expressed total shock and demanded billions in aid.

225px-ted_stevensNagin always reminded me of Ted Stevens (R., Alaska), who I was also critical of during his tenure in the United States Senate. Like Stevens, Nagin walked around with the attitude of someone who was untouchable. Both were known as politicians for sale, but their respective parties did nothing to stop their corrupt practices.

Nagin was indicted in January 2013 bribes to help local businessmen Frank Fradella and Rodney Williams. He testified at his own trial. I expect that he hoped that he could pull off one last con job, but it did not work. Before the verdict, he said outside the New Orleans courtroom: “I’ve been at peace with this for a long time. I’m good.”

So are we, Ray, so are we.

17 thoughts on “The Big [Not-So] Easy: Nagin Convicted on 20 Out of 21 Counts”

  1. You raise a good point about areas of the country that are ill prepared for known risks, yet keep demanding “disaster aid”. Katrina didnt suprise me one bit: if you build a city below sea level on the gulf coast, you should not be surprised that it will get flooded. Yes, the Dutch manage to do it, but the entire country is well managed and governed, and they spend money on maintenance.

  2. The man who I believe is responsible for a thousand deaths because he was ignorant of the storm’s potential and ignored the warnings of experts to get the hell out of New Orleans. The man who continually seemed to try and racially polarize the city with cool phrases like “Chocolate City.” To the man who went from selling cable adverting to the Mayor’s office shame on him and voters. And finally to Ray Nagin, the man who feigned love and care for his poor and suffering neighbors as they attempted to rebuild all the while he was ripping off the people he pretended to care about, the feds and the American taxpayers. See you later dirtbag. I understand stealing, but stealing from desperate poor people? I suspect there is an extra warm corner for you somewhere.

    1. My mother was in the Hurricane of 1948 in NO and her first floor was flooded necessitating placing all their processions on the second floor. They lost most of their cattle and dairy equipment. Went from being quite wealthy to waiting for the chickens to lay more eggs. No insurance of welfare back them. Became a millionaire again by hauling the malt, the byproduct of the local brewery, away and selling it to the farmers, buying another ranch and eventually selling it before retirement. Based on the character of my Mon and Uncles, Papa was one of the really good guys.

      My point, my cousins to this day still believe the mafia are the ones that really run NO. They bought up so many assets over the years, that they now operate legitimately, if there is a such thing in todays world.

      That is what happens when you make “vice” illegal.

  3. The more taxpayer money available, the more corrupt politicians and private business cronies steal it. For us libertarians, we are baffled @ how people don’t see that when you put bad people in charge of money w/ little or no accountability, it gets stolen. This man abandoned his people in the crisis and he screwed them afterward.

  4. I can understand what Randyjet wrote. I had nearly went to N.O. after Katrina to help out with the law enforcement effort there but I had a two week scheduling conflict when the flights were to go down there. Later, after I read how a large percentage of NOPD walked off the job and all the craziness that went on with many who remained I am glad I didn’t go.

    It is a good thing that Nagin was convicted for those corruption charges. But it is not often the case where a leading politician gets to this level of sleaze without graft being common in the system. This is why it is especially important to involve the federal government.

  5. The Grand Nagin violating the Rules of Aquisition:

    Their home planet … is the center of the Ferengi Alliance and is governed by the Grand Nagus and a Commerce Authority made primarily of the Council of Economic Advisors (formerly Board of Liquidators). Like most of their culture, their religion is also based on the principles of capitalism: they offer prayers and monetary offerings to a “Blessed Exchequer” in hopes of entering the “Divine Treasury” upon death, and fear an afterlife spent in the “Vault of Eternal Destitution”.

    (Life In The Ferengi Home World). Perhaps some of that Old Orleans old time religion is in order?

  6. What happens in Louisiana is not staying in Louisiana anymore….. I think the lack of cooperation when Katrina hit…. Led the man to exposure of all sorts…. Not big enough to keep the north out since 1861……

  7. I backed a guy for Congress, I think in 1992, as a Dem and he was to me a very good guy for the job. He had a Masters in economics, tall, decent looking and articulate. He told me that he was required to go to NY to get approval for his Dem Party endorsement. They said NO and that was the end, as far as I know, of his political career. Perhaps he needed to be an Attorney. As you know there are not enough of them involved in government.

    It seems to me that when an investigation is done in the various municipalities, they always end up catching a number of politicians and or bureaucrats on various corruption charges. Wouldn’t it be easier and less expensive just to have every politicians, do a few years of time and just not worry about the corruption. I bet everyone of the slime balls would take that deal rather than having to worry all the time, if they are the one that are going to get caught and be the sacrificial lamb for the system. It has to be very stressful knowing that if you want to get elected you need to do a few sleazy things to get the backing of the Parties and special interests.

    They machine stated courting me for State politics but as soon as I mentioned I favored drug legalization, no more invitations to the “special” meetings. I never got a chance to hear any of the behind the scenes juice, as I was dropped like a hot potato and ended up being a libertarian, after a very short stent in the Rep. Party.

  8. While I am glad that Nagin is getting his just reward, one has to look at the systemic reasons for this culture of corruption. I lived in NO in 1993-4 and the cops were really corrupt. The reason is that they were paid starting at $12,000/yr. The only way for them to make a living was to work part time as security or take bribes, steal anything not nailed down,etc.. So this simply proves the old saying, you get what you pay for. At least I think that they have a lot better mayor now.

  9. I’m a retired NWS meteorologist. Ray Nagin should have been charged with 1000 counts of negligent homicide. He received personal calls from the NWS days ahead of time to start evacuation, he didn’t want to upset the tourists and local business so he sat on his hands. By the time he did decide to evacuate, mass evacuation was not possible. His lack of action killed people, plain and simple.

  10. Unfortunately this behavior seems to be accepted in so many places – most people just shrug and say “that’s how it works” – but for those of us who believe that this is CORRUPTION there can never be a let-up on bringing it into the light – this behavior is WASTING all our hard earned money !! Do you really want your tax money GIVEN away to people who do not deserve it, while at the same time leaving the bottom-level with no help every time ? Now it’s Chris Christie instead – I am eagerly waiting for the answers in the new corruption scandal with Sandy money !

  11. In my experience with New Orleans, this kind of corruption is commonplace there. It is the way business is done there. It is not just Nagin. It is the New Orleans culture. Reminds me of traveling to another country where bills greasing the wheels in the performance of one’s duties is expected.

  12. I learned quite some time ago to not waste energy wishing ill on people such as Ray Nagin. He serves as yet one more example of “What goes around comes around.”

    The payback may not come around in our preferred time frame, but it always does come around. I am pleased to be around to see “it” come around to Ray Nagin.

Comments are closed.