The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune has long since quit trying to maintain an objectivity about some of our community’s leaders. Concerning Mayor C. Ray Nagin, the paper has lost patience with his posturing, his evasions and his lack of transparency (the very quality he promised would distinguish his administration).
Several times a week, the paper gives a little more detail of an expensive vacation trip the mayor and his family took at the expense of one of the city’s contractors a few weeks following Hurricane Katrina. The trip to Montego Bay would have been impressive to most of us, but Hizzoner says he remembers almost nothing of it, that it was “just a blur.” The contractor, who usually palmed himself off to outsiders as “deputy mayor,” a position that does not exist, had intimate contacts with other companies with deep pockets which he engaged to work for the city. Turns out the trip was paid by one of those companies.
Were there shenanigans involved? Especially when you consider that this company was paid huge bucks to install the traffic-light-cameras, most of which ended up not working? Hard to tell. To my knowledge, nothing has been pinned on the mayor. However, he’s not helping the investigation and says he has forgotten all about the trip.
I’m leading up to something, so bear with me a moment.
Dr. Ed Blakely has resigned. We’ve written about him before. Mayor Nagin brought him in to be something of a savior for New Orleans, to work with our city’s departments and come up with a master plan for the redevelopment of the flooded city. Blakely, owning a resume most people would drool over, arrived with grandiose promises of “cranes in the sky” within a few months. In time, when almost nothing was accomplished under his leadership, and when it became apparent that Blakely’s primary job was drawing a big salary while jetting around the world to appear as expert spokesman on this or that program, always at huge fees, Blakely found another way to get the job done: take credit for what others have done.
So, now, Dr. Blakely gives himself an ‘A’ on his report card and flies back home to Australia.
Local columnists are not letting him depart without a few choice words.
James Gill, resident curmudgeon for the Times-Picayune, writes: “Mayor Ray Nagin and his Recovery Director Ed Blakely complement each other admirably. Nagin cannot remember things that did happen, while Blakely can effortlessly recall a bunch of things that didn’t.”
“Thus,” Gill continues, “Nagin can prostitute his office and promptly block the memory, while Blakely, as he announces he is getting out of town, continues to bask in the glow of imaginary accomplishments.”
They do have a lot in common, Gill says: “Hardly anyone believes a word either of them says.”