Monday, July 17, 2006

Business as Usual wil not be tolerated (link)

I was guided to the article in the title link by bayoustjohndavid over at Moldy City.

In the article which was written back in May, there were some questions about finance, ethics, and the election for mayor. I don't really know if much more than this was ever reported or if there was any follow up. I posed these questions to Mr. Russell to find out. I will let you know the results if I get them. The appearance of impropriety is strong. Hope it turns out to be a misperception.

Dear Mr. Russell,

I have read this article ( on two separate occasions. There are some questions that you posed to which no response was given.

1) What was the amount of the contract that MCCI received out of the 24 million?
2) You mention that MCCI billed for $90 - $106 per hour. Is that a normal rate to "visually assess damages"? What is the normal rate? (I am a teacher. If this is the case, I think I may need to switch professions because a) that job seems pretty easy and b) it pays a whole lot more than I get.)
3) Was the record keeping issue ever resolved and did MCCI receive the money that they requested?
4) How does someone whose term expired continue to serve on the Sewerage and Water Board? I thought that was the point of terms. Are there other individuals on the Sewerage and Water Board that are serving past their terms? How many and who?
5) Was there any clarification as to how two people who claim to not be doing business together can list the same address on their contributions?
6) Were the checks eventually located? Did this turn out to be faulty record-keeping or was it accurate?
7) Did you ever find out who "B. Edwards" is? Did you call and ask to speak to him or her? Does anyone at MCCI know who this is?
8) What happened when Edwards contacted the State Ethics Commission?

This whole series of incidents seem very suspicious, more than slightly unethical (and in some cases illegal), and like business as usual in New Orleans. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I hope that you continue to report on this story and others like it. The good people of New Orleans should not stand for business as usual.


1 comment:

bayoustjohndavid said...

Writing Russell was a good idea, but there were stories going back to early 2005, involving his former CAO, Charles Rice. I don't know if Nagin is as corrupt as some of his predecessors--sometimes I think he is, sometimes I think he just runs a very loose ship. I do suspect that, if Katrina hadn't struck, the Picayune would have run a mildly reproachful editorial about appearances. I missed it at the time, but I just stumbled across one that Gambit did, dated 3/22/05.

Scary thing is, it will be very easy to be wasteful when the reconstruction money starts to come in. Since it turns out that the terms on that $150M loan package weren't so generous after all, that's a dangerous combination. If the boom turns out to be short-lived and the city needs more aid when the loans come due, the questionable contracts, that are being ignored now, will surely come to light. Maybe, I'm being paranoid, but ignoring potential problems isn't the way to avoid them.