Nagin in Jail – Shreveport Lesson to Learn

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nagin_go_to_jailShreveport good-government activists need to see this New Orleans news of Ray Nagin entering prison as a possible symbol of how to clean up government corruption. Nagin and Cedric Glover may have some common bonds is the manner in which city contracts were negotiated.

The story of the investigation of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who began a 10-year sentence on corruption charges today should be repeated for every politician who “worked the system” to take public resources for private use. The Nagin story of a millionaire cable television executive who won the 2002 mayoral election as a political outsider pledged to reform is a sad commentary of rampant cronyism in New Orleans that relates to City Halls across America.

ray-naginGood government efforts only bear fruit when citizens are committed to open records, public business that is truly public and refusing scandalous insider deals with city contractors. New Orleans first mayor indicted for crimes committed while in office is a sad title for Nagin, especially for a city known for “deals.”

Nagin entered prison all but destitute, according to court records, surviving on a small income from his wife’s job, handouts from relatives and food stamps. What’s really amazing would be to track the money that may have slipped through the cracks.

Nagin was convicted on 20 of 21 counts for taking bribes from contractors, who were rewarded with multimillion-dollar New Orleans contracts. Nagin’s 10-year sentence is half the maximum he could have received under federal guidelines, but is the longest of any of the other players charged in the bribery scheme.

Good government advocates must look to find the pattern of documents of city leaders who modeled their administrations on similar New Orleans schemes for conducting city business. The smoke around so many Shreveport City contracts might be the subject of mayoral forums between now and the November primary.

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