This NOLA Ex-Mayor…

Calling Katrina a “national tragedy,” former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial put the primary responsibility for disaster response squarely on the federal government’s shoulders. Morial, president of the National Urban League, was New Orleans’ mayor from 1994 to 2004.

…is certainly qualified to criticize the uneven federal response. If anybody knows what a smooth operator is, it would be him. Now, these teasing little snippets are from an excellent investigative series in 2001, and NOLA would say ‘bah, old news’ or worse, ‘BAU’. But they’re pretty new names to the rest of us, popping out alongside quotes castigating the federal response, bolstered by post-’01 job titles bestowing gravitas on the speaker. “Oooh, URban League President. Must be somebody, huh?” Not so fast.
When these reports were published, Marc Morial was Mayor of New Orleans.

…By contrast, Mayor Marc Morial said there is no reason to keep the wealthy from participating in programs that predominantly help minority- and woman-owned companies.
Fundamentally, I don’t believe that success should be penalized,” Morial said…
…The city’s policy of no revenue limits has helped one of New Orleans’ biggest construction contractors, a company that one agency rejected for DBE status on the ground that the woman-owned business appeared to be a front for male operators.
During the past five years, Gootee Construction has received more than $10 million in work as a woman-owned business through the city’s Open Access Plan…
…Gootee wouldn’t have qualified for the program if Marc Morial hadn’t removed many of the restrictions that were imposed in 1989 by Mayor Sidney Barthelemy and the City Council. But in 1995, less than a year after taking office, Morial issued an executive order that replaced the city’s race- and gender-neutral plan with a program in which minority- and woman-owned businesses automatically were granted certification. Morial dumped the existing revenue limits, as well as restrictions on net worth and household income.
Barthelemy said recently that Gootee is a “perfect example of how you can abuse” a program without such limits…
…Morial didn’t specifically address Gootee, but he said he removed the revenue restrictions because he didn’t think they made sense.
“The assumption behind revenue limitations is that companies reach a point where they don’t need the program,” Morial said. “The doors to the private sector in this city are closed. A lot of these companies, if they weren’t doing business in the government sector, would be out of business tomorrow.”
Patrick Gootee would argue with that.

It all seems to boil down to “one hand washes the other” if you wanted one of these contracts. Take the story of the Stanleys…

Audrey Stanley, 66, raised her three sons and two daughters alone. The family spent about 20 years in the St. Bernard public housing development before moving out in the late 1970s.
Stanley juggled jobs as a private sitter and a nursing assistant, but a faltering economy saw one of her employers, a nursing home, close. She picked up work as an aide with a visiting nursing program, but it was getting harder for her to lift patients. In 1993, she decided she wanted a job that would keep her closer to home.
Herman, her eldest son, also was struggling. After returning from a stint in the Air Force, he earned money as a cook at local restaurants. But after he lost a job, he started looking for a new line of work.
The idea of going into the security business came from Audrey Stanley’s husband, who was working for another small security firm. The couple had reunited after many years apart, and before Herman Stanley Sr. died in 1993, he and the rest of the family tried to get Stanley Security off the ground. First, Audrey passed a state licensing exam for owners of private security companies. Then, she, her husband and two of their sons enrolled in state-mandated courses on private security, costing them $130 per person for 16 hours of classroom instruction and firearms training.
For $50, the firm was able to get its name on a state vendor list, a vital step for fledgling businesses because it provides notice of bidding opportunities. Audrey Stanley took what was left of her savings and bought a half-dozen uniforms…

…and the Pierres, for instance.

…Before starting the business in 1993, Crescent Guardian’s African-American owner, Marian H. Pierre, had spent 25 years working at City Hall, including 14 years as a deputy city assessor and another six as legislative aide to City Councilman Joe Giarusso. Although her résumé listed no experience in the security industry, Pierre’s company won the water board contract in 1994 when no other bidders emerged for the work.
Her company lacked some of the key items needed to satisfy the bidding specifications, but friends stepped in to help her out, she said in a 1995 interview with New Orleans CityBusiness. One of them helped her borrow $70,000 in working capital, which she needed to satisfy the water board. Another friend helped her finance uniforms and radios for 70 security guards.
The article didn’t identify the friends, and Pierre declined requests for an interview for this article.

As anywhere, having friends is an all around good thing.

…Campaign finance reports show that Pierre of Crescent Guardian has contributed at least $2,500 to Mayor Marc Morial, who approved the contract, and $1,200 to City Councilman Jim Singleton, who serves on the water board committee that recommended that the board rehire Crescent Guardian.
By contrast, neither Stanley nor United Protection has made any local political contributions, records show.
When asked why he approved the hiring of Crescent over two firms that were recommended by the water board’s staff, Singleton said: “You got me there. I was under the impression that she was the low bidder and the person who was recommended by the staff for this job. I must not have been doing as good a job as I should have in checking into this one.”
Singleton said Pierre’s contribution did not sway him. “$1,200 ain’t enough for me to make that kind of decision,” he said.
Morial also said he did not intervene on behalf of a supporter. “Let me be honest: Marian Pierre came from somebody else’s politics,” he said.
Morial said he can’t explain why the agency gave the job to the worst-rated bidder. “I’m not going to defend the decision one way or another,” he said. “You can’t sit there in every Sewerage & Water Board meeting and look at the specifics of 100 procurement decisions. We pretty much affirm the decisions of the committee.”

Rubberstamp, baby, and just as smooth as silk. Told ya. The man knows smooth operating.
Laissez les bons temps rouler, n’est pas?

7 Responses to “This NOLA Ex-Mayor…”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    Man, nice stuff. “Aw shucks, ya’ got me there.”

  2. Dave E says:

    “Singleton said Pierre’s contribution did not sway him. “$1,200 ain’t enough for me to make that kind of decision,” he said.”
    So even if I believed him, and I don’t, that kind of sounds to me like he does have a price…’s just more than $1200. The Councilman has his pride you know.

  3. Mr. Bingley says:

    $1,200 don’t buy what it used to.
    Damn Bushy McChimphitler and his inflationary ways! It’s gotten more expensive to bribe politicians!

  4. Dave E says:

    So true Mr. Bingley, I know I’ve been feeling the pinch. Fucking Bush.

  5. Well, Dave, even the Mayor said he’d only inherited the Pierres…AND their political contributions, paltry as they were. You shoulda got someone of yours in there when the gettin’ was cheap! Hind sight’s 20/20, my friend. Pay up.

  6. Dave J says:

    Ugh. For all his faults, Nagin really still IS an improvement over Morial, who was practically a caricature of the slimeball New Orleans mayor. I’m told his dad was better at it, though, because while he was just as corrupt, Ernest Morial wasn’t the fucking airheaded egotistical moron his son turned out to be.

  7. And the poor man died before HE could be president of the Urban League.
    Talk about turning a blind eye, tho. That’s why I posted this ~ the rest of the country has no conception was a cesspool NOLA was/is. Like folks with their “rats chewing on bodies in American streets!” Well, the local govt. ran the place like the Third World countries that happens in, so hey.

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