"Being incredibly selfish is not a criminal act unto itself"
Nevertheless, Jim Bernazzani, special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office, added that he's still going to investigate Renee Gill Pratt and matters related to the donation of vehicles to the City of New Orleans which ended up in the possession of non-governmental organizations.
If it's front page news, does it still merit blogger attention?
I don't know, but I'll keep blogging about this until Renee Gill Pratt is tarred and feathered.
Is my reaction harsh? If you think so, consider how many billions of dollars in aid to Louisiana her selfishness might cost.
There may be no more corruption and ineptitude in Louisiana than in other places, but we're getting all the attention right now, and we need to be squeaky clean.
Besides, what the hell could she be thinking? Her actions display nothing but contempt for the citizens of New Orleans and the well-being of the city.
The fact that she wasn't alone among councilmembers in giving away vehicles to friends ought to send a signal to every New Orleanian that WE NEED ETHICS REFORM NOW!!!
The Times-Picayune story also detailed the following particulars in the "cargate" affair:
- DaimlerChrysler gave Renee Gill Pratt specific verbal and written instructions that the 20 donated vehicles were "were for the exclusive use of public agencies or government units, such as police and fire departments."
- Batt gave one vehicle to the Lakeview Crime Prevention District and the other to the Audubon Nature Institute. Both are "quasi-government" agencies which have their own revenue streams.
- Sapir was trying to donate vehicles to two groups in which he had close personal ties: Friends of NORD, and Victims and Citizens Against Crime.
- Clarkson gave vehicles to two churches in her district.
- Thomas said that he had planned to donate vehicles to the Harmony Center and the Council on Aging.
- Council President Oliver Thomas and members Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, didn't say what their combined six vehicles have been used for in recent months (but you'd think that if they were honest, they should have been able to answer which agency they gave them to since the city had such a great need).
- The council unanimously voted on Thursday to have the city attorney's office review the disposition of donated vehicles and city funds, but ironically, the same city attorney's office approved the Gill Pratt vehicle transfers.
- At-Large Councilman Oliver Thomas actually said that some of the vehicles might be returned to the nonprofit groups that have been using them. Has he been smoking crack and watching soap operas all day on the public dole?
- Gretna gave a donated vehicle to a non-governmental agency too.
- A truck donated to Kenner is being used by Mayor Ed Muniz's chief of staff, Mike Yenni, who said it would be eventually be retrofitted as an emergency vehicle (When? When you're finished using it?).
- St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis has been using a black, 2006 Dodge 1500 donated by DaimlerChrysler.
A bit of positive news: U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-Kenner) properly assigned 20 Dodges and another 15 Fords to government agencies.
It looks like the only three people with clean records on the City Council so far are the four new members: Shelley Midura, Stacy Head, James Carter, and Arnie Fielkow.
Oliver Thomas said a couple of weeks ago that he would wait a couple more weeks before revisiting Midura's attempt to finally implement a law that's been on the books for 11 years to create an Ethics Review Board and an independent Office of Inspector General.
Well Oliver -- it's been a couple of weeks now. How about today?!!
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | We Are Not OK | Renee Gill Pratt | Government Corruption | New Orleans Corruption | New Orleans City Council