I'd be happy to buy you a Shirley Temple
Criminal District Judge Calvin Johnson responded to accusations that he misspent taxpayer money to attend a seminar in Jamaica in a letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune:
I have never spent more money for travel in any year than the Supreme Court allows me to spend.
I have only gone places where I am allowed to go by Supreme Court rules.
I don't stay in all-inclusive hotels.
I don't have 6,000 cases pending trial. As a matter of fact, it's less than 200 cases.
I have been at work since the Thursday after the storm. ...
I missed two days while in Jamaica and had another judge sitting for me so that those who elected me to serve would still be served in my absence. ...
By the way, I don't like or drink piña coladas unless very hard-pressed.
Judge Johnson, you might very well be the best judge in New Orleans. Your performance on the court might very well be exemplary. Your service to the community might very well merit praise, not criticism. Public opinion may very well be judging your actions unjustly. So use your legal skills to defend the value of your $4,500 trip to Jamaica. Help us to understand the value of your contribution to the well-being of the city, and the merit of the expenditure for your trip to Jamaica.
What, specifically, was the purpose of your trip?
What, specifically, did you learn that you didn't know before?
Why couldn't you learn those things in New Orleans, or at least somewhere which wouldn't draw scrutiny for playboy behavior?
What institution of legal training excels so much that a trip to Jamaica is merited?
You aren't the only judge who went to Jamaica. Charles Elloie went, as did Michael Bagneris, Kern Reese, Herbert Cade, and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero. I appreciate your attempt to justify your actions, but it still doesn't look good. Fundamentally, why should citizens trust your judgment if they question your ethics? The same goes for the other judges who went to Jamaica.
Judge Johnson, you have yet to answer the concerns of citizens that you aren't uselessly spending their money on junkets for personal pleasure. Don't you understand that citizens want an end to the abuse of public office for private benefit?
That you don't like Piña Coladas doesn't really answer citizens' concerns.
I'd be happy to personally open a tab for Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, or the hard stuff if that's your pleasure. That's not really the point. $4,500 on the taxpayers' tab for a vacation under the cover of "education" is the issue.
You, and the other judges who went on that junket, owe us a better explanation, or an apology and a refund.
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | We Are Not OK | Government Corruption | New Orleans Corruption