Thursday, August 16, 2007

Corrupt Louisiana Politics

It's well known that Louisiana politics are about the most corrupt in the nation. You could also make a case for Illinois, but I think Louisiana takes the case. The exploits of Gov. Huey Long, Gov. Edwin Edwards, and NOPD members have been widely covered. Drawing more recent attention, of course, are U.S. Rep. William Jefferson and U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

Unfortunately, Jefferson and Vitter aren't New Orleans' only recent political scandals. I've been somewhat MIA from blogging lately, but for those who don't keep up on the wider Katrina blogosphere, I'd like to add three names to our little scandal hall of fame:

1. City Councilman Oliver Thomas shocked the city this week with the announcement that he has "reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to charges of demanding illegal payments from a City Hall vendor." Thomas, a Democrat who was widely expected to run for Mayor in 2010, has resigned from the Council and will likely head to jail. The New York Times has it all here. Unfortunately, he's not the corrupt pol Louisianians have been after. That would be...

2. District Attorney Eddie Jordan. According to the Christian Science Monitor, "In 2003 and 2004, the conviction rate for murder and attempted murder was at best 12 percent... By comparison, the national conviction rate for murder and attempted murder is 80 percent." And that's before Katrina. Things have only gotten worse since the storm. In 2005, there were 161 New Orleans murders, but only 3 convictions. MSNBC has this litany of citizen complaints. This one in particular stands out to me: "Jordan raised the public’s ire further when he dropped charges against another murder suspect, one accused of slaughtering five teenagers last year in the city’s worst mass killing since 1995. Once again, his office explained, that a key eyewitness was uncooperative and couldn’t be located. But the next day, police produced the witness at a press conference and said that Jordan had dismissed the case without notifying them." As an Asst. U.S. Attorney years ago, Jordan helped bring down the corrupt Gov. Edwards, but oh, how the mighty have fallen. City councilmember Shelley Midura has called for his resignation, along with about 90% of the city. Mayor Nagin and Attorney General Foti are doing nothing, so this story drags on.

3. Finally, the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee recently elected a new member, Keith Rush. The problem here? Rush is a racist, an unabashed David Duke supporter.

I could go on, but you get the picture. The good citizens of New Orleans don't deserve this, and it hampers Katrina recovery in a bad way... but when the corrupt elites have such a long-standing stranglehold on the system, what can you do?

You can speak out. You can elect a Patrick Fitzgerald type. If Chicago and Springfield could be cleaned up, so can New Orleans and Baton Rouge. You can *always* yell louder.


Anonymous said...

One of the problems is having a good choice for candidates. Often it is a choice of the least incompetent person. People have NEVER known good government in LA. We don't expect it, and that is exactly the quality we get. I was hopeful that Katrina would wake people up to the importance of politics in their lives. It is not looking good right now. I am glad the FBI is working hard to arrest the crooks. I think that is the only way to clean the system up.

EricInWisconsin said...

The problem is the mindset of the electorate. In Lou9isiana, the more corrupt a politician is, the faster voters will fall all over each other to reach the voting booth to elect him. How sad.