Former NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin in hot water

These days, when you see a story about a big city mayor and a hurricane, you’re expecting to see more jaw flapping from Michael Bloomberg of the Big Apple talking about Sandy. But this weekend we get to bring you a blast from the past. Anybody remember Ray Nagin? For our youngest readers, a brief refresher may be in order. Ray was mayor of New Orleans when Katrina hit, nearly a decade ago. When he felt that the federal emergency management response was neither quick nor competent enough, he made a name for himself by regularly blasting then President Bush.

Nagin said the time has long passed for federal authorities to act on their promises.

“You mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can’t figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on man,” he said.

He became a darling of the Left, hoisted on the figurative shoulders of the media. He was the little guy who dared to defy the corruption and incompetence of the federal giant. It was a heartwarming tale. Unfortunately for Ray, it’s now alleged that he was helping himself to more than face time with the networks in the aftermath of the storm.

Federal prosecutors today announced a 21-count indictment against former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, accused of enriching himself as the city struggled to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin is accused of using the office of mayor to steer city projects to business associates who, in turn, allegedly paid kickbacks and bribes and flew him on lavish free trips to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Las Vegas.

Nagin was charged with bribery, honest service wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.

If these allegations all prove true in court, Ray was a busy guy during the years his city was rebuilding after the storm. The details tell a series of stories, each one more outlandish than the last. Before the waters had fully receded, the Mayor apparently set up a private account called Stone Age LLC, established as a repository for payments which he probably didn’t want people looking at too closely. According to the suit, he waived delinquent tax bills for someone who provided him with private jets and limos. After awarding a million dollar recovery contract for fixing sidewalks to one business, (and that would be a million dollars of your money, by the way) the company deposited ten grand into his personal account. Another businessman who later pleaded guilty to bribing public officials dropped $112,500 on Nagin.

That’s some pretty sweet work if you can get it.

There’s not much more to say on this one which wouldn’t immediately devolve into the realm of schadenfreude. But if the prosecutors bring home the bacon on this one, it will prove to be a stunning study in hypocrisy. For all of the blustering Nagan did regarding the failures of government while his city was drowning, one wonders how he managed to keep a straight face if he was pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to bail the city out? (Literally, as well as figuratively.)

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