I would like the world, especially the United States to watch
what is going on in New Orleans, La. For all of my 34 years,
New Orleans, La. my home, has had a reputation for having a
corrupt government. It was standard business practice that in
order to open a new business in New Orleans you had better come
with your checkbook. The politicians here have been so corrupt
that they were hitting businesses pockets just for the chance to
work in the city. This resulted in many fortune 500 companies
leaving the city and leaving city dwellers to have the majority
of it's working force depending on tourism.
Tourism is Big Business here, it's almost the only business here, but even the tourist have been victims of our corrupt government. The corruption of the government in New Orleans has left New Orleans with a work-force that consists in a large part of service type low paying jobs mostly in the hotel and restaurant business. The public school system is corrupt and constantly in the newspaper for misappropriation of funds, not complying with federal government rules, sexual harassment and the list goes on and on.
Needless to say because of the above mention reasons and lots more people have been leaving New Orleans in droves. Enter our new Mayor Ray Nagin. Ray Nagin was a late-comer into our election for Mayor. He is a part owner, multi-millionaire of Cox Cable. He ran on a platform of Change in the Way the City of New Orleans does business and for once New Orleans may finally have a mayor who actually does what he says.
After less than six months in office Mayor Nagin has started doing what no one has done in years, clean up the corruption in City Government. Yesterday in a move that has been unheard of in New Orleans, Brake-tag stations were shut down, dozens of city employees and cabdrivers were arrested, and a high-ranking bureaucrat was fired Monday as Mayor Ray Nagin launched a sweeping crack-down on alleged government corruption, one that is expected to stretch well beyond the Taxicab Bureau and inspection stations initially targeted.
The Utilities Department director was dismissed and escorted out of her office Monday, and the deputy director of the department and head of the Taxicab Bureau, was fired and escorted out of City Hall in handcuffs.
The department has in essence been liquidated and its operations farmed out to other departments at least on a temporary basis. Police officials said they also have evidence that EVERY employee at the city's three brake-tag stations had been accepting bribes in exchange for approving substandard vehicles. The stations have been closed for two weeks while new employees are sought.
On Monday before sunrise, law enforcement officers began serving arrest warrants on 84 taxi drivers and city employees charged with bribery, malfeasance and other crimes. Evidence leading to the raids showed that unqualified cabdrivers had routinely been able to buy licenses and other documentation from city bureaucrats and that substandard vehicles were waved through brake-tag inspection stations in exchange for bribes. Let me restate that this type of accountability is UNHEARD of in New Orleans. These practices and dozens of others have been going on since I have lived in this city. It was known to everyone in the city that if you were opening a new business that you would have to grease some palms in order to do so.
At the present time our new Mayor is still checking into city corruption and it appears to be leading back to our former Mayor, Marc Morial and his former CAO who is now a City Council-member. During this investigation it has become apparent that residents in New Orleans have been complaining about the corrupt practices of the Utilities Department and others. Mayor Nagin has discovered complaints dating back to the early 1990's that contain detailed information about what was going on in the city government. These letters were forwarded to the former mayor and his CAO but were basically swept aside. The citizens of New Orleans have become outraged. The size of the task force investigating the allegations of corruption has had to be increased in order to handle all the complaints. It seems as though the arrest of individuals has even big business and ordinary citizens coming out and telling stories of how they were forced to participate in illegal activities in order to get business done in New Orleans.
I write this email to you in the hopes that you will print it and show others that people are starting to take a stand. No one really expected Ray Nagin to win the mayoral race but voters in New Orleans showed that they were tired of being trampled upon and voted in a mayor who didn't owe any favors, already had his own money and really wanted to to what was right for the people of New Orleans. As an example of what type of individual Ray Nagin is, his cousin was on the list of taxi cab drivers to be arrested. When asked what to do about it he told them if he is guilty arrest him, and they did. He was handcuffed right along with the other taxi cab drivers. I invite you and others to read about the new direction our city is moving toward. You can read about Ray Nagin and what is going on in New Orleans at www.nola.com.
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