Saturday, May 03, 2008

5/03/2008 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (4/30/08)
  • Obama Repudiates Ex-Pastor over Controversial Remarks
  • The Politics of the Rev. Wright Controversy: A Debate with Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Adolph Reed, Jr.
  • CorpWatch’s Pratap Chatterjee and Ex-Titan Translator Marwan Mawiri on Corporate Cronyism and Intelligence Outsourcing in Iraq

Listen | The 311 on Inspector General Robert Cerasoli (re-broadcast)
When Robert Cerasoli began work as New Orleans' first Inspector General seven months ago, he said "I didn't think this would be a bed of roses" (The Times-Picayune, 9/05/07).

Cerasoli initially worked for months without an office, budget, or staff. At the end of November, the City Council approved a $3.2 million budget for the Inspector General's office -- three times greater than Mayor Ray Nagin's suggested $1.3 million (The Times-Picayune, 11/27/08).

He finally moved out of a donated office in the Loyola library, and into an unfurnished office without phones or computers on St. Charles Avenue (The Times-Picayune, 4/19/08).

At the end of March, Cerasoli said he couldn't pay an invoice for advertising to recruit his staff, complaining that his budget hadn't been entered into the city's computer accounting system. "There's a lot of entrenched incompetence, and there's a lot of people who just don't want me to do anything anyway," Cerasoli said (Gambit Weekly, 3/25/08).

This past week, the Inspector General's services would have been helpful in resolving a dispute over the city's 311 contract. WWL TV news reporter Lee Zurik was stonewalled while investigating why New Orleans citizens are paying almost $20 per resident for the telephone information service, almost seven times greater than the national average for 311 services.

In an email mistakenly carbon copied back to Zurik, Mayor Ray Nagin's deputy director of communications James Ross wrote to intergovernmental affairs director Kenya Smith, "Let's smoke him out." Zurik was promised an interview, but was told after he arrived at City Hall that no one was available to speak to him (WWL TV, 5/01/08).

One of Robert Cerasoli's first experiences as Inspector General involved the very topic of the 311 contract.

He addressed a standing-room only crowd of spectators at a speech he delivered last November.

Music Played
Dr. Ross, "Fox Chase," Takoma Records.

Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson, "Stack of Dollars," Arhoolie Records.


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