Thursday, November 01, 2007

Connect the dots for me here, people, 'cause I have NO clue. I'm callin' 'em as I see 'em tonight.

I have loads of newspapers that I can't just toss away in our own personal 32-gallon monuments to city corruption and cronyism. Plus, I missed this event, so I must dispose of the papers in more creative laying them out on the floor so I can carve a suitably creepy smiling face into a pumpkin for Halloween. I had to save this article from being covered in pumpkin guts, however, because so many have talked about all of us running around the Gulf Coast with PTSD, but none have really checked out the physical implications of diving right into rebuilding our homes. Ladies and gents, let's be careful out there. As I found out via my dad's unfortunate chainsaw-wielding experiences, some things are best left to the professionals...and if they are not in evidence, don't rush things with your repairs, if you can at all help it.

I've been going back in time recently. In other words, I've been reading about events that happened slightly before my first time in New Orleans and were prosecuted coincident with my first six years here before my NYC move. Eddie Jordan apparently had to be convinced not to make a deal with former governor Edwin Edwards' attorney: ...Jordan told his assistants that he wanted to accept the deal. It would achieve what he thought was the most important goal: putting Edwards in prison, if only for a short period of time (eighteen months, according to the terms of the deal). After all, no one could guarantee that a jury would convict the charismatic former governor. But Steve Irwin, the lead prosecutor on the case, forcefully opposed the deal. Given the volumes of tapes and other evidence amassed by the FBI, he was convinced they had more than enough to convict Edwards.*

It was one thing to be skeptical of the FBI's ability to build a case against Edwards, since attempts to obtain convictions against him in 1985 and 1986 had failed. But this is another:
During this same period, Jordan was putting himself at odds with his law enforcement associates on another highly sensitive matter: whether to indict Cleo Fields, who had lost the 1995 governor's race to Mike Foster while in Congress and was now back in the Louisiana State Senate....On March 24, 1997, the video camera above the desk in Edwards's law office had captured Fields stuffing into his pocket a thick wad of $100 bills - totaling $20, 000 - that the former governor had just handed him. Freddy Cleveland, Geoffrey Santini, Steve Irwin, and the other Feds thought that Edwards had given Fields the cash to pay off a member of the gambling board to help secure the fifteenth and final riverboat license for DeBartolo Entertainment/Hollywood Casino. This videotape was enough to prompt the Clinton administration to withdraw a top White House job that Fields had accepted.

...Jordan told his assistant prosecutors that he didn't think they had grounds to indict Fields. Practically all of them disagreed. When Fields appeared before a federal grand jury, he took the Fifth Amendment, bolstering their case...Later, after Fields' brush with indictment became public, critics would say that Jordan was protecting Fields' political career. Jordan would reply simply that he was not sure why Edwards had paid Fields the cash.*

Jordan should have been gone in 1998. It was his association with "Dollar Bill" Jefferson that most likely helped keep him in office. According to Adrastos, his friends are certainly helping him out with life after public office, so, as my husband has said (and Swampwoman says in the comments) his friends most certainly can help out this city by paying the $3.7 million Jordan now owes all the folks he fired. Eddie, pass them resignation papers into the more-than-capable hands of Madame Dangerblond...or get 'em to my husband early in the morning, as he makes that trip to Baton Rouge every day without incident.

And finally, this fellow is lamenting that the ghosts of 8-29 have stolen his words, and, ironically, he's still writing about it so well. I should be able to write about writer's block so eloquently:

There are heroes here among the shades, and their stories are as inseparable as Odysseus' is from the shades of the heroes of the Iliad he encounters in the underworld. The heroism of the people of New Orleans (not my sorry self, but those who lost everything and came back again) is measured in part by the depths, the darkness from which they are rising up, by the ghosts they struggle to leave behind so that they can live something like the lives they had before. Only by remembering all of the horror and suffering and loss the ghosts of the flood represents can the true measure of their heroism be taken. This is what I must remember, why I must remember, why I must keep writing.

Mark, none of this is a mark (heh) of abandonment, but of reassessment. An attempt to keep up certain struggles without completely losing yourself in the upkeep. You, too, like all of us, are human. I'm right there with you in spirit. I am also confident that you, as a creative individual and a helluva writer, will find your way. The disasters of 8-29 will always be imprinted on our psyches in one way or another - the trick is, indeed, to live with it and to even help ourselves and others transcend it in some way.

*from Tyler Bridges' Bad Bet On The Bayou. Check the comments below to get Sheckrastos' skinny on this book, as well as a couple of important points concerning lawyering. I think Miller Lite might be in order for Shecky - he seems to be confessing some yellow-tinged thoughts lately...


Oh, I spoke too soon on the "finally" part. This is Oyster's shame, shame, shame on the NOLA blogpocheh post, which probably ought to be subtitled "I don't think you're happy enough!" Okay, everybody went berserk when they saw their property assessments in these parts, but Oyster did tell us all that the millage rollbacks would help balance everything out. Thankfully, the city is staying the course on those rollbacks despite the Walking Id's attempts to reverse that momentum in order to finance a bunch of nebulous, unspecified projects.

Not bad for a treif bivalve, folks. Happy Happy Joy Joy!


Adrastos said...

Leigh: Edwin was *never* going to accept a plea bargain. He was convinced he would beat the rap since he'd won in the Brilab case, which was a much worse thing. That involved nursing homes and the 2000 case involved shaking down shitbird gambling operators.

Leigh C. said...

Huh. Then why'd his lawyer even approach Jordan in the first place? To get a grip on how serious the Feds were going to be in prosecuting the case?

The long, long road home,New Orleans said...

very enlightening

Adrastos said...

Lawyers always take the temperature of the opposition. Besides, you don't need your clients approval to *discuss* a plea bargain. Talkin' ain't agreeing.

Also, Tyler Bridges account of the EWE trial et al is not gospel. There are some major mistakes in the book. He has a very poor understanding of what made Edwin tick.

Leigh C. said...

Yeah, I thought the author was a tad enamored of the crook, but I appreciated his window on what was happening with Jordan at that time. Seems the access Bridges had to Edwards clouded his judgment some.

Schroeder said...

Maybe Jordan's supporters -- the ones who heckled Jordan's critics, after he dropped charges on the defendant in the merciless execution of 5 black teenagers, and then giggled at their temerity -- could find $3.7 million laying around to reimburse the taxpayers. If only it were a laughing matter.

Leigh C. said...

If ANYTHING gets through Jordan's thick head at the end of all this mess, it's that he needs to be careful who his so-called "friends" are. That friendship can only go so far when true justice is concerned. He really ought to have kept his enemies closer, if only because it might have helped him do the job he was put in office to do - and then we wouldn't be talking about all of this.