Some might say that Hizzoner was railroaded into this talk. Gee, how can one expect a city official to not respond to questions related to a City Hall scandal a-brewing while said official is at a large meeting of attorneys? Well, has anybody ever thought that Nagin could have turned this latest interview down with a simple "no comment"?
The man is stumbling here, and it is sad.
Somehow, he also seemed to think that a whole "Who's On First?" routine would somehow quell any further questions about the list the Mayor's Office of Communications passed on to Zurik a week ago and cast even more suspicion on Zurik himself.
Zurik: Are we using an old list? Is that what you're...is that what you're sticking to?
Nagin: I don't know which list you're using...(unintelligible)
Zurik: We're using the list that you gave us last week.
Nagin: ...I didn't give you anything.
Zurik: Well, Ms Fields, Ms (Penya) Moses-Fields gave us a list last week then that we used in our latest report and now you're saying that that's not accurate?
Nagin: I have no idea which list you're using. Your first list had Congressman Jefferson on it supposedly, then you had city employees, then you had Officer Riley...I don't know what you're using.
Zurik: I can tell you that we have it on our website, and I can tell you that we are using the list that you (nods to Moses-Fields, looks back at Nagin) gave us last week, the list that you said was accurate.
Nagin: Well, I gave you the list that NOAH gave us. You still need the list that is supported...that is supporting the payments.
Zurik: And why haven't you given us that list?
Nagin: I don't know if you've requested it.
Zurik: I've requested the accurate list that shows what houses you did work on. I would think that would be that list, right?
Nagin: You got what you requested.
If anybody thinks that Zurik is unfairly associating Nagin with NOAH, I have this sign posted on a listed home fairly recently to show how much Nagin associated himself with the program in the first place:
...there is also this press release from March 2007 concerning the mayor's promotion of a certain remediation program, complete with : “I want to encourage every resident who is not able either physically or financially to remediate their properties to register for this program by calling NOAH.”
I did not see anything resembling leadership coming from this elected official of ours tonight. I saw obfuscation, an attitude that was less than serious (and instantly switched to indignance when Zurik pointed out the farcical circles the mayor was trying to have him run in concerning which was the real NOAH list - once again, how dare an investigative reporter should actually do his job and question him on this? Nagin, the transparent mayor! How could Zurik do this to him???), and, in the end, no meaningful cooperation on behalf of the public that gave him another term in office. Irresponsibility personified.
Very, very sad...and also much too little and too late for some who were in need.
At long last, Mr Nagin, have you left no sense of decency, sir?*
Oh, and the Times-Picayune finally woke up and started covering this story. They must have been on vacation.
*Army-McCarthy hearings, question from the US Army attorney Joseph Welch to Joseph McCarthy. The question still needs to be asked of all our politicians at all levels of government these days.