Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well, it looks like I got a partial reversal of our Purim-style governance just in time for Purim itself:

Civil District Court Judge Rose Ledet slapped Mayor Ray Nagin and City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields with the maximum penalties in WWL-TV’s suit against the mayor and the city attorney over the station’s public records lawsuit. The judge ruled that Nagin, Moses-Fields and the administration acted in a manner that was “not only unreasonable and arbitrary, but in flagrant violation of the law they have been sworn to uphold.” She also awarded the station attorney’s fees “in an amount to be agreed upon by the parties or set at a hearing upon application by Plaintiff.”

WWL reporter Lee Zurik sued Nagin and Moses-Fields under the Louisiana Public Records Act to get copies of Nagin’s emails and calendar for 2008, and Communications Director Ceeon Quiett’s emails for the same period. Nagin, through the City Attorney’s Office, answered that most of his calendar and emails had been deleted because the city’s computer server on which those records were stored was overloaded. Nagin also claimed “executive privilege” with regard to massive sections of the emails and calendar entries that were retrievable. When ordered to turn over the calendar, Nagin’s staff “redacted” or blacked out huge portions of those records. Ledet didn’t buy those arguments and ordered most of the redacted portions turned over to WWL.

In her judgment, Ledet assessed the city the maximum penalty of $100 per day from Dec. 3, 2008, to January 28, 2009 (excluding weekends and legal holidays), for Nagin’s refusal to respond to the public records requests concerning his e-mails; and $100 per day from Jan. 4 to Feb. 18 for refusal to respond to requests for his 2008 appointment calendar. She also assessed the city for the station’s legal fees — as allowed under the Louisiana Public Records Act.

Not that I really trust the city's IT department to actually retrieve these emails. I think that was a big mistake on Ledet's part to give that job to those folks. Update, 2:05 PM: Schroeder has a point as well: the hard drives should have been subpoenaed. Boldface is mine:

Equally important, Ledet ruled that Nagin’s failure to preserve, maintain and produce his emails and calendar to Zurik “violates the Louisiana Public Records Law.” She specifically ordered that “all calendars and email to or from” Nagin and all city officials with whom the mayor typically communicates “shall be preserved and maintained for a period of at least three years form the date of creation.” She further ordered the city’s IT director to provide a “verified statement” (read: sworn under oath) stating whether Nagin’s 2008 calendar and emails no longer exist or can be retrieved — and that “all available media, including but not limited to Mayor Nagin’s and Ceeon Quiett’s Blackberry, laptop and desktop computers and the city’s back-up tapes have been searched,” and the extent of the search for Nagin’s emails and calendar and Quiett’s emails. She also ordered Nagin and Quiett to search their personal and home computers for the same data — and ordered each of them to produce a “verified statement” if none of the records can be found. If either Nagin or Quiett lie in their respective “verified statements,” they can be held criminally liable for perjury.

She also ordered Nagin and Quiett, if the records cannot be retrieved, to certify in writing (1) that the public records are not in their possession, (2) the “detailed reasons for the absence” of those records, (3) the location of the records, (4) the person who has custody of the records, (5) the manner and “exact times” at which the records were taken from their custody, and (6) “ample and detailed answers” to Zurik’s inquiries related to his lawsuit.

Aaah, hell, just gives us an excuse to further fart in the general direction of City Hall, I guess, if we are so inclined.

So hey, drink yourselves silly, folks! Blot out the Walking Id's...errr...HAMAN's name by making as much noise as possible (think "the secret word" from Pee-Wee's Playhouse) and eat some tasty cookies in the shape of the villain's hat!

But wait...this just in...

According to disturbing report in the latest issue of the British scientific journal Nature, a team of geneticists based at pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. has discovered that a strange set of markers shared by 90 percent of all Jews indicates widespread intermarriage with the Amalekite nation in the Middle Bronze Age.

The comparative study became possible when a team of Israeli archaeologists uncovered an ancient Amalekite cemetery in a lightning excavation carried out in the Gaza Strip under air cover during Israel’s recent Operation Cast Lead. The cemetery contained human bones along with pottery depicting heroic attacks on the women and children of a contingent of dessert nomads, almost incontrovertible proof that the site belongs to the ancient Amalekite civilization. DNA extracted from the bones was used for a comparative study with the DNA of modern Jews.

“Given the Bible’s severe condemnation of the Amalekite people, and its command that the Israelites destroy them utterly, it’s nothing short of surprising to find that the two nations intermarried,” admitted the noted scholar of Jewish civilization and leading intellectual and adviser to Israeli leaders Yoram Hazony. “It will require a major reconceptualization of who and what the Jewish people are.”


Must then eat, drink, and be merry, for I might have to blot out the Amalek within...

Happy Purim!

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