Moderator: Clancy DuBos, Gambit Weekly, WWL-TV
Panelists: Dr. Andre Perry, University of New Orleans, CEO of UNO Charter Schools
Charles Rice: Nagin Chief Adminstrative Officer, 2003-2005
Bill Rouselle: Political Consultant for Nagin’s 2006 campaign
Kenya Smith: Nagin aide
Raised in the 7th ward, Treme, and Algiers, Ray Nagin won election in 2002 with promises of a businessman’s approach to government. In his first term, he took measures intended to improve technology and bureaucracy at City Hall, battle corruption, and attract jobs to the city. The devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina presented the mayor with one of American history’s greatest governmental challenges. Mayor Nagin became a national figure during and after the storm, with controversial statements on the disaster and the future of the city and the response of state and US officials. Declaring a market-driven approach to rebuilding the city’s neighborhoods and the need for continuity, he won a hard-fought reelection in 2006. Throughout his second term, Nagin has clashed with City Council and the media, and continued to be a lighting rod for local and national observers, fighting a resurgence of crime and the storm-inflicted prevalence of blighted property. As his administration ends, the City battles a budget crunch, racial divisions in the political realm, the indictments of former City vendors, and the ongoing demands of the recovery.Watch a video of the panel on C. Ray Nagin, January 13, 2010 at the Louisiana Humanities Center
March 2, 2002: Defeats Police Superintendent Richard Pennington with 59% of runoff vote.
July 2002: Anti-corruption efforts lead to 84 low-level city bureaucrats, brake-tag inspectors and illegally licensed cab drivers being rounded up. Subsequent investigations lead to the dismantling of the city’s Utilities Department.
February 2003: Re-organizes city government, reducing the number of departments and offices overseen by the Chief Administrative Officer.
April 2004: Declares an end to efforts to privatize the Sewage & Water Board, an initiative first begun under the Morial administration in 1999.
November 2004: Voters approve $260million bond issue for street repair and infrastructure, at the time the biggest City Hall bricks-and-mortar program in history.
August 29th, 2005: Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. Levee breaches lead to the flooding of 80% of the city. Across the Gulf South, more than 1800 people lost their lives. As flood waters rise, the mayor takes to the airwaves to implore the nat’l govt. for help.
September 23-24th, 2005: Hurricane Rita strikes Louisiana /Texas border region. Some repaired levees in New Orleans breach again, re-flooding Lower Ninth Ward and adjacent areas.
September 28th: Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigns. As the NOPD slipped into crisis, Compass’s comments to the media had fueled unfounded rumors of rampaging gangs and savagery. Nagin names Warren Riley as acting superintendent.
October 5th, 2005: Residents permitted to reenter city except Lower Ninth Ward.
January 2006: Nagin-convened Bring Back New Orleans Commission unveils initial recommendations for mayor, LRA, federal officials, and public. Plans to shrink the city’s footprint lead to charges of racism and land-grabbing. Mayor Nagin rejects the Commission’s recommendations, promising a laissez-faire approach to “let people decide for themselves and government will follow.”
January 16, 2006: Delivers “Chocolate City” speech during a program at City Hall commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.
April 22, 2006: wins 289 of 442 precincts for 38% of the vote. In a stark turnabout, he receives 6% of the white vote, compared to 85% in 2002.
May 20, 2006: Defeats Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu in runoff, 52% to 48%. Over 10,000 votes were cast from satellite polls in nine parishes.
January 2007: Names Dr. Ed Blakely the Executive Director of Recovery Management. Blakely is given control over administrating projects and negotiating for federal funds. He promises “cranes in the sky” by September.
January 11, 2007: the murders of filmmaker Helen Hill and musician Dinerral Shavers inspire a protest march on City Hall against the wave of post-Katrina violent crime.
October 30, 2007: District Attorney Eddie Jordan resigns in wake of judgment against his office in a discrimination suit brought by former white employees.
December 20, 2007: City Council approves the demolition and redevelopment of CJ Peete, St. Bernard, BW Cooper, and Lafitte projects. Scuffles brea kout inside and outside of City Hall. Nagin approves demolition.
December 2007: City and state order clearing of homeless encampment in Duncan Plaza across from City Hall. The encampment reforms under the Canal-Claiborne overpass, eventually cleared in March 2008. The issue of homelessness continues to plague post-Katrina New Orleans.
August 2008: Federal prosecutors raid the offices New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corp (NOAH), the city-chartered nonprofit agency created to eradicate blight. Press reports accuse NOAH of abusing a federally financed program.
August 2008: Hurricane Gustav presents the first storm threat since Katrina. The city is successfully evacuated and suffers little damage.
November 2008: Voters approve change to City Charter giving a future “master plan” the force of law.
March 2009: Sanitation Chief Veronica White releases City Council’s emails to a lawyer, marking a low point in Council relations with the Administration.
July 1, 2009: Blakely steps down as recovery chief. He makes news in later months with comments critical of the city’s race relations and prospects.
August 3, 2009: The U.S. Attorney’s office issues a subpoena for the mayor’s missing e-mails, part of an investigation focused on the city’s crime cameras.
November 2009: former City Technology Chief Greg Meffert and former vendor Mark St. Pierre indicted on corruption charges centering on contracts for the crime cameras. Records show that the mayor took vacations with Meffert on a credit card provided by St. Pierre’s company.