"[I]nstead of breaking corruption's hold on City Hall, Nagin, who became the face of the city in the tragic aftermath of hurricane Katrina, allegedly got caught up in it. On Friday he became the first New Orleans mayor ever to face corruption charges, which consisted of 21 counts of bribery, conspiracy, money-laundering, wire fraud, and filing fake tax returns."If you follow this story going forward you're sure to read about how, running on a pro-business and anti-corruption platform, Nagin relied on support from white and more affluent (read : creole) black voters to get elected in 2002 then made an about face and appealed to blackness for post-Katrina re-election in 2006. You'll also read how his unfulfilled promises made him increasingly unpopular in his second term.
What you won't read in coverage of this story is that the black community of New Orleans was suspicious of this motherfucker way before Katrina ever happened, was unrelenting in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and that this unrest was even expressed in major-label rap songs.
From today's Christian Science Monitor:
"The mayor's once-soaring popularity plummeted amid a bogged down hurricane recovery, and as it became clear that many of his big ideas for the city had foundered. Yet when facing reelection in 2006, Nagin, the grand jury alleges, began doing favors for businessmen in exchange for bribes and political support. One such deal was orchestrated with a building supplies company, where Nagin is alleged to have helped kill a proposed requirement for the company to hire local workers at higher wages in return for the company buying granite from Nagin's family."Bogged down hurricane recovery in 2005 made him unpopular? Then how do you explain this radio call-in skit song from Mannie Fresh's 2004 album The Mind of Mannie Fresh:
Caller: In my opinion, dude, I think you messin' aroundOne commonly held belief is that the government started closing and demolishing New Orleans housing projects after Katrina. In fact, it started in the 1990s and never stopped. Again from the Christian Science Monitor:
And all the projects, why is they shuttin' 'em down?
And what would make you move the people Uptown to Downtown?
Mayor: Well, that's not my department, that's the Housing Authority. Sorry, I can't help you with that.
Caller: Housing Authority says it's you. You say it's them. I think all you sheisty bitches pimps.
Host: Sorry sir, your time is up.
Caller: So you don't know what's goin' on, dude? What the fuck?
"But the indictment also came as a bitter blow to many of the city's majority African-American voters, who had supported Nagin in large part because of his expansive promises, including vowing that New Orleans would be rebuilt after Katrina as a "chocolate city." African-Americans largely reelected him in 2006 despite widespread misgivings about his Katrina response and rumors about backroom shenanigans.Juvenile wasn't buying that commitment to black folks shit. From his 2006 album Reality Check:
"'Whether he was really committed to the interests of common black folks or just woofing is a matter for debate,' writes New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry. 'But one thing was clear even before Friday morning's [indictment]: He did not bring honesty to Perdido Street.
“'There's no need to feel ashamed,' Mr. DeBerry continues. 'Yes, embarrassed and angry that yet another politician has allegedly contributed to the city's roguish reputation. But not ashamed.… We weren't the accomplices, we were the victims.'"
(Talk to 'em) Your mayor ain't your friend, he's the enemyDid you see the three kids in the masks: Nagin, Cheney and Bush? Now don't tell me Nagin was popular with black folks.
Just to get your vote, a saint is what he pretend to be
(Fuck him!) Listen to me, I got the remedy
Save your money up and find out who got 'em for 10 a ki'
So how did Nagin get about 80% of the Black vote in the 2006 mayoral election, you ask? Let Tulane Professor Lance Hill explain:
"So what happened in the months following the controversial evacuation and rescue efforts? I think it’s clear from the people I have been talking to, both in the city and those still displaced, that by the primary, a consensus had developed in the black community: that white people were attempting to take the reins of city government to remake New Orleans into a whiter and more affluent city. This fear was disparaged in the local media as the “so-called conspiracy theory,” but one event after another occurred that left little doubt that there was an open and organized movement to prevent poor people and their neighborhoods from returning.Nagin, having lost the voting bloc that got him elected, figured out the only way to stay in office was to play racial politics:
"Thousands of poor blacks were evicted from their homes. Utility companies dragged their feet on reconnecting black neighborhoods; Ninth Ward residents were not allowed back into their neighborhoods until May. White “good government” groups fought to deny building permits in the flooded areas, which they hoped to bulldoze into oblivion. Jobs that had been traditionally held by black workers, such as roofers and painters, were given to itinerant Latino laborers. And white neighborhoods effectively prevented FEMA from bringing in 30,000 trailers for displaced people, mostly blacks.
"It then got worse..."
"Only one person with the requisite power took a stand against these exclusion policies: Ray Nagin. The mayor ignored the recommendations of his own Bring New Orleans Back Commission and allowed building permits in the flooded areas. He rejected the plans to turn the Ninth Ward into a park and promised to bring back all neighborhoods. While many white uptowners openly told the national media that they hoped for a whiter city, Nagin, in his infamous Martin Luther King Day speech, attempted in a clumsy way to assure blacks that they would return in the same numbers as before – that New Orleans was going to remain a 'chocolate city.'”Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the (overwhelmingly black) poor folks of New Orleans decided to stick with their disreputable brother rather than hand power over to a group of people attempting to forcibly remove them from their homes. You can't blame them one bit, but that doesn't mean they liked Nagin or were under any illusions that he wasn't going to fuck them over, too.
And if you'd been listening to rap you might have been knowing this for years by now.