Wednesday, March 22, 2006



by Jeff Crouere

During his tenure as Mayor, citizens have seen costly deals that rewarded close associates of his Chief of Staff. For example, the city chose a company with close connections to former Chief of Staff Charles Rice to operate an advertising campaign for all the city’s trash cans. It became clear the lowest bidder with the best deal for New Orleans did not win the contract.

The city has bestowed contract after contract to out of town firms for services that in-town companies were likely to perform for a better price with better service. We gave millions to out-of-state technology firms to upgrade equipment and communications at City Hall, whereas local firms were ignored. In recent weeks, Nagin chose a California firm to sell Mardi Gras sponsorships to the corporate world. Incredibly, only one sponsor was found, Glad Trash Bags, at a minimal sponsorship. Local firms knew the celebration much better and would have been far superior at selling it to the corporate world. First on the list of prospective sponsors should have been all of the major companies with lucrative post-Katrina contracts in New Orleans. How about Shaw Group? How about CH2M Hill?

CH2M Hill has scored several pricey contracts with the City of New Orleans, including an incredible $23 million deal to remove flooded automobiles from throughout New Orleans. In contrast, a Texas firm had offered to pay the city $5 million for the opportunity to remove all of the flooded cars; however, no one in city government responded to their numerous inquiries. K&L Auto Crushers offered back in October to pay the city $100 for each car it removed. With 50,000 abandoned cars, it would have netted New Orleans $5 million and the company promised to finish their work in 15 weeks. Tragically, it will take CH2M Hill 26 weeks to do the job and it will cost millions, not make millions for the city.

So, here we have another suspect deal, coming on the heels of so many questionable post-Katrina contracts where the citizens of New Orleans are made to pay more for incomplete services. It is politics as usual and financial mismanagement of the worst degree. I thought New Orleans had elected a businessman who knew how to provide a positive financial return? Obviously, his track record shows just the opposite.

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