Friday, October 27, 2006


New Orleans Corruption Watchdog?


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans leaders are pressing for the hiring of a corruption watchdog to send a message that the city can be trusted with the billions of dollars in federal aid pouring in to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

City Councilwoman Shelley Midura is among those pushing for the cration of the office of inspector general. She says city leaders have a moral obligation to lead with integrity.

New Orleans has been dogged for years by cronyism, self-dealing, one-hand-washes-the-other politics and wink-and-grin thievery. At least two people have pleaded guilty as part of a federal investigation of corruption at the city transit authority under Nagin's predecessor, Mayor Marc Morial, and three Morial associates are awaiting trial on charges they orchestrated a plan to rake money from a lucrative contract.

Nagin's administration has been largely scandal-free. But stories of wasteful spending, plodding bureaucracy and fraud have dogged the recovery at all levels.

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