Category Archives: Crime

THE (FANTASY) LIFE OF RILEY

 Wed, 03 Jun 2009 05:00:19

Someone in NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley’s family must have encouraged him to dream big reach for the stars and all that inspirational hokum. Unfortunately Chief Riley has an alarming tendency to confuse dreams with delusions. Last weekend I was gobsmacked to read that Riley is contemplating running for Mayor. LINK. My initial response was to laugh like a deranged hyena and make jokes about Riley spending too much time in the evidence room. I stopped laughing when I realized that it’s part of a pattern of Nagin-like self-delusion on the part of Riley.

Warren Riley is an unpopular and ineffective police chief running a department that has never recovered from its Katrina trauma. And make no mistake about it: the cops here were traumatized and their leader is a bureaucrat who is as inspirational as a CPA. It’s one of the reasons NOPD is the demoralized mess that it is today.  
 
Chief Riley is now contemplating applying his modest leadership abilities to politics. If he decides to run it won’t be Riley’s first attempt: he lost a race for Sheriff to Marlin Gusman. He ran of course as C Ray’s man and that’s how a run for Mayor would be seen as well. If you like Ray Nagin you’ll love Warren Riley. How’s that for a losing slogan y’all?
 
The last thing New Orleans needs is another Mayor who will surround himself with yes men and overreact to criticism. Warren Riley is just such a man: as his recent dealings with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro make obvious. The Judge is not one to lash out at someone publicly before making the same criticisms off-stage. Indeed Judge Cannizzaro’s complaints about slow arriving (and badly written) police reports and cops not showing up for court have been made by his predecessors. Riley’s response has been indignation and pettiness. He’s always right because he says he is. Hmm where have we heard that before?
 
The latest petty move by Chief Riley involves NOPD Captain Jeff Winn. LINK.  I’m oversimplifying things but what’s wrong with a bit of oversimplification among friends? Here we go: Winn received some good publicity in the aftermath of Katrina and the flood. That in turn made Riley jealous and he began working to damage Winn by using his bureaucratic skills bury Winn and end his career. But Winn has proven to be a resourceful adversary. Riley dispatched him to the DA’s office as punishment but Winn has done such a good job that Riley has reassigned him in a fit of pique at both the Captain and the Judge. Way to go Chief.
 
Back to Riley’s most recent dispute with Judge Cannizzaro. They have profound philosophical differences. The Judge is a big picture man who wants more detectives so that his office can focus like a laser beam on the most violent offenders by clearing as many cold homicide cases as possible. Riley like the fictional Baltimore police chief in The Wire wants bodies on the street and dope on the table as I pointed out a few years back in this post. Chief Riley seems to believe that by asserting that things are getting better crime-wise they are. It’s another delusion masquerading as a dream which sums up Warren Riley’s tenure as police chief quite nicely.
 
Breaking: Riley has cleared the cops involved in the dubious shooting of Adolph Grimes in Treme on New Year’s Eve. LINK. The officers involved will remain on desk duty pending the results of a federal investigation. Hopefully the feds know the difference between facts and wishful thinking; something Warren Riley has never mastered.

THE RETURN OF RENEE GILL-PRATFALL?

Sat, 29 Dec 2007 16:35:07

No the dipshit former Councilwoman and State Rep isn’t planning to run for office BUT she’s been nominated for an administrative position at Dollar Bill U SUNO. LINK. According to a former senior SUNO staffer Gill-Pratfall is completely unqualified to act as director of recruitment and a bunch of other stuff. But SUNO is one of the last places that the Klepto Congressman has any pull and RGP is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dollar Bill Inc. Is this a major scandal in the context of Debrisville muck? No but it *is* a travesty. Plus I love the nickname that I gave her so much that I never miss a chance to deploy it. Repeat after me: Gill-Pratfall.

In other tales of Debrisville muck: former Council Prez and convicted felon Oliver (the Bad Actor) Thomas’ friends held a political style fundraiser for his family. I have nothing against Oliver’s wife but he should have socked away his bribe money for a rainy day instead of once again putting the bite on campaign contributors. Oh well once a pol always a pol…

THE SLOW EDDIE BLUES: SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST

Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:48:36

Orleans Parish DA Eddie Jordan appeared before the City Council’s criminal justice committee yesterday to defend the indefensible; aka his record. Unfortunately some of the usual suspects (no not Kevin Spacey) showed up to defend Jordan on racial grounds. According to his defenders those who oppose Jordan are all racist rednecks which is manifestly preposterous. If anyone has the time to do some digging I suspect that we’ll learn that some of Slow Eddie’s defenders have ties to Dollar Bill’s machine. LINK.

My friend Brian Denzer has posted his reaction to yesterday’s hearing at Citizen Crime Watch. It’s an impassioned hearfelt and beautifully written post. Well done Brian. Thanks for all your efforts to make this a safer city. Please don’t get too discouraged: New Orleans needs your passionate advocacy.

CROSSING JORDAN

Wed, 18 Jul 2007 14:26:28

Crossing JordanSlow Eddie

 LEFT: Jill Hennessy as a cranky teevee ME. RIGHT: Slow Eddie Jordan inept real life DA.

The teevee show Crossing Jordan was recently cancelled and most New Orleanians would like to see the Slow Eddie Jordan District Attorney show canceled as well. I’m not standing up for Jordan: he’s been a bad and even worse stubborn DA. He seems to need remedial lessons in how to pick up the phone and talk to the NOPD. BUT I think one should look before one leaps. What happens if Slow Eddie beats an uncharacteristically hasty retreat? According to my diligent friend Celcus the First Assistant DA Gaynell Williams will replace the man who appointed her. I’ve only seen her on the teevee news from time to time but she doesn’t appear to be the brightest bulb in the lamp. Do any of my lawyer readers have any first hand experiences with Ms. Williams that they’d like to share?

The impulse to see Slow Eddie’s head on a pike is understandable but Ms. Williams is unlikely to be a better DA than her boss: she’s the first assistant so she’s part of the problem. Since Dollar Bill’s hatchetwoman Stephanie Butler controlled patronage at the DA’s office Ms. Williams is one of their peeps. This may be why some on the City Council want to bring in a special counsel to oversee the prosecution of violent crimes in the parish in lieu of demanding Jordan’s resignation. I’m not sure which would be the better choice BUT I’m not sure that creating a new incumbent is the best idea come the next election: Slow Eddie is toast but his replacement might have a shot. 

The *real* problems at the Orleans Parish District are institutional. The mass firings of experienced support staff and investigators at the beginning of Jordan’s tenure have demoralized the office ever since. I know an ex-ADA who was approached for one of the newly created higher paying jobs who declined because she didn’t want to work for Jordan and his minions which is in turn I realize another argument for his resignation.

There’s little doubt that Eddie Jordan has been a disaster. The arguments for his resignation and/or removal are compelling ones. I don’t however expect that he’ll resign or be removed until he faces the voters. Make that *if* he faces the voters. Slow Eddie’s critics need to keep the pressure on but they should also start shopping for a candidate to replace him at the next election.
That’s the end of my stint as the village contrarian; for now that is.

THE NIGHT I KINDA, SORTA MET THE CANAL STREET MADAM

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 05:01:13

How’s that for a teaser? And no I did not frequent her bordello. Get your minds out of the gutter folks. And that means you blondie.

T’was the night before the 2004 Presidential Election. Dr. A and I joined a group of friends,  Romans and countrymen at the corner of Napoleon and Magazine to wave Kerry-Edwards signs and encourage people to vote out the dolt. We all know how that turned out.

At one point I was on the neutral ground across the street from Miss Mae’s bar. There was a tall brunette who a tabloid writer would call statuesque. I suspect that Ashley or Ray would call her something else. Anyway I chatted with her for a few minutes about how horrible Bush was and I predicted that Kerry would win. We all know how that turned out too.
 
A few minutes later someone (I can’t recall who but it might have been Bob, Cookie Tom,  Julie or Jen) said to me: “Did you realize who you were talking to?”

“Nope. But she looked kinda familiar.”

“It was the Canal Street Madam.”

Tagged

DOLLAR BILL’S HOUSE OF CARDS…

Wed, 20 Jun 2007 16:58:38

…appears ready to fall down and go boom-boom after the latest shoe dropped. Jeez talk about tortured as well as mixed metaphors. Former NOLA School Board President and Jefferson ally Ellenese Brooks-Simms had pled guilty to taking a bribe from <drum doll> Dollar Bill’s big brother Mose. Mose Jeff was paid $500K as a “consultant” by a software company and he in turn slipped $100K to Ms. Brooks-Simms.

Brooks-Simms was <you guessed it> first elected to the School Board as a “reformer” and “fiscal watchdog.” So her plea washes away the alloy of hypocrisy that clung to her during her tenure on the board. There’s nothing worse than people who steal from school children and I’m glad to see her hoist on her own petard. But at least she’s not a cheap crook: $100K is a nice piece of change.

This story is reminder of why we have the cumbersome bifurcated post-K public school system. The NOPSB cannot be trusted. Like Ms. Brooks-Simms they all claim to be “reformers” when they run for office but the reformist urge seems to pass upon victory.

It will be very interesting indeed to see who in Dollar Bill’s extended family will follow him and Mose Jeff into the dock. Dollar Bill’s allies (and enemies too) have treated the Orleans Parish school system like their own private piggy bank for years. I think those who steal from children should be placed in the stocks at various locales throughout town to be pelted with rotten fruit and veggies.

Oyster has more on this delightful delicious and de-lovely development. LINK.

LETTEN NAGIN OFF EASY?

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 16:33:18

The NOLA blogosphere’s lone investigative Zombie Ashe Dambala has yet another interesting post. It’s based on the comments of an anonymous reader about *why* the otherwise hyperactive US Attorney Jim Letten has left C Ray and his cronies alone. The information is unverified but it makes a world of sense. What follows is informed (I hope) speculation.

Here’s the gist of the post and my extrapolations therefrom: C Ray was a Republican until running for Mayor. His former aide and ex-Repub State Legislator Garey Forster (who also brokered the Couhig endorsement) spoke to Karl Rove about NOLA politics and told him that C Ray was the best Mayor they were going to get in NOLA. The upshot of this conversation was that C Ray has been left alone whilst they’ve investigated the hell out of the Morial administration which has the added benefit of bugging Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu as you may recall was elected by a whisker to her first term in 1996 and went through a Senate investigation as to whether her victory was due to Morial based voter fraud. A Senate committee chaired by John Warner (R-Va.) didn’t find any voter fraud and Mary was seated.
Back to Jim Letten. In the last few months we’ve learned a lot about how the Bush Justice Department is run. The US Attorneys who did NOT play ball politically were fired by Gonzo and his henchmen at the behest of the White House. Jim Letten who is a career prosecutor survived the Gonzo gate purge. He must have been playing ball on the focus on Morial scheme which also made sense from a prosecutorial sense: the Morial administration was rife with patronage and corruption. In short Letten could have his political cake and eat it too without becoming a complete Bush sycophant and whore. He appears to be a very gifted bureaucratic infighter as well as a talented courtier.
The recent raid on the LIFT production company offices indicates that any forebearance that Letten had for Nagin and his cronies may have ended. The Nagin regime was actively involved in the Treme film studio scheme that may be part of the Federal investigation into LIFT.
As I said at the beginning of the post I’m drawing inferences and trying to connect the dots on this thing. Dambala’s information comes from an anonymous source but it makes sense. I also don’t mean to cast any aspersions on Jim Letten: on balance he’s been a very good US Attorney. BUT career prosecutors are rarely appointed US Attorneys; especially not in the Bush-Ashcroft-Gonzalez years. Letten was in fact acting US Attorney for years after then Governor Foster’s choice Fred Heebe withdrew after giving everyone the heebie jeebies over allegations that he abused his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend.
Anyway it’s going to be very interesting to see how the LIFT story unfolds and how Letten’s office handles cases involving C Ray’s cronies in the future. Jim may no longer be Letten Nagin off easy.
Jeffrey and David have more on this story.

THE FAMILY JEFFERSON

Tue, 05 Jun 2007 16:44:44

It took a very long time due to the FBI’s arrogant decision to raid his Congressional office but a massive 16 count indictment has been handed down against Dollar Bill Jefferson. I’ve skimmed the indictment online and the case looks solid. It seems NOT to rely on the evidence gathered in the still under appeal search.

 Like Maitri I’m a bit sick of the endless Dollar Bill controversy but I do think it’s worthy of ongoing discussion. Jefferson   his family and associates have been major players in NOLA politics for some 30 years. Dollar Bill has *always* been ethically challenged which is why nobody was surprised about the frozen dough in his freezer. His re-election was equally unsurprising his main opponent Princess BOLD d/b/a Karen Carter ran an incoherent and inept campaign which consisted of proclaiming “I’m a reformer” over and over again. Her refrain was unconvincing and her campaign was as they would have said in the 1930’s from hunger.
Back to the indictment: in perusing it I was struck by how much evidence there seems to be against Andrea and the Dollar Billettes. (Sounds like a doo-wop group doesn’t it?) I suspect that the prosecution will dangle threats of family indictments as a means to get Dollar Bill to cop a plea. Thus far he shows no signs of doing so BUT he does have Big Daddy/Pater Familias syndrome: his relations are the only people he seems to care about. He certainly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his constituents. The Picayune has once again demanded his resignation but I assume they know that it’s as likely as C Ray going four sentences without saying man man.
For other views of the indictment check out the TP’s Stephanie Grace Schroeder Oyster and the only person who thinks Dollar Bill will walk Mr. Gloomy Pants of the yellow blog. I’m sure others will chime in soon as well.
 
UPDATE: Celcus pulls out his 12-string guitar and strums up a helluva post about Dollar Bill. LINK.
 
UPDATE TOO: Josh Marshall has an amusing clip up at Talking Points Memo about the Fox Noise Channel’s inability to tell one African-American Congressman from another. LINK. 

PART OF THE MACHINE: BAH, HOMBURG ON NIGHTLINE

Wed, 30 Aug 2006 19:23:43

The once mighty Jefferson machine continues to unravel. Dollar Bill faces a tough re-election fight and probable indictment on corruption charges. His lackey on the City Council Renee Gill-Pratfall was handed her head by Stacy Head. And Dollar Bill’s former law partner and handpicked DA Eddie Jordan seems to be melting down. I’ll get to Jordan in a minute but this post requires a set up. Here it is:

There was a piece on ABC’s Nightline last night about crime in Debrisville. It was called (what else?) Big Easy Crime Wave. I lost interest in Nightline when Ted Koppell was replaced by 3 headshots so I watched the video online after reading about it in the Picayune.

The piece was reported by veteran hardass/hard news reporter Brian Ross. It starts off with some clips of media savvy Deputy NOPD Chief Tony Cannatella. Reporters love Cannatella’s bluntness and brashness: he’s an old school cop with information age skills. Tony gives good sound bite y’all.

Ross moved on to a formal interview with hapless DA and Dollar Bill stooge Eddie Jordan. Jordan was immediately on the defensive: he obviously has never seen Brian Ross’s stuff and/or was poorly briefed. He made the cardinal mistake of losing his temper when on the Rossian grill. His press aide Leatrice Dupre interrupted the interview when Jordan pitched a fit and started ranting about stupid questions. Then Jordan made things even worse by stomping off like a mustachioed toddler. Rumor has it that he held his breath until he turned blue refused to eat his veggies and then stomped on his homburg.

Jordan’s infantile meltdown was entertaining television but yet another civic embarrassment for New Orleans. Hell I voted for Jordan because I *thought* he’d been a good US Attorney. I was wrong. It’s increasingly obvious that his right hand man and replacement career prosecutor Jim Letten was the reason Jordan looked good.

Even pre-K Jordan’s office was a joke. It never recovered from the way Jefferson henchchick Stephanie Butler handled the transition. Butler’s heavy handedness in firing white holdovers from the Connick regime led to the discrimination lawsuit that Jordan lost. The plaintiffs are still trying to collect from Jordan’s office. Talking about trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

GOVERNMENT BY PTSD

Thu, 22 Jun 2006 17:39:30

I was watching the WWL morning news today and they had some guy from the Tulane School of Public Health talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It suddenly hit me that everyone at City Hall has PTSD or at least acts as if they do. Hell I probably have a mild case of it myself; especially this week when it’s hard to be optimistic about the future of NOLA.

Our city government needs less drama and more follow through. Monday’s press event was so emotional that it conveyed the impression that there’s a gangbanger on every doorstep. Let’s not forget that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) considered 3 of the kids killed on Saturday to be suspects in at least 1 drive-by shooting. I nearly spewed when I heard Governor Meemaw refer to them as “these poor children.” I’m not in favor of allowing the gangbangers to wipe one another out BUT let’s tell the truth about what really happened instead of succumbing to drama.

I’m also struck by the weird comments coming out of City Hall about the curfew. They act as if they’re reinventing the wheel which is nonsense and not even good spin. I know for a fact that Second District Commander Captain Eddie Hosli rigorously enforced the curfew pre-K. The notion that we need to wait until next Tuesday to enforce the curfew is ludicrous;  the law is already on the books and there’s a place to house the little darlings. Pick ’em up ASAP.

Speaking of government by PTSD. C Ray remains incommunicado maybe he’s visiting VP Duce in his bunker. Check this out:

“City Council President Oliver Thomas said the mayor had not discussed the curfew with him since Monday. “The community is ready for the curfew to be enacted yesterday ” Thomas said. “We’re ready yesterday. We’re waiting on the mayor and the (police) chief.”

We haven’t caught a glimpse of C Ray in public since Monday. What is he doing? Waxing his head? Once again C Ray’s vanishing act shows why being a professional pol shouldn’t automatically be a dirty word: a savvier Mayor would have rolled out some good news this week to show that we’re not going straight to hell in that proverbial handbasket. I know that C Ray may have PTSD like the rest of us but if he can’t cope he should not have stood for re-election.

I also begin to wonder who is really running things at City Hall. Check out this quote from Governor Meemaw’s statement about sending in the National Guard:

“I spoke with Councilman Oliver Thomas early this morning and I told him that I am in full support of the New Orleans City Police officers and will work to stop this escalating criminal activity.  This afternoon I briefed the mayor on our plans to support the city with law enforcement efforts.”

I’m not sure if this just reflects Meemaw’s antipathy for C Ray or if Oliver the Actor called the Governor to ask for help while the Mayor dithered. Of course Oliver said some preposterous things on Monday too:Are we going to rise up and protest against the thugs? Are we going to march on them?”

A march on the thugs? They have automatic weapons and enjoy using them Oliver. It sounds like PTSD speaking y’all. Yo Oliver we need less drama and more action from you too. This City is being governed by reflex right now as if City Hall were a giant nerve responding to stimuli without stopping to think. We need considered and intelligent action and not brave words and empty gestures.