"School Bus" Nagin hit with 21 corruption charges

Reuters brings us the sad finale to the colorful career of one of the many Democrats who had absolutely nothing to do with the Hurricane Katrina disaster, because it was all George Bush’s fault:

A federal grand jury on Friday charged Ray Nagin, the former New Orleans mayor who denounced the federal government response to Hurricane Katrina, with 21 counts of public corruption over dealings with city vendors after the disaster.

The charges followed months of investigation by federal prosecutors, who reached agreements with several former associates of Nagin to provide evidence against him.

Nagin, who served as mayor from 2002-2010, stirred national controversy after the powerful hurricane broke local flood walls and inundated most of the city in 2005, killing some 1,500 people and wrecking tens of thousands of homes.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Nagin told federal officials to “get off your asses” as thousands of people who had been forced from their homes waited for help.

Oh, is that what “stirred national controversy” about Ray Nagin?  Here’s the context for that remark, courtesy of Newsmax:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin garnered a ton of publicity with a profanity-laced interview he gave to WWL radio last Thursday, where he blasted President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for not coming to rescue his city in time.

However, Nagin’s most newsworthy comments – where he explained why he didn’t use hundreds of city school buses to evacuate his city’s flood victims – went almost unnoticed.

Turns out, Nagin turned his nose up at the yellow buses, demanding more comfortable Greyhound coaches instead.

“I need 500 buses, man,” he told WWL. “One of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here.”

Nagin described his response:

“I’m like – you’ve got to be kidding me. This is a natural disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.”

While Nagin was waiting for his Greyhound fleet, Katrina’s floodwaters swamped his school buses, rendering them unusable.

Nagin later outraged health-food activists by demanding that New Orleans be rebuilt using chocolate.  That’s a really offensive idea, when America is battling an obesity epidemic, and the First Lady is forced to advocate feeding our overweight children school lunches comprised of nothing but hibiscus leaves and drywall.  Wait, maybe I’m missing some context from Nagin’s “chocolate New Orleans” remark.  Help me out here, Reuters!

In a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2006, Nagin, who is black, said: “It’s time for us to rebuild … a chocolate New Orleans,” adding that “This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be.”

Oh, right, now I remember.  What has this inspiring, unifying political figure been up to since then?

The 21 counts include allegations of bribery including receiving kickbacks for city contracts, wire fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

The government secured a key witness in November when businessman Rodney Williams admitted that he gave payments totaling $60,000 in 2008 to an unnamed public official in return for city contracts steered to Williams’ engineering firm, according to court documents.

Williams also said he paid $10,000 to close family members of the public official, who were not identified by name.

Last June, businessman Frank Fradella pleaded guilty to bribing an unnamed public official with $50,000 in cash and “truckloads” of free granite delivered to a granite countertop installation company owned by the official.

Nagin and his sons, Jeremy Nagin and Jarin Nagin, owned a countertop company called Stone Age LLC.

When asked by reporters if the unnamed public official was Nagin, Fradella’s lawyer Randall Smith repeatedly said: “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

But I’ll bet it plea-bargains like a pro.