Friday, 20 July 2012 08:24
Blame Louisiana, New Orleans voters for the well-deserved "corrupt" labels
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nagin smallLouisiana is ranked as the most corrupt state in the nation, according to Governing Magazine.  This ranking certainly rings true after the announcement this week that New Orleans City Councilman Jon Johnson will be resigning.

Johnson pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges, steering money intended for a non-profit to a political campaign fund. Instead of helping to rebuild damaged property after Hurricane Katrina, the funds were used to pad Johnson’s legislative campaign account.

 

To Johnson, getting elected to the legislature was his most important concern, while the health and welfare of the community suffered.

Fortunately, Johnson was defeated in the 2007 legislative race, but he eventually was able to continue a political career that spanned three decades by winning a New Orleans City Council seat in 2010. He won despite a persistent and well known reputation for ethical misdeeds. Johnson, like former Congressman Bill Jefferson and so many other crooked politicians in Louisiana, was rewarded by the voters instead of being sent packing.

Johnson is like so many other egotistical politicians who put their interests in front of the voters. It is reminiscent of the Bill Jefferson political machine that steered money from charitable work toward their pockets.  

These types of selfish politicians are particularly loathsome for their ego is the driving force in their career, not serving the community. Ideally, politicians should be public servants, but in Louisiana, the best qualified candidates with the best intentions are rarely elected.

Why do so many crooked politicians appear in Louisiana? The blame lies squarely with the voters, who often elect candidates based on the wrong reasons such as name recognition and entertainment value.

In the case of Johnson, he was elected to his District E City Council post by defeating State Representative Austin Badon. Johnson’s challenger had no ethical cloud hanging over his head. He has served admirably in the legislature and was attempting to move up to a larger position with more responsibility.

Voters in District E should have awarded Badon an easy victory; instead he lost to a politician with a shady past and a future that will now include federal prison.

We can look back to the nine elections that Bill Jefferson won, the various races won by former State Senator Derrick Shepherd and the two mayoral victories of Ray Nagin to notice a clear trend.

When voters are given a clear choice between corruption and clean government, they often choose the worst alternative and are thus responsible for the mess that now persists in our city and state.

New Orleans will have to endure another special election, just a few years after a special election was called following the resignation of Oliver Thomas, another city councilman charged with illegally pocketing funds.

This cycle of poor representation and poor results will continue as long as it is tolerated by the voters of New Orleans.

Voters should look deeper into the candidates before making a decision and demand to know more about their background and their stances on the issues.

It is time voters stopped supporting candidates just because they “know” them.

As we can now tell, we know many of these candidates for the wrong reasons.

 (Photo above: Ray Nagin, former Mayor of New Orleans)

 

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Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at Ringside Politics.

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