To hear former City Hall technology guru Greg Meffert tell it, its hard out here for a pimp. A pimp for the city, that is.
Thats how Meffert described himself from the witness stand last week while testifying in a high-stakes civil trial. Two local firms initially hired by Mefferts office are now suing Meffert, the city, Mayor Ray Nagin and computer giant Dell for allegedly conspiring to steal the local companies crime camera technology.
So far, Meffert has been the star witness but not necessarily for his own or his fellow defendants cause.
Asked to explain an email in which he told a favored contractor that an industry conference offered a chance for me to pimp your guys stuff, Meffert said he meant it as an opportunity to promote the citys accomplishments which seems equally galling in light of how little the Nagin Administration has accomplished post-Katrina. I did a hell of a lot of pimping for the city, he deadpanned.
Poor Meffert. He took a 50 percent pay cut to take a job that enabled him to help his friend and former business associate, Mark St. Pierre, score a multi-million dollar crime camera contract from the city but, like aspiring rapper DJay in the film Hustle and Flow, hes still gotta get money for his Cadillacs not to mention his yacht, strippers, and some first-class vacations for himself and Mayor Ray Nagin.
No problem. St. Pierre gave Meffert unfettered use of a company credit card, which Meffert used freely to live large during his days at City Hall while St. Pierre held city contracts. Meffert ran up more than $130,000 in charges, including a 2004 trip to Hawaii with Nagin.
Technically, Im not sure if Mefferts relationship with St. Pierre makes him a pimp or a ho, but well let the feds sort that out. Mefferts attorney acknowledges that his client is a target of a federal criminal probe, and he predicted before the civil trial began that Meffert would take the Fifth on the stand.
Instead, Meffert spent seven hours on the stand last week giving jurors and the public a dose of his gigabyte-sized ego and microchip-sized judgment. He suggested that the pay cut he took when he joined Nagins team at a salary of $150,000 a year entitled him to lavish perks from St. Pierre. Then, with a straight face, he compared it to cops working overtime or paid details to supplement their meager incomes.
Asked about the Hawaii trip, which was paid for by St. Pierre, Meffert blithely answered, Good, bad or indifferent, Hawaii definitely had nothing to do with crime cameras, nothing to do with the city of New Orleans. I had this business. I had the opportunity to give him (Nagin) a break. We went up there as friends. We barbecued.
Let me get this straight: Meffert and Nagin sat around eating pani-popos on St. Pierres dime while St. Pierres companies gorged themselves on city contracts but there was absolutely no connection between the two?
If Meffert cant come up with a better hustle and flow than that, its gonna get a lot harder out here for one pimp.
NOTE TO MY READERS: In the dead-tree edition of Gambit this week, art director Dora Sison has done a killer cartoon of Pimp Daddy Meffert to accompany my column. I was out of town late last week and could not grab the artwork for this post but I promise to do so as soon as I can on Monday. Thanks, Dora. Once again, you have achieved Universal Oneness.