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'Chocolate City' It Ain't
Mayor Ray Nagin has declined to comment on the 1,700-square-foot town house he bought last year in the Dallas suburb of Frisco City, telling The Times-Picayune that his purchase is a 'personal investment." Nagin's wife reportedly has relatives in the area. And hizzoner has tried to tamp down rumors spawned by his Texas purchase " breezily referring to the house as a 'second hurricane home." Politically, Frisco City seems like an odd choice for Nagin, even for an evacuation. He's a black Democrat whose reference to New Orleans as a 'Chocolate City" racially divided the majority-black hometown he sometimes pretends to govern. Frisco City, meanwhile, is a conservative, pro-Republican enclave whose population is more, well, vanilla. According to the 2000 Census, 87.3 percent of Frisco's 33,714 people are white. Only 11 percent are Hispanic and just 3.8 percent are black. Frisco has a white mayor and an all-white City Council, and many of the area's state legislators and representatives in Congress are Republicans. Frisco residents also donated heavily to George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, and realtors there tout the 'great schools," low taxes and 'minimal crime." The median family income was $84,150 in 2000, and 82 percent of the homes were owner-occupied. The house Nagin bought last year was valued at $167,406, according to the county tax collector. Frisco is located in Collin County, Texas, where the black population has nearly doubled since 2000 " to 6.9 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2006. " Johnson

 

GOP Governors Group Being Watched Closely
The Republican Governors Association has been a good friend to Bobby Jindal in his quest to succeed Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The group has funded numerous direct-mail pieces and spent thousands on a television campaign that belittled Jindal's opposition. Of course, federal law prohibits one from knowing what the other is doing. It's a fine line that is monitored very closely by opposing parties. For example, the Kentucky Democratic Party filed a complaint against the Republican Governors Association on Sept. 27 alleging that Gov. Ernie Fletcher is in cahoots with the RGA. According to the Hotline political journal, media consultant Fred Davis is or was serving both Fletcher and the RGA. And then there's the connection that Democrats are licking their lips about. Davis has also cut commercials for Jindal. In fact, a recent ad had to be retooled when a University of Kentucky logo, possibly from Fletcher stock, appeared on film. If Davis reached out to Fletcher, could the same thing have happened with the Jindal camp? It's a loaded question right now, and one not yet answered, but it will certainly find the light of day at some point. " Alford

 

Taxing Times for Georges
In a televised debate this week, gubernatorial candidate John Georges told panelists that he had made his taxes available for view, a gutsy move for the independent with roughly 40 business ventures under his belt. Whether he let it slip by accident or made the announcement intentionally, Georges is sticking to his word, or at least saying he will. 'John (Georges) hasn't signed his returns yet," says John Hill, his media consultant. 'They are being prepared by his accounting firm for filing Oct. 15." Indeed, it was a rough week for Georges. The GOP is nipping at his heels, perhaps fearing that he's taking votes away from Republican front-runner Bobby Jindal. A direct-mail piece decrying Georges' ties to video poker and cigarette sales went out last week, and the party touted a Web site (www.georgesgonewild.com) that lampoons Georges. The site contains images of Georges without a shirt on, many of which are available on his own campaign's site. Michael DiResto, official GOP mouthpiece, sounded off last week: 'GeorgesGoneWild.com registered 13,515 hits as of midnight yesterday, with early reviews ranging from "a real hoot,' "funny,' and "pretty entertaining.'" " Alford

 

Judge, Candidates Fined
Criminal Court Judge Julian Parker has made headlines lately for chewing out prosecutors who fail to meet court-ordered deadlines. Now, it may be the judge's turn to get jawboned. Parker's campaign recently paid a $2,500 fine for filing a campaign finance report due last year " 203 days late. In addition, the Louisiana Ethics Commission plans to slap the judge's campaign with late fees, which he may appeal, according to Alesia Ardoin, a staff attorney for the state ethics board. The board also took action against three candidates running for the vacant Criminal Court Section A judgeship on Saturday's ballot. Front-runner Laurie A. White was assessed a $700 late fee for filing a report seven days late; that fee is due Nov. 1. Juana Marina Lombard, who ran for Clerk of Criminal Court last year, owes $1,000 for filing a report for that campaign 145 days late. Lombard requested a waiver, which the board declined, saying her fee is due this Friday (Oct. 19). Gary Wainwright, a third judicial candidate, has until Nov. 1 to pay a $600 fee for filing a report six days late. " Johnson

 

Paging Ben Edwards
The Louisiana Ethics Commission says it's still having trouble collecting $8,400 in fines from Rev. Benjamin Edwards Sr. , a member of the Sewerage & Water Board. Edwards formed a political action committee that raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for Mayor Ray Nagin's re-election campaign last year. He was subsequently fined after he filed four campaign finance disclosure reports, ranging from 13 to 61 days late. The board has attempted to serve notice on Edwards at S&WB headquarters via certified mail, but the notices keep coming back, marked 'Return to sender." The board has therefore postponed hearing the case against Edwards, says board attorney Alesia Ardoin. Maybe the ethics board's next notice can be sent 'in care of" his fellow members on the S&WB board of directors, including: Mayor Nagin, who is president of the S&WB, City Council At-Large member Arnie Fielkow and District E City Council member Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who is campaigning for an at-large seat in the Saturday (Oct. 20) primary election. Edwards and his wife last year donated $10,000 to Willard-Lewis' District E re-election campaign. Of course, the ethics board also could just hire someone to attend the next S&WB meeting and serve Edwards personally. The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (Oct. 17) in the board's headquarters, 625 St. Joseph St., in Room 240. " Johnson

 

League Election Guide
It's time to study the candidates and the issues in the Oct. 20 primary election. In addition to Gambit Weekly's election guide this week, voters can check out candidates via the League of Women Voters of New Orleans' Fall 2007 Internet Candidate Guide (www.lwvno.org). 'The guide contains the unedited bios and answers to League questions from the local candidates for both Orleans and Jefferson Parishes," says League voter services chair Linda M. Walker. 'This service is free to the candidates and is available for use by the citizens and the media." The current guide includes Jefferson Parish elections for the first time. Candidates' responses are sometimes surprising. For example, the League asked candidates for a New Orleans Criminal Court judgeship to list any applicable training they may have had for the courthouse bench at Tulane and Broad. Candidate Gary Wainwright replied: '[I] attend Holy Rosary masses with my wife." " Johnson

 

Ag Chief on BET
Fans of the cop-culture television show The Wire and other urban-oriented programs on Black Entertainment Television (BET) may have caught themselves checking their TV remotes recently. Louisiana Agriculture & Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom bought campaign advertising time on the national cable network for September and October. One spot showed Odom drawling with white farmers, while a message appeared reminding BET viewers that the seven-term incumbent took a stand against importing crawfish from China. Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans advertised heavily on BET when he ran for mayor against Ray Nagin. A Democrat, Odom has enjoyed extensive black support in the past. " Johnson

 

Czech, Please
Local U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, speaking recently on anti-corruption efforts to officials from the Czech Republic, said the feds met with New Orleans' first Inspector General Robert Cerasoli, when he arrived in the city. Letten called the hiring of Cerasoli and the enabling legislation that created his office, a 'groundbreaking move." Letten, FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Bernazzani and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Howard Schwartz, who commands the bureau's public corruption unit, all met with Cerasoli when he arrived in town as the new city watchdog in August. Letten, who often speaks in lofty, sweeping superlatives, told the Czechs: 'It is our hope and our belief that this Inspector General will help to ensure ethics in city government by screening and reviewing public contracts " proposed and active " to determine, ferret out, deter and address conflicts of interest which signal or could facilitate compromises and violations of law." Last week, however, Cerasoli was still fighting the Nagin Administration just to get an independent counsel for his office, as well as an annual budget of $3.8 million. " Johnson

 

Local GOP Reps Rap
Bayou Democrat Most of the polling coming out of Terrebonne and Lafourche House District 53 favors incumbent Rep. Damon Baldone, a Democrat who has a 2-to-1 lead in some surveys. Republicans had put a few thousand dollars into the bid of sugar cane farmer Wallace Ellender of Bourg, but that money dried up in the final weeks as the race became a tougher challenge than originally thought. In addition to fending off money from the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, the party's premier PAC, Baldone has had to watch some of his House colleagues back his opponent. GOP Reps. Steve Scalise and John LaBruzzo, both members of the Orleans delegation, have donated to Ellender's effort. That could make for some interesting table chatter in the House dining hall next year. " Alford

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