Robert Cerasoli must love challenges. That, or heâ€™s dumber than a bag of hammers. If you donâ€™t already know, Mr. Cerasoli came from Boston, Massachusetts, down to New Orleans â€“ my hometown – to become the Cityâ€™s first-ever Inspector General. Thatâ€™s the guy that finds corruption and malfeasance in government. Not that he will have far to look, mind you â€“ this it the city that recently gave us â€œDollar Billâ€ Jefferson and Oliver Thomas, to name but a few. His job should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But when Mr. Cerasoli started work last week he found he had a small problem.
The problem? Mr. Cerasoli didn’t have (to continue the metaphor) a barrel of fish to shoot. Or any ammunition. Or even a gun. When the new Inspector General of the City of New OrleansÂ went to startÂ work, the City hadÂ provided him nothing at all: no office space, no desks, no staff, no operating budget. And no real attempt to rectify the situation. Right now he uses his cell phone, works out of a school office, and has to bum rides around town.
Is there any wonder why a Congressman would say this about dumping more Katrina aid into the Crescent City? You almost have to admire Ray Nagin and the City Council on this one – what a great way for the City to claim it is doing something about corruption without really, well, doing anything about it. What chutzpa.
Normally, I would let this pass with another shake of the head and aÂ silent wisperÂ of â€œItâ€™s New Orleansâ€¦.â€, were it not for one thing: Me and Mr. Cerasoli have something in common â€“ Boston. I lived there for seven years before coming back to Louisiana, and I think of it as my second hometown. So when I see someone from my second hometown trying to clean up my first, well, I owe the man. I donâ€™t want him to think weâ€™re all a bunch of dolts down here.
A commenter at my blog said he would buy Mr. Cerasoli a lamp if it would help, which got me thinking – if the City of New Orleans will not get Mr. Cerasoli going, maybe we (you know, â€œthe peopleâ€) should pitch in. I donâ€™t think we can raiseÂ his $3.5 million operating budget, but maybe we can put in for some office furnishings and the like, and maybe embarrass the City Council and the Mayor into taking some positive action. (OK, maybe not the Mayor.Â Nothing, not even himself, seems to embarrass Ray Nagin…)
We need ot letÂ let Mr. Cerasoli know that we appreciate his being down here, even if the City government in New Orleans does not. If any of you are interested in contributing to a Help The Inspector General Fund, post a pledge in the comments section or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Naked Emperor is in for a lamp.
Red Stick Rant is in $100 in office supplies. Â And a dart board with Paul Cellucci’s picture on it. (Mr. Cerasoli will understand.)