12 August 2008

Last Call for Drunk Eddie?

WWL-AM/FM - Audit paints bad picture of Mandeville mayor

WWL-AM/FM - Goyeneche says Price needs to resign

WWL AM/FM - Mandeville Mayor says he won't resign (NOLA.com - Related: Mayor's personal statement)

Legislative Auditor's Report (.pdf)

Lots of links, and I apologize for that, but it appears the shit's really hit the fan for Drunk Eddie. (Warranting three separate stories back to back to back on WWL's website, by itself, is amazing.) The Legislative Auditor's Office has released their report on what goes on in Mandeville city government, and some of it is pretty damning for Price and the rest of the Good-Ol'-Boy Network in charge here.

Areas of concern from the Auditor's Office include the Citizen's Service Fund, city credit card usage...
"The City issued credit cards to the mayor, all department heads, and numerous other City employees. Several of these credit cards are consolidated into one account and are summarized on one monthly statement by cardholder. In addition, Mayor Edward Price, III and Milton Stiebing, finance director, each has separate credit cards. From September 2003 through March 2008, Mayor Price made 620 credit card transactions totaling $56,733 and Mr. Stiebing made 119 transactions totaling $17,210. Of the amounts charged, we noted 65 personal charges by Mayor Price totaling $8,845; 356 charges for meals totaling $36,103 that lacked proper documentation; and 15 charges relating to parties and celebratory functions totaling $6,143. By using a City issued credit card for personal use, Mayor Price may have violated state law."
...personal use of City vehicles and Fuelman cards...
"The City provides vehicles to all department heads and certain employees including Mayor Price. In addition, the City provides insurance coverage, pays for maintenance, and provides each vehicle user with a Fuelman card to purchase fuel. During our review of vehicle and Fuelman usage, we noted (1) the City does not have a written policy on the use of City vehicles and Fuelman cards; (2) City employees, including Mayor Price routinely use City vehicles and Fuelman cards for personal purposes such as out-of-state vacations; (3) the City does not include the value of the personal use of the vehicles as income to these employees; and (4) the City does not mark all its vehicles in compliance with state law. By using public vehicles and Fuelman cards for personal use, these employees may have violated state law."
...improper gifts...
"Louisiana Revised Statute (R.S.) 42:1115 provides, in part, that no public servant shall solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person or employee of any person who has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant’s agency. During a review of Mayor Price’s e-mails, we noted several messages which indicated that people doing business with the City were providing things of value, including golf trips and hunting trips, to Mayor Price, Mr. Stiebing, and Councilman Gerard Coogan. We spoke with Mayor Price, Mr. Stiebing, and Councilman Coogan and some of these third parties and confirmed that Mayor Price, Mr. Stiebing, and Councilman Coogan may have received gifts."
...and the list goes on. Read the full Report for all of it. Needless to say that Mayor Price, as well as a couple of other city officials, seem to be pretty much caught red-handed on this stuff by the Auditor's Office. OF course, after the Report was released, Mayor Price responded, saying that he wouldn't resign. I'd post snippets from his denial, but I'm trying to conserve space.

Fact is, with some of these findings, getting kicked out of office would be the LEAST punishment that could be applied here. Louisiana politicians may have once been able to get away with murder, but that trend's been changing as of late. Don't believe me? Just ask Edwin Edwards, Jim Brown, William Jefferson or Derrick Shepard. They've either been burned already, or are feeling a ton of heat right now. Also ask the current governor. Although he hasn't done anything illegal yet, he sure as hell vetoed the raise the Legislature voted themselves after feeling the heat from the voters, including heat in the form of recall petitions.

In an age of near-universal discontent among not only the disenfranchised minority and impoverished populations but also the middle-class, and of massive amounts of information available to anyone who knows how to Google, politicians can't get away with outright blatant abuses like Price has appeared to do during his time in office. He might even end up as EWE or "Dollar" Bill's cellmate in federal prison.

The first thing he should do when he wakes up is to announce he's resigning. The second thing he should do is hire a damned good criminal lawyer. And please... please, for the love of $deity, use your OWN money to hire the lawyer.

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