New Orleans' Top 50 Newsmakers of the Year! - Topix
New Orleans' Top 50 Newsmakers of the Year!
Kevin Allman breaks down the biggest stories of 2012
New Orleans has always had its own trends, newsmakers and obsessions. This year, it seemed our civic life was bookended by scandals, beginning with the New Orleans Saints bounty revelation and investigation and ending with U.S. Attorney Jim Letten stepping down.
FACT: Several Members of the “LOUISIANA BLOGGERS CLUB actually made the New Orleans Top 50 Newsmakers of the Year List.
Back in July, the councilman from District E abruptly pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to convert federal funds and to file a false statement with a government agency," stepping down from the council as he did so. The longtime 9th Ward pol admitted to using FEMA funds to prop up his 2007 campaign for the state Senate. Ray Nagin
Well, hello, Public Official A. As the year wound to a close, all eyes were on the federal courthouse downtown, where an indictment of the former mayor is said to be imminent. About a half-dozen former associates of his former honor have already pleaded guilty to a variety of charges — some of which include paying bribes to "Public Official A" at City Hall to influence the award of public contracts — and all are expected to cooperate with the feds in a case against Nagin. Bill Jefferson
In May, former U.S. Rep. William Jennings Jefferson finally reported to a low-security federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, to begin serving a 13-year sentence on charges of bribery and public corruption. It was a spectacular fall for a man who escaped a background of poverty in East Carroll Parish to attend Harvard Law School and become the state's first black congressional representative in more than 100 years. Jim Letten
The Fallen Fed
When Letten stepped down in December, he had served nearly 11 years as head of the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans. He oversaw a string of successful political prosecutions that made him one of the city's most popular public servants. Though Letten gave no reason for the resignation, it came shortly after two of his top lieutenants — Sal Perricone and Jan Mann — were exposed for popping off anonymously in the comments section of NOLA.com. They left as well, as did Mann's husband, Jim Mann. Jason Cantrell
Bad: Having a joint fall out of your pocket. Worse: Having it happen in court. Worser: Having it happen when you're an assistant city attorney. Worsest: Having your wife running for City Council at the time. After some confusion over whether Cantrell would resign from the city (he eventually did), his wife LaToya Cantrell weathered the storm and went on to a runoff and an eventual win in the City Council District B race.
Jason Giroir The Commenter
After the February shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida, NOPD officer Jason Giroir posted a message — "Act like a Thug Die like one!" — on WWL-TV's website. Both NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas and Mayor Mitch Landrieu made clear their disapproval, and Giroir subsequently resigned from the force. The incident raised questions about conduct on news comment boards — and it wouldn't be the only time that practice got someone into trouble this year.
In one of the year's four cases of online comments getting someone in trouble, Traina — a psychologist who worked with schoolchildren in Jefferson Parish public schools — drew fire from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and civil rights groups after comments on NOLA.com and Twitter. Traina said young black male criminals need to be "put down like the Dogs they are!" and said he was a "Wallace Man at Heart," referring to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace. The SPLC filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Traina resigned in late May.