Ray Nagin's Dallas Daze

In the June issue of Vanity Fair is a riveting excerpt from Douglas Brinkley's forthcoming book The Great Deluge, which chronicles in horrific detail how New Orleans drowned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and just who let it happen. One of the leading suspects is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who's trying to keep his job despite doing a lousy one last August and September.

The revered Tulane University historian Brinkley portrays Nagin as a paranoid, bumbling leader who hid out in a high-rise hotel (across from the Superdome) after the hurricane and cursed out the president and other federal officials during a meeting aboard Air Force One. But among the most damning incidents in the Vanity Fair excerpt is this detail about Nagin's decision, on September 7, to move to Dallas, where he rented a house. It was a move that infuriated Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and appalled everyone else left in New Orleans.

"In [New Orleans Police Department] circles, Nagin's handle over the police radio had been 'New Orleans One.' Now, furious that Nagin had abanonded them---and had secured a home while New Orleans was underwater--some in the police force dubbed him 'Dallas One.' A few officers even made 'Dallas One' signs as a protest, posting them around the makeshift Sixth District headquarters at the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street. 'I pulled the signs down,' police superintendent Eddie Compass recalled. 'I told the guys it just wasn't good for the city.'"

How is it this guy even has a chance at being re-elected? --Robert Wilonsky

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