Oliver Thomas *Is* A Rat
So after getting popped taking kickbacks and faux-repenting for a lapse in judgment, former Councilman Oliver Thomas this week revealed his true colors as just another petty self-serving thug who cares only for himself and his fellow thugs — the rest of the New Orleans community be damned.
When Thomas first admitted to using his public office to enrich himself and hook up his friends, he stated: “I fundamentally believe the ethics in this community and the culture in this community has to change.”
Apparently fundamental beliefs don’t run very deep in Thomas’ world because now we learn that Thomas met twice with authorities and, during the second meeting, “indicated he did not wish to ‘rat’ on anyone and that his father and aunt did not wish him to be a ‘rat.'”
So . . . the ethics in this community and the culture in this community absolutely have to change — but Thomas isn’t man enough to act on this “fundamental belief.”
When news of Thomas’ indictment first surfaced, we were flooded with stories about what a great person “Oliver” is and how this was such a sad moment and how a single lapse in judgment had brought down an otherwise good man. Where are those voices today?
At the time, I held my tongue; maybe I have old fashioned notions about not kicking a man when he is down. But anyone who still thinks Oliver Thomas hasn’t been an integral part of the problem in New Orleans for many years isn’t paying attention.
If anyone is interested in understanding the level of corruption and its history, here are some questions that might lead in fruitful directions:
Why did the developers of the never-built Albertson’s Grocery in Central City (Thomas’ district) give equity shares of the project to two ministers in the neighborhood without the ministers putting up any money?
Is it true that the developers were told by Oliver Thomas that without buy-in from the ministers the project would not move off square one?
Were city funds use to move houses from the proposed site of the grocery to land owned by the ministers churches? Were additional city funds used to then renovate the houses?
What is the relationship between Oliver Thomas (and Jim Singleton before him) to the Central City Economic Development Corp and what sort of accounting can be made of the city funds transfered to this organization over several decades?
What is the relationship between BOLD, the political machine that put Singleton and Thomas into power, and the Dryades YMCA?
Why did the Dryades YMCA mysteriously burn down the last time someone began inquiring about its funding?
Why has Brown’s Diary been allowed to purchase and demolish homes, purchase and close city streets, and expand industrial uses in a residential area?
I don’t have answers to all these questions but I have long thought that serious investigation into any one of them would lead to interesting interconnections. I tried in vain for several years to get Coleman Warner, Bruce Egler, or the editors at the Times-Picayune to ask these questions. Apparently when you have a monopoly market, there is little incentive for serious journalism.
So I’ll just stick these thoughts up here on the web. Post-Federal Flood I often run into motivated and enthusiastic bloggers and budding Woodward & Bernstein’s. Many have the smarts required to tease out the intricate web of connections in this kind of stuff — but it takes time and dedication. This isn’t the kind of thing a blog post can unravel. This will take research and feet on the street.
Who knows, maybe Jim Letten will stumble across this. He knows people who can figure this out.
Convicted felon Thomas was right about one thing, the ethics in this community and the culture in this community have to change. Unfortunately, by his actions Thomas merely provides one more example of the mentality of the playground prevailing over the norms of civil society.