Does your social network matter? My own opinion, as it relates to the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal is it fundamentally does as some very hard decisions must be made on whom to prosecute and for what crimes. Before I get into the details of some information I’ve been holding for several weeks now we must set up some very important concepts beginning with cognitive bias which is defined as distortions in the way people perceive reality, and in particular a subset known as Group-serving bias and one of that subset’s progeny, Ingroup bias:
Ingroup bias is the preferential treatment people give to those whom they perceive to be members of their own groups.
Experiments in psychology have shown that group members will award one another higher pay-offs even when the “group” they share seems random and arbitrary, such as having the same birthday, having the same final digit in their U.S. Social Security Number, or even being assigned to the same flip of a coin.
In less fancy terms we favor our friends, our church community, our classmates, our tailgate group or whatever group of people we happen to identify with. This is important because of a “journalistic fact” left in Telemachus’ comment that we featured in part 1:
One is Jennifer Sneed’s role and occupying of a Council seat even though she is conflicted out. Per a 1/14/09 TP article, by *that time the ONLY council member Dutchie had said he had met with was….. Sneed’s replacement, Ron Maestri, who of course was appointed.
Our Jefferson Parish readers well recognize the Maestri last name. Walter Maestri was the man whose famous doomsday plan ended up needlessly flooding much of the east bank of Jefferson Parish during Katrina. Ron Maestri of UNO athletics fame keeps popping up with “interim” in front of his name with regards to Jefferson Parish politics whether he was keeping Jennifer Sneed Heebe’s old council seat warm for Cynthia Lee Sheng or subbing for the now retired Lawrence Chehardy at the tax assessor’s office. I’m told by sources at the Yenni Building that Ron is a big improvement over Mr Chehoggy as he actually shows up for work consistently. It is easy to understand the interim label in the respect that Mr Ron is apparently well liked by most everyone that matters in metro NOLA and a lot of folks who don’t. In short Mr Ron appears to be the mythical honest broker personified.
Hanging with Ron may also have benefits unintended or otherwise. From a reader:
Dave Sherman and Aaron Broussard are best friends. It’s a well-known fact that Broussard lived with the Sherman family after Katrina for several months. Chehardy is Sherman’s long-time law partner. They both are good friends with Maestri and Broussard. Maestri’s son John works for Jim Letten prosecuting political corruption cases.
Now back to Telemachus’ observation that places Dutchie Connick in a landfill meet with Jennifer Sneed Heebe’s interim replacement on the Parish Council, Ron Maestri:
Per a 1/14/09 TP article, by *that time the ONLY council member Dutchie had said he had met with was….. Sneed’s replacement, Ron Maestri.
If that is true then Mr Maestri is a potential witness in both the Waste Management suit and the FBI investigation into the landfill. I also think there is also a greater significance. Let’s admit it, by all accounts Aaron Broussard is a great guy to hang with and folks like Dave Sherman are at the pinnacle of polite society in the metro area. And they are not alone in that social network as folks like uptown Freddie Heebe and his wifey are right there too, dutifully chronicled by reporters such as the T-P’s Nell Nolan.
Can these relationships impact how this case is handled at the US Attorney’s office? Absolutely it can if key players are in da group.
I want to make clear I have no clue what is going on internally in Jim Letten’s office and he may have well erected some sort of chinese firewall for all I know. I do know that each person who works in Mr Letten’s office is a human being subject to and limited by cognitive bias including bias blind spot. I’ll disclose I’ve consistently heard rumors of a split in Team USA over the conduct of this investigation since last fall. Such speculation is the natural by-product of the slow pace of the federal investigation.
And to tie in some prior blogging I’ll add group-serving bias may well also partially explain what happened in Jamie Perdigao and Jim Letten’s relationship back in late 2008/early 2009.
Finally, speaking of polite society I understand Oil Well Radio’s Garland Robinette is back to work after he recovered from his auto immune problem and he is back to parroting Grover Norquist.
As always Slabbed reports you decide.