Today James Gill takes a trip down memory lane via a very good column on the history between Henry Mouton, Team River Birch, and former Gov Mike Foster echoing themes found on these pages around a year ago (and then some). What we found is there is really nothing new under the sun as the scam is pretty much the same as it always was, as the Times Picayune’s Stephanie Grace points out today in her column.
So the abiding question these days in journalistic circles, as planted by Team River Birch via lawyer/Gambit guy Clancy Dubos, is how could the payments to Mouton be a bribe if the payments they made to him began well before Mouton held an official position with the State of Louisiana during the Foster Administration? The answer is pretty simple, such question is artfully framed incorrectly. The answer you get often depends on the question so if you ask the wrong question you’ll get a framed answer. Lawyers like Dubos or Slabbed’s original cyber bitch David Rossmiller are skilled at such sophistry.
To the extent I am a seasoned practicing Auditor/CPA that has weird hobbies like speculating in the global financial markets and expanding his knowledge base on arcane subjects like game theory and behavioral economics, I am immune to such cheap mind tricks. The people who trained me such as the legendary Dennis Dycus always stressed the need to “think dirty” when an auditing. Thinking dirty means you evaluate all the risks before you, both systemic risks and those specific to the subject matter. You answer basic questions in your own mind such as “if I worked here how would I __________” where the blank is filled with words like “steal”, “cook the books”, etc. I am confident in my skills so calling out the guy behind a major NOLA media outlet isn’t much of a stretch. So with all that said what is the right question? Simple.
Why would Team River Birch be paying Henry Mouton at all?
For the first time in the NOLA MSM, I saw that question hinted at in James’ column that I linked above. Now lets engage in a bit of conjecture.
James lays out the players and the transition in the permitting process from the Edwards administration DEQ which denied the permit for the landfill to the Foster Administration which gave Fred Heebe and company one via the bums rush. Henry Mouton was a personal friend to Foster before Mikey himself elected. Mouton is what is known as “buffers” just as surely as Dan Robin was a buffer for John Alario when Alario shook down team River Birch for a slice of the pie to get the landfill through the legislature. And as Telemachus pointed out the usual crowd of miscreants were involved around the edges.
My sources on this have consistently told me several area politicians have been cut in on River Birch. We’ve seen political hack Dutchie Connick’s name surface just as surely as we’ve seen Mouton and Alario and that does not count Tim Whitmer’s insurance scheme Lagniappe Industries. This is adding up to lots of hogs on the trough and ultimately the taxpayer teat.
And this brings me to a secondary point that is important because for the first time the NOLA MSM has hinted at the complicity of the Jefferson Parish Council in the River Birch fiasco in today’s Stephanie Grace column I linked above. Stephanie couches the question in terms of the recent special election in Jefferson Parish and how it was a debate that never happened because the political machine picks the candidates and clears the way for them to skate in uncontested.
Oh contraire Steph that debate was raging my dear on blogs like Slabbed and in email threads and other social media in local Good Government circles. It was a debate the newspaper could well have ignited on its editorial pages but the Times Picayune did not take that route before endorsing two self-serving machine politicians that are part and parcel to the River Birch deal. It certainly is easier to go along to get along huh?
The fact is every member of the Parish council is complicit in the River Birch disaster save Lee Sheng, who IMHO is on the council to further her family’s video poker interests. Funny how career politicians like Harry Lee manage to become obscenely wealthy on low six figure government salaries.
Finally to those that wonder why the two brother/godfathers, Jim and Butch Ward are not manifest in the media coverage I have a plausible answer. It could well be both men are not indicted. Old geezers have an easier time winning the sympathy of a jury so their omission to this point may mean Team Letten is making tactical decisions regarding the upcoming prosecution. I have no inside insights there other than my own experiences.
Today we’re seeing some baby steps in the right direction from the Times Picayune. This isn’t rocket science folks.