A Nagin Victim Speaks
On Wednesday, a jury found former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin guilty on 20 of 21 counts involving wire fraud, bribery, and other sorts of corruption. Most likely he will be sentenced to 17-22 years, according to experts who are familiar with federal sentencing guidelines.
My company, Dulles Airport Taxi, was one of many defrauded by Nagin and New Orleans-style corruption. After Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans Tourism Association decided that the best way to rebuild New Orleans was to rebuild the city's image of being a hotbed of political cronyism and to make the city a vibrant area for tourism. And with the taxicab situation being the way that it was at Louis Armstrong Airport, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce told the New Orleans City Council and Mayor Nagin that they needed to upgrade the taxicabs at Louis Armstrong Airport.
A Request for Proposal was issued, and Dulles Airport Taxi won the bid. However, it was determined that there were unfair bidding practices (meaning that a juiced in local company did not win the bid). A 2nd RFP was issued, and again DAT won the contract. But this time, the City Council, with Nagin supporting the action, pulled the bid, and gave this contract to one of his cronies. The approximate worth of this contract was $25 million.
For the record, Dulles Airport Taxi has won numerous awards in the Airport Ground Transportation Association (AGTA) for outstanding service -- having won their "International Operator of the Year in 1992 and 1998 at Dulles Airport, and in 2004 at Raleigh Durham International Airport. At each airport we have contracted with, the driver's earnings have increased, and the safety record has improved, and the number of passenger complaints has diminished. DAT's safety record is in the top 1% on the East Coast. Farouq Massoud, the President of Dulles Airport Taxi, and Wayne F. Cyron, the company's Vice President and General Counsel, are known experts in the Airport Ground Transportation Industry and have consulted at many airports in North America. DAT is a well known entity in the USA and Canada and Mexico.
Yet our contract was taken from us so that a buddy of the Nagin Administration could get rich. We made an attempt to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisiana, but never did hear back from them.
I am glad that Mayor Nagin was found guilty on 20 of 21 counts. Yet when a burglar breaks into a person's house -- and when they are arrested, if the police can do so -- they will usually see to it that the artifacts stolen are returned to their proper and lawful owner, once the legal proceedings are done.
Why won't the Justice Department do the same thing here? On behalf of the dozens if not hundreds of contractors who were defrauded by Mayor Nagin and the "pay to play" corruption of New Orleans, we do not want Mayor Nagin to go to prison. We want Mayor Nagin, and the corrupt politicians of New Orleans and those who steal from honest people to have to pay us back the money they stole.
Since a potential lengthy prison sentence doesn't seem to deter them, maybe being broke and in debt would?
John Massoud is the Vice President of Operations for Dulles Airport Taxi