Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @dwoltering

NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Nagin pledged a smarter, more efficient, business friendly government.

'I see a great future for New Orleans,' Nagin said in his 2002 inauguration speech.

And he started with strong moves, slashing several Morial-era contracts the feds were investigating.

His investigation of the city taxicab bureau and brake tag station scored a few arrests, boosted his image as a reformer and led him to make a comment that would become ironic.

'We shocked the system when it comes to corruption.'

Nagin modernized the city web site, repaired miles of streets, installed new parking meters and in a move that would haunt him, installed crime cameras to fight violent crime.

'If something happens, they're going to see it.'

But many of Nagin's big ideas never materialized: like privatizing the Orleans Parish Sewerage & Water Board and selling the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

When Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, he got good marks. But no one was prepared for the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and the slow recovery led to widespread frustrations.

Nagin's mouth got him into trouble on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2006.

'We ask black people: it's time. It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.'

Despite increasing controversy, he boosted his black support and pulled off what many considered impossible: winning re-election.

But soon his reaction to criticism of the city's slow recovery led to another controversial remark about New York City's response to the 9/11 attacks.

'It's all right. You guys in New York City can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later, so let's be fair.'

The former mayor did help secure billions of dollars to help bring back the devastated city.

The Mahalia Jackson Theater was back. New low-income housing was springing up and the teaching and VA hospitals were on the way.

But by early 2008, some things were also unraveling, as WWL-TV raised questions about his public schedule.

'You put my personal schedule out there. I am coming back to this station and me and your news director are going to be outside in the parking lot having a good one on one. You do not put my family at risk.'

We know from Nagin's trial that his meetings with co-conspirators from whom he took bribes were blacked out on that calendar.

Eyewitness News exposed corruption in the NOAH program. Questions were raised about missing emails and Nagin's use of his city credit card.

His former technology chief, Greg Meffert, was indicted in a kickback scheme.

The charming businessman who promised reforms was unable to accomplish his big goals and left City Hall under a cloud of controversy and suspicion of wrongdoing.

Read or Share this story: