Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice...
Written by Jack Moss
Saturday, 10 May 2008 10:34
Over the last few years, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Bernazzani have certainly made an impression on many New Orleanians. Of course, what kind of impression they have made all depends on whom one asks.
Nearly all will then, in so many words, explain that by rooting out and eliminating several politicos who have ties to, or who have ever associated with, the progress-impeding rogue regime formally in control of city politics, Letten and Bernazzani have made it more likely that “we” may actually be able to live the clean, punctual, efficient, safe, aboveboard, hum-drum lives “we” deserve to live right here in New Orleans, of all places, and much sooner than expected, too.
Indeed, catch ‘em on the right day and some will even admit the special comfort and reassurance the stern tone and substance of a Letten-Bernazzani press conference gives them and share their belief that the pair’s patronizing tag-team lectures on morals, ethics, and public service are exactly what “people” need to hear.
And, while unlikely to bring up the recent allegations of corruption in Letten’s office or Bernazzani losing his post after mentioning his interest in public office, if pressed, they will cite both cases as further justification for their veneration.
Of the possibility that Letten’s office was downright dirty during and after its prosecution of Edwin Edwards, they avoid the specifics and claim that whatever it took to put him in prison and keep him there was (and still is) completely warranted on the basis of the vulgar maxim, “live by the sword, die by the sword.” That Bernazzani may leave the city they lament and pray he chooses to retire from the G-Unit and remain here in New Orleans and use his “special skill set” to help rid the city of what he so precisely calls the “select dysfunction that impedes…”
Conceivably, these same folks would still talk about Letten and Bernazzani as if they were capable of gigging with the SuperFriends even it was revealed that Letten not only looks like a pervert but also is one and that Bernazzani does in fact secretly admire the Schutzstaffel.
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice…
Ask all other conscious, adult New Orleanians—excluding, of course, those too ignorant, too wise, or too wealthy to care—about this toe-the-line twosome, and depending on whether they are miserable cynics or good-humored ones, they will either grumble or chuckle.
The grumblers will immediately refer to the allegations of corruption in Letten’s office and the (near?) violation of the Hatch Act that resulted in Bernazzani’s reassignment as proof that each is nothing more than a hypocritical egomaniac bent on doing the bidding of Rome and the province’s plutocrats, all with no greater motivations than to improve his social cachet and secure his legacy as a nonpareil servant pro bono publico.
Using that comparison as a transition to Bernazzanni, some will groan about how he, like other highfalutin cops, thinks the world of his own intellect and behind-the-scenes knowledge and honestly believes that America would be a better place if only people adopted and lived by his own infallible, airtight ethics code.
Others, though, who know that ad hominem attacks, while fun, are also fallacious, will instead return to his recent reassignment and gripe about how he, or his “management team,” saw to it that an underling analyst, Barry Bernadas, resign from the FBI before even thinking, much less talking, about seeking public office; how one year later he not only talked about his interest in public office, but used his position as New Orleans’ FBI boss and went on a little media tour to make his potential mayoral campaign platform known; and how he must be too engrossed in himself to realize that a tough-talking Yankee disciplinarian (still) has about as much chance to be New Orleans’ next mayor as a gold-grilled native with chee wees.
The grumblers that have any steam at that point will likely sum up their impressions of Letten and Bernazzani with a “same ol’ shit—they’re all corrupt” sort of coda often uttered by barstool philosophers and city workers near retirement.
A select few, of course, fully aware that a fool can go unnoticed as long as he does not speak, will instead just chuckle and leave it at that.
***Author’s note: Within hours of this piece’s submission, Jim Bernazzani officially retired from the FBI after 24 years of service and explained his decision to WWL-TV’s Eyewitness News.
He told WWL-TV’s Bill Capo, “It’s a great job…but after visiting with the kids and speaking to Theresa, I realized, after 24 years, it’s time to leave…I have a thirteen-year-old and a seven-year-old, and I realized they needed their father. And D.C., Washington D.C., even though I hadda a very nice job, is too far away.”
Contrary to what he told various media outlets about a fortnight ago, Bernazzani proclaimed, “I have no intention of running for any type of elected position: I cannot take the pay cut; it’s simple math. I hadda keep my mouth shut while this thing spun. I did keep my mouth shut. Hopefully it’s over. But I will not seek, nor I will never serve, in public office.”
According to the editorial summary of Capo's scoop on WWL-TV's later broadcasts, the former G-Man "wants to work with high-risk kids, hoping to steer them away from crime” and “he says he already has job offers in New Orleans, and he says he’s interviewed for jobs in Houston.”
“Simple math?” Heard dat.
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