Sunday, September 30, 2007

To former mayor's brother: Pay your taxes!

Brother of former New Orleans mayor Morial gets plea deal on tax charges

By Janet McConnaughey for AP, via SignOn San Diego:

The brother of a former New Orleans mayor has reached a plea deal on tax charges, more than three years after federal agents stormed his French Quarter home, his attorney and a prosecutor said Friday.

Jacques Morial, 46, was charged with failing to file income tax returns in 2000, 2001 and 2002, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said in a news release. The charges carry up to a year in prison, plus fines.

Morial, the brother of former Mayor Marc Morial, made a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and paid the taxes – about $26,000 for the three years, his attorney said.

“Mr. Morial intends to come in and acknowledge his responsibility for failing to file his tax returns in a timely fashion,” attorney Pat Fanning said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann later confirmed that a plea agreement had been reached but would not discuss details.

The Morial family blasted the federal government in 2004 for ramming open the door in a style of raid more often associated with a drug bust. A battering ram visibly damaged the historic home's door, leaving wood splinters on the sidewalk. Agents carried out boxes of documents.

Jacques Morial sued the FBI and IRS agents in February 2005, claiming the search was illegal. His lawsuit was dismissed in April 2006 because Morial, who was representing himself, failed to show up in court.

The charges against Jacques Morial come amid a long-standing federal investigation of the public school system and the City Hall administrations of former Mayor Marc Morial, who served two four-year terms ending in 2002.

A call to a number for Morial listed in court documents reached a recording saying it had been temporarily disconnected. He does not have another listed number.
Now head of the National Urban League, Marc Morial has not been accused of wrongdoing.


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Move to Cincinnati: Quarterly Report …

We have been in our apartment in Hyde Park for three months now. Our location is great, but the apartment has some serious maintenance problems. We can live with them for the year we expect to rent.

While we still miss the New Orleans area Cincinnati is all we expected it to be. We are taking advantage of the cultural opportunities and are meeting some terrific people in our other activities. I am a volunteer for SCORE and taking a class on “Cultural Literacy.” Susan is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati (UC), joined a newcomer’s club, and is studying German. We work out regularly at a nearby gym, and are beginning to dabble in local politics.

Less fun are the medical tests that we are going through. They are mostly routine for a proactive health program, and are overdue because of the shortcomings of the New Orleans health system over the last couple of years.

We spent a long weekend in Asheville NC, checking it out as another highly recommended retirement city. We are committed to Cincinnati, but keeping our options open.

After two days at home we left for a cruise to Canada and New England. The highlights were visits to friends in Bar Harbor and Boston. We also enjoyed a tour relating to the role of Halifax in recovery efforts in the Titanic tragedy. Freeport ME was also a fun stop.

After four more days at home Susan traveled to Chicago for the funeral of a dear uncle. We are beginning to suffer from the very high cost of flying out of CVG, the nation’s most expensive as I understand it.

Back in Cincinnati, we were guests of UC’s Entrepreneurship program for a night at a Reds game, watching from the Pilot House in center field. Lounge chairs, catered food, and a waitress make this the best way to watch baseball. The Reds won.

Stay tuned for periodic reports of our progress. Our next few reports will return to more news of the recovery process in New Orleans.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We are Portable …

Kilgour Fountain in Hyde Park Square

With Susan’s decision to retire we realized that our retirement home could be anyplace in the world. We quickly limited it to the U.S.

On studying lists of the best places to retire we found that the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area rated particularly high, so we visited it in the fall of 2006. We knew two couples there and met them for dinner. We also spent one day with a local real estate agent looking at condos and planned communities. While we felt that RDCH was a bit too scattered for our tastes the concept of the planned communities, with their “village” feel appealed greatly.

We visited good friends in Columbus and did a brief real estate tour. Columbus was in the running because of our friends there and Susan’s OSU opportunity. Still we were not enthused about Columbus, and decided to add one more stop to our search.

So Cincinnati entered the picture. Susan was born and raised in Cincinnati, frequently visited with her family in the area, but had not lived there in almost 40 years. She contacted a friend at the University of Cincinnati to see if there might be a part-time teaching opportunity, and was encouraged to visit the chairman of the Political Science department.

We visited in late 2006; Susan made her usual good impression, and received an attractive offer contingent on approval further up the organization. On our real estate tour there we found several attractive neighborhoods, and Cincy moved high in our consideration.

We were particularly impressed with the Hyde Park neighborhood, a planned community of a century ago. We decided that, if we moved to Cincinnati, we would rent initially while we got to know the area better and that Hyde Park was our preferred rental location.

Homing In …

Cincinnati soon became our first choice for a number of reasons. It is the largest metro area of the three locations we considered, but its system of neighborhoods makes it feel approachable. It is the most attractive area, downright mountainous for we flatlanders. Its cultural opportunities are numerous and varied. We attended a symphony event before our move, one since, and have subscribed to Playhouse in the Park and Broadway across America.

Once the choice was made, back in New Orleans, Susan began an online search for rental property in Hyde Park. We signed up for one, based on only a virtual tour, and prepared for our move.


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

More Re-Entry Problems …

While we were in Columbus, Susan spent a lot of time at Ohio State’s Political Science department. She often went to lunch with the department chairman, and in one of their conversations Herb suggested that if Susan, after her UNO retirement, wanted to teach part-time at OSU he could assign her just about anything she cared to teach. It was then the fall quarter of 2005.

This offer, even though Susan was not particularly interested, shaded our thinking toward Susan’s retirement becoming her semi-retirement. She felt then that the opportunity would be open for the fall of 2006, and possibly fall 2007, but certainly no longer than that. At the time she felt that her retirement was more than two years away, and thanked Herb for the offer.

The 2006 spring semester at UNO was difficult, given the physical damage to the campus and the University’s financial difficulties. Air-conditioning was spotty. Bathrooms were out of order as often as not. Political Science offices were unavailable, forcing the faculty to work in a “bull pen” that was uncomfortable and distracting.

Susan’s staff was down one person (out of two), and her computer lab was unavailable, forcing her to do that semester’s public opinion survey by the old pencil-and-paper system. Still, her attitude stayed positive because these were thought to be only short-term problems.

Several of Susan’s long-time colleagues thought differently and chose retirement by the end of the semester. Some promising junior faculty took the opportunity to move on.

As the 2006 fall semester began Susan found that her job had changed significantly, and for the worse. She missed the collegiality of the friends she had lost to retirement. Problems she had assessed as short-term were becoming chronic. Teaching had become a chore. The job that she had consistently said she loved became the “job from hell.”

Susan made the decision to retire, effective at the end of the 2007 spring semester.


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Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Shaky Return …

Our return to New Orleans had a few bumps. The completion date for the house in Metairie shifted to mid-January. The FEMA trailer option would not be available in time. We needed to find a place to stay in the area for the end of December and January, and housing at that time was near impossible to find.

We went online to Craig’s List and extracted phone numbers for the few apartments that roughly met our minimal requirements. Among these requirements was that the place be furnished and the kitchen include dishes, etc. Our few possessions could still fit in our car.

We began to call the list with the strategy that we would take the first one available. It turned out to be a pool house in uptown NO. It would be available until the end of January after which it was committed to a long-term tenant. No problem.

Problem. The completion date for the Metairie house slipped to the end of February; it turned out to drag on until the first of April. We heard about a furnished place in the neighborhood, and negotiated a month-to-month agreement at an exorbitant rate.

We also had to buy a car to replace mine, which had drowned. We shopped for a car in Columbus, picked the model I wanted, and got a rough price. I then called a dealer in NO whose price was $2,000 higher than the same car would be in Columbus; he said the demand for cars in NO was so great that he had no reason to offer any discounts. The closest I could find a good price was Birmingham.

We bought some furniture for the Metairie house including a “killer” home theatre. We knew that this was only an interim arrangement so we did not hang any pictures or display any decorative items. It was rather sterile but it was the closest thing to home we had known in the seven months since Katrina.


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