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  Inside, Nagin's a hero, outside, he's a joke
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ContributorBrandonius Maximus 
Last EditedBrandonius Maximus  Aug 23, 2008 04:27pm
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CategoryEvent
MediaNewspaper - New Orleans Times-Picayune
News DateSaturday, August 23, 2008 10:25:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIn a scene reminiscent of a satirical Carnival parade, about 75 protesters chanted and waved handmade signs outside a posh Canal Street hotel Friday evening while inside a gilded ballroom two stories above them Mayor Ray Nagin accepted the inaugural Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership from an honorary committee packed with his political allies.

Marching in a circle so they wouldn't halt foot traffic, protesters wearing T-shirts, shorts and paper hats sporting clown faces sipped cocktails from plastic cups as they seized on the prize's grandiose title, murky pedigree and unusual timing -- one week before Hurricane Katrina's third anniversary -- to ridicule the notion that New Orleans' top elected official deserves praise for his performance.

"You can just look around the city and see that it's being rebuilt, but it's being rebuilt by us, the citizens, " said M.J. Sauer, a Mid-City home- and business-owner whose neon orange sign read: "Nagin is an idiot."

"This man wants to take credit, " she said, "and he hasn't done anything."

Much of the planning for the protest evolved after news reports of the award program whipped up hostile responses on radio talk shows and among Internet bloggers.

Karen Gadbois, a blogger and community activist who first uncovered problems in a city-financed home-remediation program that now is under investigation by the FBI, handed out golden statuettes to her compatriots, whom she called the real heroes of the recovery.

"We're here to celebrate the lunacy of this award ceremony, " she said.
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