He talks about weeding out "legacy" public corruption-that is, "those guys already engaged in criminal activity and who are worried." He also talks about the need to foster a new mindset in a new breed of politicians.
"I don't like doin' it," he says.
Bernazzani nods, and asks for the check.
Lights on the levee
9600 block of Haynes Boulevard, New Orleans East
About 150 people black, white, Vietnamese have climbed up on the big green levee that holds back Lake Pontchartrain for a candlelight vigil. They stand facing the vast blocks of struggling neighborhoods of New Orleans East. Someone dedicates a wreath to "those who are no longer with us," and an instrumental gospel group backs the crowd for "Amazing Grace."
A number of local politicians are here. Walter Boasso, a Democratic State Senator running for governor, said "We haven't lost our hope." It would make for a fitting motto for Boasso, who trails his Republican rival, US Rep. Bobby Jindal, by nearly 50 percentage points, according to a recent poll.
Speaking, too, about the "wonderful and inspiring program," was US Rep. William Jefferson, who was indicted in June on charges of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Jefferson, long the target of an FBI investigation, has proclaimed his innocence.
A comforting breeze was blowing off of the lake, making it difficult to keep the candles lit. After the ceremony, everyone walked across the street for fried chicken and hot dogs. Jefferson, in slacks and a blue dress shirt, shook and hugged on a few ladies, then spent a few moments wandering, awkwardly, on his own. He climbed into a Toyota Highlander as the band played Sade's "Sweetest Taboo."
A couple of blocks away, 21-year-old Specialist Bryan Fusilier of the Louisiana National Guard is keeping an eye on the street. It is dark, and his thin face is illuminated by the flashing blue lights atop his police-like Crown Victoria.
The specialist, who grew up in rural Tennessee, is asked if New Orleans should be considered safe. He answers, oddly, in the third person.
"The specialist advises others to exercise caution when coming to New Orleans," he says, carefully.
He is asked if New Orleans has a chance.
"Specialist Fusilier believes New Orleans may have a chance in recovery," he says.