Considering the harsh political spotlight and the importance of an official’s image, one would think Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s words would have been well thought-out. But in the tradition of many politicians before him, Nagin has left behind a body of quotes that might bring laughter to many and infuriate others. Many of these can now be found in Karin Ocker’s new The Ray Nagin Coloring Book, a book of political commentary disguised as a children’s book.
For Ocker, some of the book is personal. While discussing the city’s struggles with crime in an interview, Nagin said, “It’s not good for us, but it keeps the New Orleans brand out there.”
“I find that really offensive because I have a friend whose son was murdered and they never found (out) who did it,” Ocker says. “There’re a lot of wonderful, beautiful things we can be branded for, and the city is branded for those things.”
In addition to his statements, the book also focuses on allegations of corruption within the Nagin administration. These include a lack of public access to government records and the mishandling of relief organizations like N.O.A.H. Although Ocker believes Nagin is to blame for these problems, she doesn’t think he is alone. “I don’t think that you can point the finger only at the mayor,” she says. “So I want to make sure I’m clear about that. But I don’t think somebody would buy a safety and permits or a code enforcement or city hall coloring book.”
The Ray Nagin Coloring Book is more than a couple of reasons to laugh and poke fun at another goofy politician. It’s a wake-up call for more transparency, accountability and thought in American government. “If we can’t hold our officials accountable and we can’t see what’s going on, then how can we trust them?” asks Ocker. “As long as they prevent us from doing so, they can do whatever they want.”