But the indictment also came as a bitter blow to many of the city's majority African-American voters, who had supported Nagin in large part because of his expansive promises, including vowing that New Orleans would be rebuilt after Katrina as a "chocolate city." African-Americans largely reelected him in 2006 despite widespread misgivings about his Katrina response and rumors about backroom shenanigans.
"Whether he was really committed to the interests of common black folks or just woofing is a matter for debate," writes New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry. "But one thing was clear even before Friday morning's [indictment]: He did not bring honesty to Perdido Street.
“There's no need to feel ashamed,” Mr. DeBerry continues. “Yes, embarrassed and angry that yet another politician has allegedly contributed to the city's roguish reputation. But not ashamed.… We weren't the accomplices, we were the victims."
The mayor's once-soaring popularity plummeted amid a bogged down hurricane recovery, and as it became clear that many of his big ideas for the city had foundered. Yet when facing reelection in 2006, Nagin, the grand jury alleges, began doing favors for businessmen in exchange for bribes and political support. One such deal was orchestrated with a building supplies company, where Nagin is alleged to have helped kill a proposed requirement for the company to hire local workers at higher wages in return for the company buying granite from Nagin's family.
Past New Orleans mayors may have barely escaped trading in their mayoral terms for jail terms, but the city has seen a city councilor, school board members, a congressman, and even a governor all convicted on corruption charges in the last 15 years.
In the end, however, the sum of Nagin's mayoral failures and alleged backroom deals just became too blatant and public for authorities to ignore.