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Former City Council president speaks out on Nagin and crucial vote

NEW ORLEANS, LA. (WVUE) The former president of the New Orleans City Council is back in town for the big NBA  All Star weekend, but he's also speaking out about the conviction of the mayor he once served with, and a crucial Council vote that came up in this week's trial.

"I'm ecstatic to be back in New Orleans," said Fielkow, who is now CEO of the NBA Retired Players Association.

Fielkow, has a big weekend on his hands, giving back to the city he once considered leading as mayor.

"We'll have a big community event in the Ninth Ward at Bush Playground on Saturday," he said.

But on the day of his arrival, Fielkow witnessed the conviction of the former mayor he once served with.

"It's a difficult day for New Orleans in terms of what it means to the rest of the country," Fielkow said.

Fielkow and a vote he and the Council cast for the Central City Home Depot were a key part of Nagin's trial. Prosecutors say the store deal was orchestrated by Nagin to benefit his granite company.

Prosecutors said Nagin originally wanted to charge Home Depot $850,000, the appraised value of city property needed for the project. They alleged that he approved a reduction of the price to $100,000 after Home Depot agreed to give an installation contract to Stone Age, a company owned by Nagin and his sons.

"I do remember the vote, there was a community benefits agreement that was a big part of the development," said Fielkow.

The project was signed off on by the mayor after it was approved by the Council.

"As you know, the tradition is you follow the lead of the district councilperson, and I don't remember any pressure being applied by the executive branch, no," he said.

Fielkow said he had little indication that Nagin was corrupt.

"We had a lot of public policy disputes with the mayor, but nothing ever surfaced to the level of the indictment or the conviction," Fielkow said.

And while he admits New Orleans' reputation for corruption continues to be problematic, it's not unique to this city.

"It's bad in new Orleans, but I live in Chicago, and it's had it's fair share," he said.

While Fielkow is happy with his new life and home, he's not ruling out a possible return to New Orleans in the future.

In the meantime, Fielkow's Retired Basketball Players Association will hold a basketball clinic at Bush playground on Caffin Avenue Saturday at 3 p.m. Former mayor Marc Morial, Jesse Jackson and some of the Harlem Globetrotters will attend. The public is invited.

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