NEW ORLEANS – Grammy-winner Irvin Mayfield’s jazz orchestra appears to be reneging on a promise it made last May to give back the money it received from a public library charity headed by Mayfield and his business partner.We wrote about this phenomenon at length last year. Here's the key point from that post.
An investigation by WWL-TV exposed $1.03 million in payments from the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at a time when Mayfield and his longtime friend and business partner, Ronald Markham, were in charge of both agencies.
Public outrage was strong and swift, leading to the resignation of both Mayfield and Markham from the Library Foundation. Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for the money to be returned, and within a few days, the Jazz Orchestra board, led by Audubon Institute chief executive Ron Forman, agreed to raise the money to pay it back in full.
Again, Irvin Mayfield, himself, isn't the actual problem. He is a symptom of the problem, though. The problem is the post-Katrina ascendance of neoliberal "volunteer entrepreneurism" in rebuilding the "ultimate libertarian city" prescribed by Glassman. The club members who've worked so hard to bring the Glassman vision to life are hard-pressed to admit it, though.You can't really understand the problem by treating one case in isolation. This isn't about one person's theft in particular. It's about an entire class of elitist 'treps stealing from the very notion of the public trust as a whole. Which is why Mayfield/Markham are confident in their defiance. They're correctly gambling that the establishment would prefer to let them off the hook rather than risk upsetting the whole system.