To get to C. Ray Nagin's office in the boxy modernist City Hall building in downtown New Orleans, one must pass through metal detectors in the lobby, take an elevator to the second floor, walk through a wood-paneled hallway adorned with framed photographs of mayors past, and engage a pair of secretaries who guard the door to a small, sparsely decorated reception area beyond which lie the mayor's sprawling chambers.
It's a journey that would have been unremarkable during Nagin's first term, but now--more than two years into a second term characterized by intense animosity between the mayor on one side and the press and citizens of New Orleans on the other--it feels like a trip to the inside of a cocoon. Nagin's approval rating hovers in the 30 percent range. His reluctance to appear in public has earned him the nickname "Naygone." Earlier this year, he all but stopped granting interviews to the local media, a dramatic departure for the former limelight seeker who famously implored the federal government to "get their asses moving to New Orleans."
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