Mayor Nagin's joke not funny to Ike evacuees

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mayor Ray Nagin says he was only joking when he suggested that Hurricane Ike evacuees should request a discount - the "Nagin special" - when they stay at New Orleans hotels.

But when evacuees got baffled looks from reservation clerks, some didn't find it funny.

Nagin's remark prompted a hotel association to send an e-mail urging business owners to make appropriate accommodations in the spirit of cooperation. The association also said Saturday that it is against federal antitrust laws for hotels to collectively agree on rates.

Nagin says in a statement it was a joke and just "my attempt to lighten the mood."

One Texas evacuee told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans that it "was not a joking matter when you're running for your life."

(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)