Chuck Ransdell of M.O.M. (Meeting of the Minds) addresses a crowd of more than 100 at the Omni Royal Orleans this morning. In the background: NOPD superintendent Warren Riley and 8th District commander Edwin Hosli.
More than 100 people turned out this morning for a press conference in the French Quarter organized by Meeting of the Minds (M.O.M.), a coalition of French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny business and residential groups. The meeting, according to M.O.M. spokesman Chuck Ransdell, was not set up for politicos or the police department, but they turned out anyway: City Councilmembers Jackie Clarkson and James Carter were in the audience, and the NOPD sent several members, including Superintendent Warren Riley and 8th District commander Edwin Hosli.
M.O.M. called the event to deliver a petition for more effective crime-fighting services in what was perhaps a familiar list of requests, save one: a request for Gov. Bobby Jindal to provide state police patrols and work with Louisiana's congressional delegation to "pursue all avenues for federal assistance." The group delivered its letter and petition to a list of more than two dozen public officials, from President Barack Obama to New Orleans' national and state senators and representatives, DA Leon Cannizzaro, the New Orleans City Council, as well as Riley and Hosli.
"We don't want to chase them away," Ransdell said, "but 'throw me some beads' has turned into 'give me your wallet, keys and cellphone.'"
The petition lists 10 demands based on "New York City's successful crime-fighting strategy of cleaning up Times Square" -- the first being "zero tolerance for criminal conduct." Others included foot patrols of every block of the Quarter and Marigny Triangle (big applause from the crowd), repair of public infrastructure, repair and upgrade of street lighting, and police cameras (the petition specified working police cameras) placed in the area.
No one from the NOPD spoke, but Clarkson requested the chance to address the crowd. After a bit of discussion, the group gave her the mic. "You're right on target on what needs to be done," she said, offering to work as a liaison between M.O.M. and police officials.
Signatories on the petition:
Chuck Ransdell, chair, Meeting of the Minds
Eric Reitman, president, French Quarter Business Association
CoCo Paddison, president, French Quarter Citizens
Jude Marullo, president, Bourbon Street Merchants Association
Chris Costello, president, Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association
Lori Herbert, vice-chair, North Rampart Main Street
Samara Poché, president, Lower Quarter Crime Watch
Ken Ferdinand, executive director, French Market Corporation
Darryl Berger, senior chair, French Quarter-Marigny Historic Area Management District
Mike Moffit, president, Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates
Christine Sory, president, French Quarter Business Women's Network
Beth Lovett, representative, Upper Quarter Neighborhood Watch
Stephen Swain, president, Patio Planters
Jason Patterson, chair, Frenchmen Street Coalition
The meeting broke up after a few questions from the crowd, the most pertinent being from a woman who wanted to know how M.O.M. intended to follow up its petition and letter with action. Ransdell simply said, "We're not going to go away."
After the meeting, Ransdell added that M.O.M. would be meeting with Riley and members of the NOPD tomorrow, and that the group was taking up Clarkson on her offer to be a liaison to whomever she could...but he wasn't hopeful about her ability to set up a meeting with Mayor Nagin.
"I don't know if she can get us into the mayor's office," he said. "I think I'm on his shit list."