Green Matters, I take a look at the New Orleans Solar School Initiative (click the link for the full story). This morning, Entergy Corporation, Nike and the initiative's partners formally announced (and unveiled) the nearly $1.7 million effort that's been in the making since 2007.In this week's
Antoine's Restaurant (pictured with staff during its 150th anniversary in 1990) has a reputation for deep-running French Creole tradition and a resistance to change that has made its menu practically a museum exhibit. But some business moves since Hurricane Katrina are giving that reputation a run for its money.
Photographs courtesy of Greg Rhoades
John Georges hasn't officially come out and said that he's running for mayor -- he came just barely shy of saying so on the radio -- but considering his actions of late, you could pretty much count on it. See that picture up there? That's Georges with Jazzfest founder Quint Davis (far left in white jacket) on the back of a car at the head of the Young Olympia 125th Anniversary Second Line back on Sunday. See that bag Georges is holding in his lap? Well they were full of these:
He was also handing out plastic cups and Mardi Gras beads with the same slogans on them. Oh, and GeorgesforMayor.com has been booked, meaning somebody (probably Georges) has bought the rights to the URL and is creating a site for it.
We were there filming second line footage for our brass band documentary and noticed Georges handing out the trinkets. With all the people that were out on Sunday (not sure on the actual count but it had to be in the thousands) I can't think of a better grassroots effort than giving out plastic cups at a second line -- most of which were promptly filled with booze.
Now far be it from me, a humble sports and entertainment writer, to do any political prognosticating. But when someone who has already run for governor of Louisiana is talking about his possible platform on the radio on one day and is then handing out "Georges for Mayor" trinkets on the next, it's a good chance that that person is most likely running for mayor. Official announcement or not.
Oh, and it always helps to have a guy like Quint Davis on your side. That should keep people from making any references to Tommy Carcetti from "The Wire" (though he did become Mayor of Baltimore and then Governor, so that may not be a bad thing).
In a conference committee meeting held today to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills, the committee declined to include the Landrieu/Vitter Pump to the River amendment as part of the legislation. The amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, provided funding for the Corps of Engineers to conduct a peer-reviewed, feasibility and cost analysis study on the proposed plans for permanent pump stations at New Orleans three outfall canals.
Aaron Saunders, communications director for Landrieus office, says the senator attended the meeting and attempted to explain to the House and Senate Energy and Water Committee, that the amendment had the unanimous, bipartisan support of the Louisiana congressional delegation, Jefferson Parish Council, New Orleans City Council and the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. House members of the committee objected to the amendments language, saying they believed it would delay protecting New Orleans. Landrieu countered by stressing the 18-month feasibility study would take place simultaneously while the Corps initiated option-neutral construction of the pump stations.
There are three proposals Option 1, 2 and 2a for constructing the pump stations at the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals. Option 1 would allow for new pumps that would only be used during a storm event when floodgates would be closed, and the newer pumps would work in tandem with Sewerage and Water Board pumps to drain rainwater. Numerous critics of this option have said the plan still relies on pumping water through the designed and storm-weakened floodwalls of the outfall canals.
Option 2 would create permanent, all-purpose pumping stations, used when the floodgates are open or closed. Under Option 2, outfall canals would be deepened and paved, so water would gravity-flow to the pump stations, and some of the S & W pumps would no longer be necessary. Option 2A, or Pump to the River, would provide all of the improvements of Option 2, and would include a plan to add a pumping station in Old Metairie to send water directly to Lake Pontchartrain rather than through the 17th Street Canal.
The Corps has maintained that it only has congressional authority to build Option 1. In a report from earlier this year, the Corps estimated that Option 1 would cost approximately $804 million; Option 2, $3.4 billion and Option 2A, $3.5 billion.
Despite Landrieus attempts to get committee members to understand the amendment would not prevent the Corps from starting the project, committee members chose to drop the amendment. Landrieu says she hasnt given up the fight, adding that todays failure was prompted by actions from the Corps of Engineers.
Todays decision by House and Senate Energy and Water Committee leadership to drop our Pump to the River amendment is unconscionable, Sen. Landrieu says. This move seriously impedes our progress in establishing a truly integrated system of storm surge protection and interior drainage for Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Today, the people in harms way the citizens in Southeast Louisiana -- have been failed once again by Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps arrogance has led them to ignore the unanimous voice of local leaders and residents, ignore public hearings and ignore a vigorous floor debate on this issue. The Corps stubbornness ultimately subverted the House-Senate negotiations and today the bureaucracy won the battle. But this fight is not over. I will work closely with other Louisiana Delegation members in the coming weeks to take this issue directly to the White House and seek all available means to advance the Pump to the River project.
In a recent Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a local grassroots organization has discovered that the majority of the nations population, 54.83 percent (156,615,630 people), lives in counties that contain levees. Sandy Rosenthal, founder and executive director of Levees.org, which made the FOIA request to Homeland Security six months ago, says the rest of the nation needs to realize that the levee breeches that occurred in New Orleans are not isolated incidents.
Levee failure and flooding is not a sea level issue; its not a coastal issue, Rosenthal points out. As exemplified by those poor souls in Georgia, its something that can happen in every continental state.
The number of people living in counties with levees seems to be growing at an exponential rate, at least according to the federal government. At a congressional caucus, Levee Protection: Working with the Geology and Environment to Build Resiliency, held just last year, the accompanying agenda stated that 43 percent of the U.S. population lived in areas with levees.
Thats a huge percentage difference over 43 percent, Rosenthal says.
Considering the sheer number of levees, 883, (In a 2006 report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that at least 122 of the countrys levees were deficiently maintained) and the recent flooding in Atlanta, Rosenthal thinks its time Americans stopped blaming Mother Nature for all of its water woes.
Flooding is almost never a natural disaster, Rosenthal says. Its almost always manmade.
The fire that ripped through the Tropical Isle bar at the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse streets in May damaged more than the French Quarter nightclub.
SURPRISE WITNESS: Greg Meffert takes the stand.
LA TRAVIATA AND A BIG-ASS BEER: Opera makes a return to Bourbon Street.
SHRIMPING SQUABBLE: Jeremy Alford reports shrimpers and seafood processors are fussing and feuding over prices.
ACTION JACKSON: Lisa Jackson, 9th Ward native and director of the Environmental Protection Agency, discusses the Obama administration's proposed "green economy."
FINE ARTS LEAGUE: The ever-wacky Running With Scissors troupe is presenting a one-night-only staged reading of John Waters' Female Trouble Oct. 20.
DOES MEYER MAKE TINFOIL HATS?: The H1N1 vaccine is coming down the pike, and the genius commenters over at nola.com are all over the government conspiracy to kill you and subjugate you to the will of the state with the flu shot. It is "a bio-tech soft-kill weapon designed by eugenicists within our government and pharmaceutical industry," notes one commenter, before going off on the fluoridation in our water. There's also something in there about 666 and Nazi concentration camps, but by then we were off to read Garfield.
AND FINALLY: Enjoy the perfect weather. Humidity (but not heat) returns Friday.
In an interview with The Nation's sports editor Dave Zirin, Saints linebacker Scott Fujita has taken an unusual stance for an NFL player: openly stating his support for same-sex marriage.
If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can't a loving same sex couple tie the knot ... But now here in 2009 same sex marriages are prohibited. I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as every one else.
I hope he's right in his prediction, and I hope even more that it doesn't take that long. People could look at this issue without blinders on...the blinders imposed by their church, their parents, their friends or, in our case, their coaches and locker rooms. I wish they would realize that it's not a religion issue. It's not a government issue. It's not even a gay/straight issue or a question of your manhood. It's a human issue. And until more people see that, we're stuck arguing with people who don't have an argument.
Fujita has spoken out on other social topics before, including Japanese-American interment during World War II (his grandmother, Lillie Fujita, was forced to relocate to a government camp in Arizona in the 1940s). In a 2006 interview with ESPN.com, Fujita said, "Any prejudice has to be unacceptable."
For a few more weeks, anyway. The cinema, thought to be DOA after a change in operators earlier this month, effectively got a stave of execution thanks to the New Orleans Film Festival, explains longtime manager Brian Jones. Quietly, Canal Place has continued screening films to record-low crowds on its regular schedule throughout September. "I would say that we're showing more films," Jones says, adding that Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, which opens Friday, will do so with an extra matinee.
Political consultant James Carville has penned a gloves-off fundraising billet-doux for the Senate campaign of Charlie Melancon, taking square aim at Melancon's opponent, Sen. David Vitter. An excerpt:
After running around all summer scaring people about health insurance reform, Vitter decided a couple of weeks ago to endorse a plan that calls for eliminating all employer-based health insurance. The nearly two million Louisianians who have employer-based insurance should be scared about Vitter's plan: if Vitter gets his way, they'll be on their own.
And don't get me started on his record when it comes to supporting our military personnel. He offers paeans to troops which I sure hope they enjoy, because if they're depending on Vitter, that's all they're going to get.
And, yes, the letter Goes There:
All these qualities would make Charlie an outstanding U.S. Senator. But he's also got one that matters more to me than all the others.
He's an honest man which to me means you can figure out what he's going to do by listening to his words. He doesn't preach family values. He lives them in his more than 37-year marriage to his wife, Peachy.
Ouch. Tell us how you really feel, James.
Vitter is sure to respond; we'll bring you that letter, too.
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