At a City Hall press conference today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu congratulated City Council for passing an amendment to the city's curfew extending an 8 p.m. curfew for children under 16 seven days a week in the French Quarter and the Marigny. ("I plan to sign this & put it into effect on Monday. This is about keeping these neighborhoods safe," Landrieu or Landrieu-proxy Tweeted this afternoon.)(EDITED TO ADD: The mayor says he will sign the ordinance Fri., Jan. 6; it will go into effect Mon., Jan. 9 -- the night of the BCS matchup at the Superdome.)
Landrieu also said he will support a second ordinance to further extend the 8 p.m. curfew citywide.
The idea for a citywide curfew, which Council will take up at its next meeting, came about after the original, French Quarter ordinance, came under intense fire from the public during today's council meeting and a public hearing last night.
According to media reports, many critics said the French Quarter only ordinance — sponsored by Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer — was racist, in that it ignored juvenile crime problems in many of the city's poorer, often majority black neighborhoods. Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute called for a Martin Luther King Day boycott of the French Quarter if the ordinance passed. (It was not immediately clear whether the group still planned on calling for the boycott now that Council has taken up the citywide bill.)
"I don't think I'm going to miss them," Landrieu said when asked about the boycott. "I'm sorry she feels that way."
But the press conference wasn't about the curfew. It was about football. For the second time in as many weeks, local officials gathered before the assembled media for a combination of hyper-boosterism and preemptive finger wagging/threats of arrest. This is the Convention and Prisoners' Bureau school of press conferencing.
Points: Do be excited about Big Football Weekend. Do be nice to visitors. (There will be many [250,000, Landrieu said] of them.) Do expect to get a full pat-down if you plan on attending Monday's International Event, even if you're a child. Don't drink to excess. Don't not be civil to Alabama fans. Don't pee on things in public.
"Personal responsibility is the order of the day," Landrieu admonished.
"Have a good time ... do not make it down my way," Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman scolded.
"We are the best police department in the history of Earth in handling crowd control," New Orleans Police Department Chief Ronal Serpas understated.