Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our “no-go” governor

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:28 AM

In any state budget crisis, citizens and lawmakers would expect the governor to be working hard to figure out ways to raise money or responsibly trim the sails of government, or both. That’s what real governors do. Unfortunately, Louisiana’s budget gap for the 2015-2016 fiscal year dwarfs any that has come before it — $1.4 billion and growing. And while Gov. Bobby Jindal is indeed figuring out ways to scare up large sums of money, he’s not doing it for the state. He’s doing it for himself.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

What Bobby Jindal has stolen

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 11:49 AM


Term-limited state lawmakers may turn out to be the lucky ones next fall. They won’t have to explain to voters why they went along with Bobby Jindal’s fiscal insanity and cut more than $700 million from Louisiana’s public colleges and universities over the past seven years. Heck, the cuts could exceed $1 billion by Election Day, particularly since Jindal seems predisposed to do nothing in the face of a projected $1.4 billion budget gap.

Well, not quite nothing — he is laying the groundwork for a quixotic presidential run. I’m not sure how he’s going to explain $1 billion in cuts to higher education, especially when he’s touting himself as the savior of public education in Louisiana. Then again, the national media rarely look beyond press releases, and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have no clue what a liar Jindal is.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2015 "Budgeting for Outcomes" meetings to begin next week in each council district

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu (left) and New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas will attend the annual "Budgeting for Outcomes" meetings in each City Council district, which begin next week with District C. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu (left) and New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas will attend the annual "Budgeting for Outcomes" meetings in each City Council district, which begin next week with District C.

Wondering when New Orleans would announce the annual "Budgeting for Outcomes" meetings in each City Council district? They begin next week with District C (Aug. 18) and will continue through Aug. 27 (District D).

In a press release from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office, Landrieu stated, “Four years ago, we started these meetings to ensure that the people of New Orleans were included in the budgeting process. These meetings allow us to hear directly from New Orleanians on what their priorities are, and allow us to stick to our budgeting principles: Cut smart, reorganize and invest in the future.”

Each meeting will be attended by Landrieu, the district's councilmember, various deputy mayors and department heads, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell. All meetings will start at 6 p.m. From 5:30 to 6 p.m., the city will  hold "resource centers" where residents can speak individually with officials about specific projects, problems and complaints.

Under the jump: the schedule.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

MoPho Mid-City to open in a week

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 2:23 PM


MoPho Mid-City (514 City Park Ave., 504-482-6845) is set to open this weekend (Jan. 11), with former August chef de cuisine Michael Gulotta offering a menu of pho, vermicelli and other traditional Southeast Vietnamese dishes and specials that meld Vietnamese and Louisiana influences.

“That’s where chef’s really going to shine, through the daily specials,” says Jeff Gulotta, the chef’s brother, MoPho general manager and co-owner. Those specials include dishes like slow-roasted lamb neck in green curry with Creole cream cheese potatoes and grilled Two Run Farms beef ribs and cast iron roasted rapini with lime vinaigrette. “We’re using traditional Vietnamese cooking techniques and a Gulf pantry.”

The restaurant previously was scheduled to open the last week of December 2013, but Jeff Gulotta says, “We were just waiting on chairs and permits. The chairs came in [Jan. 3].” The Gulottas partnered with August veteran (and high school friend) Jeff Bybee on the new restaurant.

“We may try to do a soft opening on Friday (Jan. 10),” Jeff Gulotta says. “We’re shooting for opening next weekend.”

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

The new New Orleans: Which are the next New Orleans neighborhoods to boom?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

In this week's cover story about The New New Orleans, we looked at some statistics about the price of housing in New Orleans and the percentage of people who now are spending 50 percent or more of their income on rent. While neighborhoods like Bywater and Mid-City have become more popular, the price of rents there has gone up significantly.

So which areas are the next to boom for renters? We asked several local real estate professionals, plotted their answers on a Google Map, and overlaid it with PadMapper, a tool which searches Craigslist rental listings and plots out the results.

Click on any PadMapper listing to see up-to-date rental information.

To view and navigate the map in a larger screen view, click here.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Landrieu's proposed 2014 municipal budget leaves questions regarding consent decree funding

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses the press before this morning's commendation of his proposed 2014 operating budget to the New Orleans City Council.
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses the press before this morning's commendation of his proposed 2014 operating budget to the New Orleans City Council.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu commended his proposed 2014 municipal budget to the New Orleans City Council this morning at a special meeting of the council. The budget's total: $504 million, a slight increase above this year's amended total of $496 million.  

One of the proposed budget's centerpieces is "a five-year, $247 million building blitz" that will both continue to repair roadways and "remake" the Louis Armstrong/New Orleans International Airport — just in time for the city's planned 2018 tricentennial celebration. Police, fire and EMS services each received a small increase in their operating budgets, while the District Attorney's office and Criminal District Court remained unchanged. 

Left vague, however, was the city's plan for fulfilling the funding of the federal consent decree for Orleans Parish Prison (OPP). $22.1 million of general fund expenditures was approved for Sheriff Marlin Gusman's office in 2013; the exact same amount, down to the penny, is proposed for Gusman's office in 2014.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Keep LA Swift

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM

The LA Swift bus service that transports commuters between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is one of the silver linings that followed Hurricane Katrina. Now it’s threatened with extinction. Local officials in both cities are trying to help the transit service avoid that fate. I hope they succeed.

As horrific as Katrina was for south Louisiana, the storm also forged lasting bonds between communities that came to the aid of coastal parishes and those that were devastated. Baton Rouge responded on many levels, welcoming displaced New Orleanians who sought places to live within driving distance to the metro area.

Many of us still recall with dread the hours-long daily traffic jams on I-10 between New Orleans and the Capital City. To ease the congestion, the state established a park-and-ride commuter bus service between the two cities in October 2005. LA Swift became an instant hit. Even now, almost eight years after the storm, the service (which contracts with Hotard Coaches to provide buses) still provides more than 10,000 rides a month — and ridership is steadily growing.

Granted, the service was originally created as a temporary measure to help displaced New Orleanians get to work after the storm, but it has grown into a vital link between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Riders use it in both directions, so much so that civic and political leaders in both cities are rallying to keep LA Swift going. The service attracts some 200 riders a day.

LA Swift began via a Federal Transit Administration recovery grant, along with a $5 charge for each one-way trip. The grant is still available, but since 2007 it has required a local match, which the state has provided. The state will not provide that match going forward, however, and the service was set to end June 30. State officials last week gave LA Swift a one-month reprieve, giving local officials a chance to raise the local match, which is more than $700,000.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Advice … and a warning

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

A lot of folks can take credit for convincing Gov. Bobby Jindal to “park” his much-maligned “tax reform” plan last week, none more so than Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). In the Capitol’s pack of lobbying hounds, LABI is The Big Dog — particularly on tax matters.

Jindal’s proposed tax-swap plan was already on life support even before LABI pulled the plug on it on March 27. When the state’s leading business lobby announced its opposition to any plan that would increase the tax burden on businesses (which Team Jindal admitted the plan would do), the patient was officially dead.

Or was it?

Jindal is still prodding lawmakers to eliminate the individual income tax. He just isn’t offering any advice as to how to do it.

As Juneau noted in his latest weekly column, the governor’s latest move actually exposes his true objective: eliminating the individual income tax at any cost. There’s danger in that.

Juneau has led LABI for decades. He has seen — and supported — many attempts at tax reform. His column offers some “unsolicited advice” to lawmakers. They should take it.

I’ve been around this process almost as long as Juneau. I’m quoting his advice below — and adding a warning of what will happen if that advice is not heeded.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Orleans ranked 13th for sugar daddies

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM


From the “Gee, I’m in the wrong business” file:

A national study conducted by the dating website and released this week, shows New Orleans has 2.43 sugar daddies per 1,000 adult men in the city, putting the Big Easy 13th on the list. In another survey of sugar daddies released in December 2012, the website broke down statistics by religion, finding the highest number of sugar daddies were Jewish (28 percent), 17 percent were evangelicals (17 percent), 14 percent were Catholic and 8 percent were Protestant. (Twelve percent of sugar daddies in the study were not affiliated with a specific religion, and 3 percent identified themselves as atheist or agnostic.

The new study ranks Atlanta in first place, with 5.98 sugar daddies per 1,000 adult men in the city, Scottsdale, Ariz., came in second with 5.23, San Francisco dropped two places from last year with 4.94, Tampa, Fla., takes fourth with 4.48 and Boston places fifth with 4.29 sugar daddies per 1,000 adult men. Charlotte, S.C., came in last (20th) with a 1.49 count.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

I’ll have what he’s having

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM


There’s a classic scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are sitting in a crowded deli arguing about whether a man can tell when a woman fakes an orgasm. Crystal insists he can tell — and that no woman ever faked it with him. To prove him wrong, Ryan begins a show-stopping sexual soliloquy that, well, climaxes with her screaming, “Yes! Yes! YESSS!” — and pounding the table with both hands. She then casually picks up her fork and smugly continues eating as a sheepish Crystal and a stunned deli full of gawkers look on.

At a nearby table, an older woman puts down her menu and says to her waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

I thought of that scene recently when I learned that Gov. Bobby Jindal had concluded that raising the state sales tax by 1.88 cents was not enough to cover the revenue that would be lost by eliminating the state income tax, as he proposes. The governor now wants to raise the sales tax by 2.25 cents — giving Louisiana a total state sales tax of 6.25 percent.

At first, I thought it was an early April Fool’s joke. It wasn’t.

Surely, I thought, the governor must be smoking some serious herb, which is legal now in some of the states he may have visited recently. His plan to give Louisiana the highest combined state and local sales tax rates in the U.S. was already considered D.O.A. in the House of Representatives — and that was when he was “only” seeking to increase the state sales tax by 1.88 cents.

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