Four area courts are collecting new or slightly used suitcases, duffle bags and backpacks for children moving through the foster care system.
Luggage donations can be dropped off at the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal (410 Royal St.), marked to the attention of Judge Max Tobias. (The duffle bags and backpacks should be large.)
Judges for the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, the 25th Judicial District Court for Plaquemines Parish and the 34th Judicial District Court for St. Bernard Parish came up with the program after observing that children moving into new foster homes generally have to carry their belongings in garbage bags, which the judges say is demeaning. Some of the children remain in the foster care system for years and move several times.
“It is bad enough for a child to leave everything he or she knows and loves, but then to have all their belongings placed into a trashbag places a feeling of worthlessness on top of it all,” 4th Circuit Chief Judge Charles R. Jones said in a news release announcing the program.
Organizers of Suitcases for Foster Kids hope individuals, community groups, businesses and service organizations will join the effort. The luggage will be distributed to courts in Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, which will get the bags into the hands of foster children who need them. Any extras will be distributed to foster kids elsewhere in Louisiana.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tobias at 412-6072.
Romney would do well to have a wing man who can astutely explain the flaws in President Barack Obama’s policies and lay out the GOP’s innovative, pro-growth alternatives. There are many attractive prospects out there, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal can do not just all that, he has already implemented the sort of bold reforms at the state level that are now desperately needed at the federal level.
Last week, the Associated Press reported Louisiana's budget deficit is now $220 million.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana is trying to make up for a 46 percent drop — or about 2.5 million fewer meals — in the USDA commodities it receives to prepare for an increase in demand for food when children are out of school for the summer. Rubber ducks are going to help.
“Last year we distributed roughly 22 million meals across the 23 parishes we serve,” says Leslie Doles, communications and public relations director at Second Harvest. “In the area we serve, about half the population is in poverty. While people think of the food bank during the holidays, we have a real need in the summer. You see a lot of people struggling to make sure their kids are fed during the summer when they aren’t in school.”
To optimize its ability to serve more hungry people, Second Harvest is using two refrigerated trucks recently donated by Walmart as mobile pantries, and it has several events planned to raise money and increase food collections. One event is a rubber duck race on Bayou St. John during Bayou Boogaloo (May 20), for which the group hopes to "adopt out" 15,000 rubber ducks. (See details below the jump.)
Steam shovels provided the backdrop for this morning’s groundbreaking for the new Winn-Dixie shopping complex at S. Carrollton and St. Louis streets in Mid-City. The lot — site of a former Bohn car dealership — has sat fallow since Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry and representatives of the supermarket chain and developers Stirling Properties were all on hand for the ceremony. “Though the lot was not technically blighted,” Guidry told the crowd, “it was a blight to our souls.”
“We’re not building the city the way it was; we’re building the city the way we want it to be,” Landrieu said, adding that the shopping complex is expected to provide 365 permanent jobs in the supermarket and satellite businesses, which will include Office Depot, Neighborhood Pet Market by Jefferson Feed, Felipe’s Taqueria, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pei Wei Asian Diner and the frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry, “which I am really pumped up about,” Landrieu added. (The mayor can be spotted at the Magazine Avenue location fairly regularly.)
Guidry referred to the complex as “a premier shopping as well as recreational area,” making reference to the Lafitte Corridor, the 3.1- mile greenway that will eventually run through Mid-City to the French Quarter. In December, the city agreed to let the supermarket build a car crossing on St. Louis Street into the parking lot, a move vigorously opposed by the group Friends of the Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) but defended by the Landrieu administration. Before the ceremonial shovel-turning, Landrieu made oblique reference to the contretemps, thanking FOLC “for taking what could have been a very big conflict” and helping find a solution — “while it may not be perfect,” he added.
As the countdown at St. Patrick’s Day continues, several hundreds scholars, experts and ambassadors of Irish culture are in town this week attending the American Conference for Irish Studies. One of them is Jimmy Deenihan, the Irish government’s Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht (or Irish language) Affairs, who is here to speak at the conference and meet with local Irish cultural groups, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the newly-formed Irish Network-New Orleans.
Gambit caught up with Deenihan for an interview at the Hotel Monteleone, the site of most of the ACIS events.
Gambit: We hear a lot in Louisiana these days about the value of our culture and heritage as an economic asset. Is that an idea that has caught on in Ireland?
Deenihan: I think people understand it now more than ever. They understand that we have something here that’s very precious. Because Irish music, Irish dance, it’s quite distinctive, and in film, I’d say Ireland has punched way above its weight. There is a lot of economic potential in culture and in heritage. A lot of other countries have proved that as well, but I think we have capitalized on it more than most. We don’t have climate, so we can’t sell sunshine.
But Irish people in a way drifted from their culture, and during the Celtic Tiger (the recent economic boom time in Ireland) they sometimes changed, and Irish people started acting differently than what would be expected of them. One thing that happened with the collapse of our economy in 2007 and 2008 is that people have gone back to basics and they’ve gone back to their culture and their heritage. And in order to regain national pride, we have promoted Ireland through our culture and through our heritage.
That almost-new suit you haven’t worn in a year, the pants you never got hemmed — get rid of them and feel good about it by donating them to Dress for Success during the 10th annual Send One Suit Weekend through Sunday, March 4. Drop off clothing donations at any Dressbarn women’s store (the closest locations are listed below the jump).
The nonprofit Dress for Success focuses on helping disadvantaged women who are trying to gain financial independence. The organization collects and distributes donated professional apparel needed for job interviews and beginning a new job. Items needed include suits, blouses, skirts, pants, shoes and accessories. Dress for Success partners with national retailer Dressbarn for Send One Suit Weekend. Dressbarn's stated goal for 2012 is to collect 60,000 items at its 825 stores, 9,000 more than the 51,000 the public donated during last year's drive.
Gov. Bobby Jindal today announced that General Electric Co.'s financial services arm GE Capital plans to bring an information technology center to New Orleans. At a press conference in the IP Building downtown, Jindal said the company will locate 300 jobs here, each paying between $60,000 and $100,000 per year. By the time the center is fully staffed in 2015, its payroll will total nearly $30 million.
Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu heralded the plan as a major boon to the city and the state, not only because of the new jobs, but because GE in chose the New Orleans over dozens of other locations competing for the tech center (probably in no small part because of the state's very, very generous tech incentives).
"I promised the people of Louisiana that we'd see a new Louisiana," Jindal said. "We are creating a new state ... We're seeing a city rise to a new era."
(Continued after the jump)
Having learned of the giant $26 billion mortgage settlement between the Justice Department and most state attorneys general against Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo this morning, I reached out to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office to find out how much we'd be getting and how it will be divided up among eligible current and former state homeowners.
I just received a statement from his communications director Amanda Papillion Larkins. It's very brief and very preliminary, but here it is:
"The proposed agreement provides an estimated $67.6 million in direct relief to Louisiana homeowners and addresses future mortgage loan servicing practices. The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the details of the settlement and will provide more information as it becomes available."
Here's the DoJ-created website about the settlement: www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com
You’ve still got time to make it to a Ujamaa celebration at Christian Unity Baptist Church (1700 Conti St. at N. Claiborne Ave.) tonight from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Ujamaa is the fourth of seven principles of Kwanzaa, and is Swahili for “cooperative economics,” Glynn Johns Reed, publisher of the quarterly Black Pages magazine has undertaken a three-month campaign based on Ujamaa. Her goal is to increase awareness of locally owned African-American businesses and encourage blacks to patronize African-American businesses. The campaign ends Feb. 29, 2012.
The Ujama event tonight includes a panel discussion on cooperative economics with a diverse panel of African-American business owners and pastors. The celebration also includes refreshments, a candle-lighting ceremony, drumming, dancing and more.
The overall economic impact of the BioDistrict in downtown New Orleans will be well over $6 billion in terms of infrastructure investments, new and “saved” jobs, personal earnings and tax collections, according to LSU economist James Richardson, who also is a member of the Louisiana Revenue Estimating Conference.
Richardson’s projections are contained in a report completed last month for BioDistrict New Orleans. The report measures the economic impact of the district’s construction phase, which will be most intense in the first five years but will continue up to 20 years, as well as the impact of ongoing operations once the district’s component institutions are up and running.
Richardson’s study estimates total “investment” during the first five years will be more than $1.6 billion — not including major equipment purchases — with a total of more than $3.3 billion in economic impact during that same period. That $3.3 billion includes more than 7,000 jobs a year (most of them in construction) and more than $1.1 billion in personal earnings. New state and local tax collections will reach $140 million or more during those same five years, he estimates.
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