Mitch Landrieu

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mayor Landrieu: veteran homelessness virtually eliminated in New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at 5:45 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu says New Orleans has ended veteran homelessness. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu says New Orleans has ended veteran homelessness.

From inside the National World War II Museum’s U.S. Freedom Pavilion Jan. 7, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that New Orleans has made good on its promise to First Lady Michelle Obama’s challenge to U.S. mayors to end homelessness among military veterans — the city, with a massive partnership effort with federal, state and local agencies, housed 227 homeless veterans in 2014. (The nationwide challenge is to eradicate veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.) “We leaned in,” Landrieu said.

The plan is a part of Landrieu’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, announced in 2011. The city partnered with homeless advocacy group Unity of Greater New Orleans, Volunteers of America and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other groups to meet that goal.

“It’s shocking that people who risked their lives for us would be reduced to foraging for food on the street, using the sidewalk as their pillow,” said Unity director Martha Kegel. “The mayor had to right that wrong immediately. … Now the challenge is keeping veteran homelessness at a functional zero.”

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Drawn and (French) Quartered: A spate of violent crime in the Vieux Carre has some blaming Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Paul Melancon, a French Quarter bartender, says he's moved out of the neighborhood, partly because of safety concerns. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • Paul Melancon, a French Quarter bartender, says he's moved out of the neighborhood, partly because of safety concerns.


John Hoff has owned and managed Fahy’s Irish Pub on the corner of Toulouse and Burgundy Streets for 20 years. Tourists staying in the hotel across the street often come into the bar for a cocktail before they explore the Quarter, and Hoff says they sometimes ask him if the neighborhood is safe. His answer, he says, has always been the same for two decades.

Until about six weeks ago.

“I generally would tell them, ‘Yes, it’s safe, just be careful,’” Hoff said. “‘Be aware of your surroundings’ and stuff. Lately I can’t honestly say that. When tourists walk in and say, ‘Are we safe in this neighborhood?,’ I can’t honestly say yes.”

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sid vicious? Former trash king Torres fires at Mitch Landrieu over French Quarter safety

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 10:18 PM


In this screengrab from a television ad, former French Quarter garbage collector Sidney Torres IV criticizes Mayor Mitch Landrieu for not keeping the French Quarter safe. - YOUTUBE
  • YOUTUBE
  • In this screengrab from a television ad, former French Quarter garbage collector Sidney Torres IV criticizes Mayor Mitch Landrieu for not keeping the French Quarter safe.

If anyone should know about trash in the French Quarter, it's Sidney Torres IV, whose SDT Waste & Debris Services kept the Vieux Carre sparking clean and lemony-fresh under a city contract in 2007, continuing for several years after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods. After a fallout between Torres and the city in 2010, the city eventually went with a less lemony-fresh garbage contractor, and the man who was nicknamed "Trashanova" for his luxuriant hair and tight T-shirts moved on to other business concerns, including a Bahamian resort. But Torres retains a home on Esplanade Avenue just out of the French Quarter (where he's had scraps with a neighboring business over noise concerns).

Torres' house was broken into in December during a stubbon crime wave in the French Quarter and surrounding areas, and that seems to be the impetus behind his latest venture: a commercial criticizing Mayor Mitch Landrieu for not keeping the French Quarter safe. In the 30-second ad, Torres says:

"The French Quarter's under siege by criminals. You may ask what qualifies me to comment on crime in the French Quarter. I'm a resident and my company cleaned every inch of that neighborhood. I know it like the back of my hand." 


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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

French Quarter residents rally for more police protection

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Sydney McMath holds a sign in Jackson Square. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Sydney McMath holds a sign in Jackson Square.

More than 100 people gathered in Jackson Square this evening to demand more police presence in what many residents fear is a growing area for violent crime. The rally — held on the first night of Carnival, about an hour before the Krewe de Jeanne D'Arc marched down Decatur Street and a few hours after Mayor Mitch Landrieu officially kicked off the city's 2015 season — followed growing frustrations from residents during a particularly violent end of 2014. While Landrieu said the city was making progress with lowering its murder rate last week, French Quarter residents posted signs reading "Caution: Walk in large groups. We [heart] the NOPD. We just need more."

People at the rally called for more police, whether boots on the ground belonged to NOPD officers, Louisiana State Police (who beefed up police efforts during the Sugar Bowl and New Year's events) or other law enforcement. Several people broke out in chants, including "What do we want? Troopers! When do we want them? Now!" and "Where's the mayor? What's the plan?"

"We'll take what we can get," said Edith Sercovich, who said her street recently has seen a murder, beatings and robberies. Sercovich handed out signs reading, "Welcome to Landrieuville! Home of Robbers, Stabbers & Rapists."

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Anti-crime rally set for Jackson Square Jan. 6

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 12:03 AM

The Facebook page for an anti-crime rally scheduled to be held in Jackson Square on Jan. 6, the evening that the Carnival season kicks off in New Orleans.
  • The Facebook page for an anti-crime rally scheduled to be held in Jackson Square on Jan. 6, the evening that the Carnival season kicks off in New Orleans.


A Facebook-organized anti-crime rally is scheduled to be held Jan. 6 — the first night of Carnival season — in Jackson Square, but representatives for the city say that organizers haven't applied for permits for the rally.

The rally was announced last week on a Facebook page by organizer Helen Landry:

Violent crime is on the rise in the French Quarter and it needs to stop now! Join us at a public rally in Jackson Square to send a loud & clear message to Mayor Landrieu, Councilwoman Ramsey and Police Chief Michael Harrison that WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT anymore!

We don't want to become a vigiliante city. We want the city leadership and NOPD to step up and take back control of our streets before we lose tourists and before any more residents are mugged, injured or killed.

Stand up and let your voice be heard on Twelfth Night: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We demand to live in a safer city by Mardi Gras! 

"I have no beef with anyone," Landry wrote in an email to Gambit in response to a query. "I just want safer streets."

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Mayor Landrieu aims to end veteran homelessness by end of 2014

Posted By on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials gave an exhaustive recap of the administration’s successes in 2014 at a press conference at City Hall today, from tax revenue increases and public safety programs to New Orleans’ increasing national profile.

Missing from them, however, were the results of an ambitious goal to eliminate veteran homelessness by the end of the year. Landrieu said an announcement is coming next week, but homeless advocacy group Unity of Greater New Orleans announced this month that nearly 200 homeless veterans have been moved into permanent housing. This month, Unity also opened Sacred Heart Apartments on Canal Street, where 11 chronically homeless people have moved in.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Louisiana election night: Da winnas and da loozas

Posted By on Sun, Dec 7, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Senator-elect Bill Cassidy, speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Senator-elect Bill Cassidy, speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.


Successful candidates get to take their bows and do their best not to gloat on Election Night. They deserve their moments in the limelight — their names and reputations were on the line, after all.

But behind the scenes (sometimes only barely out of the limelight), major political players and special interests whose names were not on the ballot are popping corks — or licking their wounds — when the votes are finally counted. For more than three decades, I’ve analyzed election results in terms of who really won and lost: my perennial list of electoral Winnas and Loozas.

Herewith my assessment of the 2014 election cycle (including Nov. 4), starting with …

DA WINNAS

1. The Louisiana GOP — The Republican Party has been steadily building strength in Louisiana since Dave Treen won the governor’s race in 1979 and Ronald Reagan won the White House a year later. It wasn’t always easy, but this year the GOP made electoral politics look easy with Congressman Bill Cassidy’s simple strategy of hanging President Barack Obama around incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s neck like a millstone. Landrieu was on the defensive from Day One and was never able to score a clean hit on Cassidy, though she certainly tried. The tide of anti-Obama sentiment among Louisiana voters was like a tsunami. In retrospect, even if Landrieu had run a perfect campaign, she could not have turned that tide. Anti-Obama voter outrage was so strong that it even changed the course of the District 1 Public Service Commission race, which had nothing to do with the President. Voters didn’t care; they were out to banish anyone tagged with the scarlet letter “O.”

2. David Vitter — Louisiana’s soon-to-be senior senator is now the undisputed kingpin of the state GOP, and his microphone-grab at Cassidy headquarters on Election Night drove home that point. Vitter was the architect of Cassidy’s “virtual” campaign against Landrieu. He recruited Cassidy, cleared the field of most other would-be Republican challengers, helped Cassidy raise money and lent one of his top aides to Cassidy as campaign manager. In many ways, Cassidy’s campaign was a trial run for Vitter’s gubernatorial bid next year. It proved (just as Vitter did in his 2010 re-election campaign) that a candidate with lots of money can run for a major statewide office without actually getting out and touching voters in person. That’s good news for a guy who could still be dogged by a sex scandal.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Sunday: Dumaine Street Gang second line parade

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 4:10 PM

DUMAINE STREET GANG S&P CLUB 17TH ANNUAL PARADE
 
featuring:

DUMAINE STREET GANG LADIES AUXILIARY

ORIGINAL DUMAINE STREET LADIES TROLLEY DIVISION

THROW BACK FELLAS S&P AND

ONE MO TIME S&P CLUBS

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2014 12-4pm

Featuring TBC, New Birth and The Truth Brass Bands

(route details below)

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mayor Landrieu on Eric Garner case: "we are all responsible" for reconciliation

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Following yesterday's grand jury decision not to indict white New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of black, unarmed Staten Island man Eric Garner, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said "we are all responsible" for reconciliation and to "convert this painful moment" into positive change. Landrieu offered the following statement:

“America's promise pledges indivisibility and justice for all, yet we are divided by race, class and inequity. The most challenging issues on the streets of our cities are now on display. Instead of looking away, we must agree to face the problems in our justice system head on. We must ask ourselves why this country’s value of African American men and boys is not the same as their counterparts. In order to move forward and to have peace, we must agree that while we are not all at fault, we are all responsible for creating the reconciliation that is required. Together, we must convert this painful moment in our history into a beginning for meaningful change. In New Orleans and in cities across the country, this must happen in word and in deed.”

The grand jury decision followed a week after a grand jury's decision not to indict white Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Following that decision, Landrieu said, "In the United States we remain divided. Divided by race. Divided by poverty. We live a block away from one another, but are often a world apart. It is time for each of us, every American, to accept the fact that we must begin to acknowledge and discuss the most difficult issues we face. And we must agree to face them together."

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Comedian and activist Jonah Bascle dies at 28

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Comedian and activist Jonah Bascle in 2011. He used a run for mayor and for City Council to bring awareness to New Orleans' lack of services for disabled residents. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Comedian and activist Jonah Bascle in 2011. He used a run for mayor and for City Council to bring awareness to New Orleans' lack of services for disabled residents.

New Orleans comedian and disability advocate Jonah Bascle died today from complications stemming from muscular dystrophy, a disease he had fought for many years. He was 28 years old.

In 2010, Bascle drew attention to New Orleans' lack of services for the disabled — particularly streetcar service on the St. Charles line — with an attention-getting run for mayor. He placed eighth in the race with 160 votes, saying he hadn't intended to win, but using the election as a forum "seemed like a good way to get some attention for this problem." In September 2011, his fight was the subject of a Gambit cover story, "A Streetcar Named Denied." 

In 2013, he returned to politics, running for the City Council District A seat against incumbent Susan Guidry, who welcomed his candidacy. 

"It's been four years," Bascle explained. "Stuff that I thought would be done by now still isn't."

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