Mitch Landrieu

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

As New Orleans City Council prepares to tackle Confederate monument issue, opponents suggest alternatives

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 6:30 PM

The Monumental Task Committee opposes plans to remove four Confederate landmarks in New Orleans. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • The Monumental Task Committee opposes plans to remove four Confederate landmarks in New Orleans.

More than 30,000 people have signed petitions opposing the removal of four monuments to Confederate leaders and events. The Monumental Task Committee (MTC) — a volunteer group that has led efforts to prevent the City of New Orleans from removing the statues —  has sent the signatures to City Hall as the New Orleans City Council prepares its final meetings on an ordinance that considers the monuments' removal under a "nuisance" law, which says a public statue can be removed if it "honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens" or "suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious, or racial supremacy of any group over another."

The four monuments include statues honoring Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, Robert E. Lee and the Battle of Liberty Place, an uprising from the Crescent City White League against Reconstruction efforts after the Civil War. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said a private donor is willing to pay for the cost of their removal. MTC President Pierre McGraw said Landrieu "has chosen to railroad" a decision on the monuments during a busy holiday season, and he questions the legality of their removal.

McGraw said despite public meetings held by the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Human Relations Commission, the Vieux Carre Commission and other parties, there has not been significant public discussion about the monuments' future. (Those city agencies support their removal.) MTC's invitations to Landrieu and City Council members to attend MTC forums were not returned, McGraw said.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Orleans City Council members oppose parking meter hikes

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 1:40 PM

New Orleans City Council members largely oppose the city's plan to increase downtown parking meter fares. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • New Orleans City Council members largely oppose the city's plan to increase downtown parking meter fares.

New Orleans service workers have criticized the city's plans to increase parking meter rates — doubling them downtown — and expanding times as a slight to the service industry. In this week's Gambit cover story, the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) called it "an attack on the service industry workers who serve us."

Those complaints (which included a petition that gathered more than 1,300 signatures) made their way to the New Orleans City Council, which asked city officials and the Department of Public Works (DPW) why the rate hike is necessary. "Look at the uniqueness of areas you’re talking about," said Councilmember Nadine Ramsey, whose District C covers the French Quarter. "A lot of our workers use that for parking ... It’s not people who are coming down with extra income to shop or go to restaurants."

Downtown meter rates were raised in 2010 from $1.25 per hour to $1.50. In 2016, the city plans to raise rates and extend hours in spots from Mississippi River to Claiborne Avenue and from the Pontchartrain Expressway to Elysian Fields Avenue. Rates will double from $1.50 an hour to $3 an hour, and meter times will extend from ending at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The change is expected to bring in several million dollars to the city's general fund.

Deputy mayors Cedric Grant and Andy Kopplin, as well as DPW Director Mark Jernigan, said it's a matter of supply and demand. Speaking at the DPW's budget hearing Nov. 11, Kopplin said those spaces are "a finite and valuable resource" that are meant in part to create turnover for businesses. Grant said the city has lost 1,000 parking spots over the last five years with the construction of every apartment, restaurant and hotel. "We’re at this tension point of use of curb space and use of public right of way," he said. "We’re at capacity ... It’s not as much revenue as it is a public safety measure to keep traffic moving."

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Friday, November 6, 2015

New Orleans officials celebrate opening of Lafitte Greenway

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Sophie Harris of Friends of the Lafitte Corridor and members of the New Orleans City Council cut the ribbon to the Lafitte Greenway on Nov. 6. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Sophie Harris of Friends of the Lafitte Corridor and members of the New Orleans City Council cut the ribbon to the Lafitte Greenway on Nov. 6.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu handed Sophie Harris the blue ribbon wrapped around the sign announcing an ambitious 3-mile park that links Mid-City with the French Quarter, a project imagined over decades and completed nine years after residents — the Friends of the Lafitte Greenway (FOLG) — started planning how to make it reality.

"It took a village," Harris, director of FOLG, told Gambit on Nov. 6 after city officials formally opened the Lafitte Greenway. The LED-lighted bike and pedestrian path stretches from Mid-City at Bayou St. John to the edge of the French Quarter, with gardens, parks, soccer fields and other community spaces planned along the trail. FOLG has led the planning process since 2006, and the group didn't lose hope despite canceled projects and delayed construction starts. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Interior announced a prioritized commitment to the park, and the city began construction last year. The Greenway was set to open this summer — with November's 80-degree weather, District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry (who joined the FOLC before her election to the City Council) joked, "Does it at least feel this way?"

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Orleans CVB, downtown workers concerned about City Hall plan to double parking meter fees and extend hours

Posted By and on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 8:16 PM

A parking meter on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter. The city plans to increase parking rates in the Quarter and CBD to $3 per hour, and extend hours of meter operation until 10 p.m. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A parking meter on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter. The city plans to increase parking rates in the Quarter and CBD to $3 per hour, and extend hours of meter operation until 10 p.m.

Would you pay $3 per hour to park in the French Quarter, CBD and Warehouse District?

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration is banking on it.

Early in the New Year, the city plans to hike parking meter rates across the city, particularly downtown. Rates would double in the tourism and nightlife district, and meter hours there would be extended from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. — a plan which Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), calls “an attack on the service industry workers who serve us.”

Konrad Kantor is one of those not happy with the plan. He’s the co-owner of El Libre, a Cuban cafe that opened in the Quarter in mid-September. “Over the last five or six years,” Kantor says, “I’ve paid about $4,000 in parking tickets, fines and towing.”

The owner of a corner bar in the Upper Quarter, who didn’t want to give his name, told Gambit he was concerned about the extra cost to his staff. “My customers, they take cabs or Uber, or they factor in the cost of parking,” he said. “But it’s really going to hit my employees.”

“My concern is not just the service industry — that’s just an inconvenience,” Kantor says, adding he’s worried about the effect on tourism, as well as people who drive into the Quarter from elsewhere in the city and from neighboring parishes. “The thing that’s a little disturbing is that it’s not a vote," he adds.

Indeed it's not. Sarah McLaughlin, communications director for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, clarified to Gambit that the rate hike will not require New Orleans City Council approval.

“Where is the money going to go?” Kantor asks.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

No surprise: Mitch Landrieu endorses John Bel Edwards for governor

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 3:10 PM

State Rep. John Bel Edwards is touting an endorsement in the gubernatorial race by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
  • State Rep. John Bel Edwards is touting an endorsement in the gubernatorial race by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards' gubernatorial campaign sent out an email this afternoon touting the endorsement of several Louisiana mayors —  Mayor Mitch Landrieu among them:
"John Bel Edwards will be a partner with local governments and will help turn the state budget around. With public safety and criminal justice as my top priority, I also know that John Bel will help us in our fight against violent crime. He has the support of the law enforcement community, and he will also be an honest and hardworking governor that will put the people of our state first."
Though Landrieu is a Democrat and Edwards was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot, Landrieu had hung back before the primary election, choosing not to endorse anyone. "I need to hear from all four candidates," he told The New Orleans Advocate. "Tell me how New Orleans isn't just your whipping boy." 

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Landrieu unveils New Orleans' $593 million budget for 2016

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 3:36 PM

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

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's top priority is making New Orleans safe, he said as he unveiled his proposed $592.7 million budget this morning. NOPD is set to be funded at $140 million, an 8 percent ($10.5 million) budget increase from 2015, and $31 million more than it received just six years earlier. "Fighting crime and making the city safe is always our No. 1 priority," Landrieu said.

New Orleans isn't cash-strapped — the city's proposed 2016 budget is $50 million higher than the 2015 budget, and it's nearly $100 million stronger than its 2010 budget. 

But the city also is on the hook for millions of dollars to pay New Orleans firefighters in an ongoing battle over pensions — and then there's funding the new jail, two consent decrees, and committing to a well-funded criminal justice system, including new infrastructure, pay raises and new hires within the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to combat the city's ongoing crime issues.

Landrieu said "the big takeaway" from citywide public budget hearings this summer was "that people of New Orleans want solutions, real plans" to make this city safe and to create jobs, fix streets and offer more affordable housing. Those solutions in Landrieu's 2016 budget are among other "laser focus" priorities that the mayor has targeted, from fighting blight to ambitious capital projects and transportation infrastructure.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Landrieu promotes NOPD's "Operation Relentless Pursuit"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 7:15 PM

"Operation Relentless Pursuit" is the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) crime-reduction strategy, which encompasses several familiar efforts under an umbrella that Mayor Mitch Landrieu is calling a "tougher, smarter" plan to fight crime.

In an email promoting the plan today, Landrieu says "we must be a city of peace, a place of safety for all our citizens and visitors" adding that New Orleans "must be united, relentless and fierce in our response" when crime "threatens our neighborhoods."

Landrieu and NOPD chief Michael Harrison spoke with businesses and neighborhood groups about the plan in meetings today. The plan, Landrieu says in the email, will work alongside Landrieu's NOLA for Life initiative, not as its replacement. "We'll protect our neighborhoods by strengthening our communities, not tearing them down," he continues. "Well do it by partnering with community leaders, local businesses, community centers, and religious institutions across our city. We'll do it by partnering with you and your neighborhood because we're all in this together."

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell: 'There is not a single time or place that is safe' in New Orleans right now

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 6:24 PM

After a summer-long string of high-profile crimes in New Orleans — including increasingly brazen assaults, shootings and robberies during daylight hours, as well as the second armed robbery of customers at an Uptown restaurant during dinner service — District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell seems to have had enough. Cantrell issued a statement late this afternoon notable for both its brevity and its exasperation:
After yet another week of armed robbery, rape, and assault, I am at a loss. Our city stands on the verge of a tipping point of violence, much like what occurred after the notorious Louisiana Kitchen murders in December 1996. The people of this city came together as one, stood tall, rallied for change and we got it.

The truth is, right now, there is not a single time or place that is safe, and we cannot remember the last violence-free day in our communities. We are failing as a city to defend and protect our citizens. To turn back this tide of terror, we must demand better.
What that demand is, and to whom it should be made, was not specified.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Y@ Speak: Rivalries, Chapter 1,000

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 12:20 PM

Twitter: A Place for Feuds. Last week we watched car dealerships vs. eyebrows, Bobby Jindal vs. Donald Trump, and the ongoing tragedy of the New Orleans Saints vs. itself. Plus: Drew Brees wrestles alligators, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's will-he-or-won't-he house arrest, and bilingual pets.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Y@ Speak: learning

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 2:36 PM

What is house arrest and who can I ask more about it? What does Rob Ryan really look like? How do you even ride a bus? All these questions, answered, and more in this week's late, post-Labor Day edition of (last week's) The News: Twitter.

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