Mitch Landrieu

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Atlantic announces full schedule for its "New Orleans: Ten Years Later" symposium

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 4:58 PM

Ten of the dozens of speakers scheduled to address the crowd at "New Orleans: Ten Years Later." - THE ATLANTIC
  • Ten of the dozens of speakers scheduled to address the crowd at "New Orleans: Ten Years Later."

The Atlantic has announced the complete schedule for "New Orleans: Ten Years Later," a daylong symposium to be held Aug. 24 at the Sheraton New Orleans.

It's an ambitious program, with 15 separate panels and several dozens speakers in less than 8 hours. Among those scheduled to address the group: Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison, former City Councilman Oliver Thomas, Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White, Rising Tide author John Barry, Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. and Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indians Hall of Fame.

The panels are free and open to the public, and some tickets still are available as of Aug. 19. Register here. Full schedule under the jump.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist: "What I was thinking"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."
  • Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."

Kristen McQueary, the Chicago Tribune editorialist who pissed off vast swaths of New Orleans, Chicago, and the Internet yesterday with her wish that a "Hurricane Katrina" would strike Chicago and clean up that city's "rot," has come back 24 hours later with a "what I meant to say" piece.

Here's what McQueary meant to say, according to her:
I used the hurricane as a metaphor for the urgent and dramatic change needed in Chicago: at City Hall, at the Chicago City Council, at Chicago Public Schools. Our school system is about to go bankrupt, and the city’s pension costs and other massive debts have squeezed out money for basic services.

I wrote what I did not out of lack of empathy, or racism, but out of long-standing frustration with Chicago’s poorly managed finances.
The original column, McQueary wrote, came after a Trib editorial board meeting with Mayor MItch Landrieu, who was in Chicago to talk about the city's recovery — and, presumably, the Katrina10 commemoration, which is designed to both memorialize the tragedy and put forward the city's best face at a time when we once again have the world's gaze.

In that sense, it's a PR campaign, which is fine; that's what a traveling mayor is for. But one hopes an editorial board at one of the country's most powerful newspapers would dig deeper than an elected official's political spin, and all McQueary seemed to carry away from the meeting was this:
Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans' City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated.

An underperforming public school system saw a complete makeover. A new schools chief, Paul Vallas, designed a school system with the flexibility of an entrepreneur. No restrictive mandates from the city or the state. No demands from teacher unions to abide. Instead, he created the nation's first free-market education system.

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.
Unmentioned: billions of dollars in federal recovery money and insurance payouts, which had a lot to do with what progress we've made; bootstraps and volunteerism only goes so far. Dumping that kind of money into Chicago, even without a tragedy, would probably perk up things there as well.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Confederate statues receive recommendation for removal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 6:32 PM

Lee Circle in 2010. - FW_GADGET/FLICKR
  • Lee Circle in 2010.

Update: A second city committee, the Human Relations Commission, also recommended the statues' removal at its meeting following the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Its recommendation will be sent to the full New Orleans City Council. 

The New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) recommended today that four Confederate monuments "may be removed" following a push from Mayor Mitch Landrieu as well as the New Orleans City Council to consider the statues' futures. The HDLC voted 11-1.

The monuments include P.G.T. Beauregard outside City Park, Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, and a monument commemorating the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place.

The City Council passed a resolution considering the statues a "nuisance" based on a 1993 ordinance that calls for the removal of property that "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." Judy Reese Morse and Scott Hutcheson from the mayor's office said the monuments represent the Lost Cause following the Civil War, in that they were erected during racially divisive Reconstruction efforts to nobilize the cause and have become symbols of white supremacy and ideologies that continue to oppress minorities. Morse said the discussion isn't so much about the men represented by the monuments but "the ideology that caused their monuments to be erected in the first place."

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

City of New Orleans to host public meetings on Confederate landmarks

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 4:45 PM

click image Lee Circle in 2010. - FW_GADGET/FLICKR
  • Lee Circle in 2010.

Following last week's invite-only daylong discussion on the future of the city's Confederate landmarks, the City of New Orleans hosts two meetings next week that are open to the public.

The Historic District Landmarks Commission hosts a meeting in City Council chambers at City Hall (1300 Perdido St.) from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, followed by a Human Relations Commission meeting at 6 p.m. 

Up for discussion are the possible relocations of several monuments to the confederacy, including a statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, a Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway, a P.G.T. Beauregard statue in front of City Park, and the Liberty Place Monument on Iberville Street.

Public discussion began in City Council chambers last month as Mayor Mitch Landrieu made his pitch to relocate the monuments, asking how New Orleans — amid its efforts "to inspire a nation" — can do so while several highly visible landmarks include symbols and echoes of white supremacy. The City Council agreed. Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities also hosted a packed-house panel on the history and legacies of those landmarks — a full transcript and audio of the discussion is available online. Though the historians on the panel held that their perspective of the monuments allows them to see them more as archeological artifacts, they largely agreed the monuments' symbolism should be reinterpreted to reflect their place in today's (and the future's) worldview. "This is an opportunity to take the mythology of the Lost Cause head on," said Loyola University professor Justin Nystrom. "I don’t think anybody wants our kids feeling oppressed by a monument. These are teaching moments. We didn’t learn this in school. Well, maybe we can learn something in the public space."

According to a release, comment cards at the Human Relations Commission meeting must be submitted no later than 7 p.m. in order for participants to speak. The city also is accepting public comments online at or Those comments must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 to be entered into the record.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

'Nuisance' or history?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 8:51 AM

The debate over New Orleans Confederate monuments could become a teaching moment about slavery and the fight for freedom.
  • The debate over New Orleans' Confederate monuments could become a 'teaching moment' about slavery and the fight for freedom.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu did not attend a forum on the fate of local Confederate monuments last Thursday at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. That’s too bad. He might have learned something.

Of course, that’s no guarantee that Hizzoner would have changed his mind on the question of what to do with statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, along with the monument to the White League riot of 1874. He asked the City Council on July 9 to begin a process that would declare the monuments “nuisances,” ostensibly precipitating their removal.

At the same council meeting, Landrieu gave the appearance of offering the monuments their day in court, even if it was a Judge Roy Bean sort of court. He asked council members to hold public hearings and to get comments from various city agencies (all of which answer to Hizzoner) — before drafting an ordinance declaring them nuisances. The council unanimously adopted a resolution putting that process in motion.

In the wake of the Charleston massacre, there’s little sympathy for the Lost Cause, but at last Thursday’s LEH forum there was quite a bit of interest in history. A panel of distinguished local historians discussed the origins of the White League, efforts to enforce “white supremacy” post-Reconstruction, and the lasting impact of these and other events on African-Americans. The historians were not exactly Confederate sympathizers, but none said take the statues down. Instead, they added much-needed context to the debate over the statues’ future.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Louisiana Cultural Vistas to hold discussion of Confederate monuments in New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 2:54 PM

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, located in Lee Circle, looks down on St. Charles Avenue by night. - CREATIVE COMMONS/PAT "CLETCH" WILLIAMS
  • The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, located in Lee Circle, looks down on St. Charles Avenue by night.

What to do about New Orleans' Confederate monuments — if anything — has been a hot topic around town since the Confederate flag flap in South Carolina and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's call to get four Confederate monuments in New Orleans taken down or moved.

On July 23, Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine will host a forum on the subject, focusing on the history of each, as well as the significance of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis to the city of New Orleans directly. According to the magazine, "the conversation is intended to add a historical perspective to the ongoing debate over how the South interprets the memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction."

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Phil Anselmo weighs in on the Confederate flag

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 8:34 PM

Phil Anselmo says he doesn't buy the argument that a Confederate flag represents "heritage, not hate."
  • Phil Anselmo says he doesn't buy the argument that a Confederate flag represents "heritage, not hate."

Though Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council support taking down or renaming four Confederate monuments in the city, the hot-button issue of flying any of the Confederate flags hasn't become an issue in New Orleans — probably because Confederate flags don't fly on any public property.

But musician Phil Anselmo — a New Orleans native and ex-Pantera member, now performing with the all-star metal band Superjoint Ritual — told the website Hard Rock Haven that he regretted Pantera's past use of the flag:

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Y@ Speak: on a pedestal

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 12:38 PM

As city officials contemplate the inevitable Saddam-style teardown of the city's Confederate landmarks, Anthony Davis is on his way to getting his own statue, some day, somewhere, hopefully in all public rights of way. People are also excited about another landmark — a grocery store opening in Metairie — because wine there, so they say, is $2 yet socially acceptable to purchase. Meanwhile: Gov. Bobby Jindal, a brass band and Mardi Gras Indians walk into an anti-abortion conference...

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Monumental issue

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Should Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders continue to stand on pedestals along New Orleans most prominent boulevards? Or would removing them amount to erasing history?
  • Should Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders continue to stand on pedestals along New Orleans' most prominent boulevards? Or would removing them amount to "erasing history?"

In 1862, Union forces captured the Confederate jewel of New Orleans without firing a shot in the city. That’s a big reason why so many historic buildings here still stand. It would be nice if the 2015 battle over Confederate monuments in New Orleans could proceed so peacefully.

To hear many folks tell it, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposal to take down four Confederate monuments will cause him to be remembered alongside Union Gen. Benjamin “Spoons” Butler, who brought iron-fisted order to captive New Orleans, along with some looting of silverware by his troops.

Yes, some folks still get riled about that. Many more get quite upset at the notion of taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee, saying it’s a local landmark or, far worse, that removing Confederate statues amounts to erasing history.

That Lee is revered by Old South romantics is indisputable. What’s open to debate is whether he and other Confederate leaders should remain, literally, on pedestals along the city’s premier boulevards. That’s the conversation Landrieu officially kicked off last week. Hizzoner has made up his own mind; he wants the statues down.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mayor Landrieu to host 2016 budget community meetings

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 3:30 PM

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

It's "Budgeting for Outcomes" season. And it has come early.

The annual City of New Orleans budget process begins with a series of community meetings in each City Council district, and they usually are held in late August. This year, the meetings begin next week.

The meetings intend to create a "resident-driven budget" by hearing from residents in each council district. Following last year's meetings on the $537 million 2015 budget, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said residents wanted more funding for public safety, job creation, recreation and blight reduction. "We heard you loud and clear," he said last October in his budget address to the City Council.

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