New Orleans City Council

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jan. 14 declared Allen Toussaint Day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Allen Toussaint Day is Jan. 14, his birthday. - MICHAEL WILSON
  • MICHAEL WILSON
  • Allen Toussaint Day is Jan. 14, his birthday.

The New Orleans City Council today declared Jan. 14 Allen Toussaint Day, honoring the late songwriter and producer's birthday.

Toussaint — born Jan. 14, 1938 — died in November following a performance in Spain. He was 77. Hundreds of fans and fellow musicians gathered at the Orpheum Theater to pay their respects to the artist, the architect of New Orleans funk and a prolific, humble and stylish visionary in rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Parking meter rate hikes begin Jan. 11, with some changes

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 4:47 PM

KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to raise rates and extend hours for downtown parking meters begins Monday, Jan. 11 2016.

Landrieu's original plan — to double rates from $1.50 an hour to $3 hour and expand cutoff times from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. — changes only slightly, despite pleas from downtown workers, musicians and service and tourism industry groups. The rates will remain, but the extended hours will only go to 7 p.m.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Y@ Speak: the end of sports and monuments

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 12:38 PM

A bronze Tom Benson remains while a playoff-forbidden Saints soldier on and Confederate monuments do not. Drew Brees' biggest problem last week involved a Star Wars drone and Elf on the Shelf, while the city rallies around removing four controversial monuments, Royal Street is a restaurant-designated terror target, and, as per tradition, a mysteriously lonely Bunny Bread bunny signals the beginning of Christmas. 

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Orleans City Council votes to remove four Confederate statues

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 4:05 PM

Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.
  • Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.

Monuments depicting Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis as well as a memorial marker to the Battle of Liberty Place are coming down.

"We have the power and the right to correct these historical wrongs," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told members of New Orleans City Council. "The monuments do not now nor did they ever reflect the history, strength, richness, diversity and soul" of New Orleans. The decision is among the most sweeping efforts in the U.S. to remove or replace Confederate iconography.

The City Council voted 6-1 to remove the four monuments under a "nuisance" ordinance that applies to any public display 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." Landrieu – who signed the ordinance this afternoon — called for the monuments to be moved to a park or museum or a "proper place of remembrance, not reverence."

The vote followed months of focused, fiery debate and passionate reflection on what the history of those symbols mean to New Orleanians today — and today's hearing was no exception. Several people were escorted out of the City Council Chambers by police and public speakers and elected officials were booed and roasted. But that kind of loud introspection — from the council and the public — promised an opportunity to face the truths of the past while, Landrieu and councilmembers hope, embracing our neighbors.

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Your reactions: City Council votes 6-1 to remove Confederate monuments

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 2:17 PM

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After two hours of public comment and some emotional speeches by councilmembers, the New Orleans City Council today voted 6-1 to declare four Confederate monuments on public land to be a "nuisance," clearing the way for their removal.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has been pushing the ordinance for months, spoke to the council about his reasons and engaged in a testy back-and-forth with Council Vice President Stacy Head, who ended up being the sole 'nay' vote on the matter.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Twitter was atwitter with comment after the vote. Some of your reactions:



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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Final public meeting on Confederate monuments ignites explosive debate

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 9:55 PM

Police escort a speaker from the podium at another contentious meeting on the fate of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
  • Police escort a speaker from the podium at another contentious meeting on the fate of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

A final public hearing over a controversial ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments erupted in fiery debate and passionate reflection over the future of New Orleans and its relationship to the symbols those statues represent. 

Over nearly four hours, dozens of people approached the podium in a packed New Orleans City Council Chambers on Dec. 10 in support of the ordinance — which goes to a vote before the City Council on Dec. 17 — and against it, with many people wearing "All History Matters" stickers. Rev. Shawn Anglin of First United Methodist Church (which sits on Jefferson Davis Parkway) seemed to take the temperature of the room: "If there's one thing we learned today, it's that symbols have power."

Two people were removed by police — one, gallery owner George Schmidt, waved a middle finger to a crowd who were vocally upset with Schmidt comparing the monuments' removal to the actions of Muslims. Another man was removed after he shouted "We have to fight them" during another speaker supporting the monuments. He also blasted City Council President Jason WIlliams for pulling his turn to speak when the majority of monument supporters had left.

Williams — who had asked the crowd to respect one another's statements, despite disagreements — grew weary as the crowd remained unruly throughout nearly the entire meeting. Williams banged his gavel: "We are better than this!"

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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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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