New Orleans City Council

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fines approved for marijuana possession

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Getting caught with a joint in New Orleans is likely to result in a fine, not handcuffs, following the the passage of a citywide ordinance reducing penalties for simple possession.

A measure from District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry, who also chairs the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, introduces fines for possessing fewer than 14 grams of pot: $40 for a first offense, $60 for a second offense, $80 for a third, and $100 for a fourth and subsequent offenses. The measure received unanimous support from councilmembers and is expected to get Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s approval; it goes into effect 90 days later.

Nearly 30 New Orleans musicians — including Kermit Ruffins and Phil Frazier of Rebirth Brass Band — endorsed the measure, which also has the support of marijuana advocacy and criminal justice reform organizations.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

New penalties for pot possession set for New Orleans City Council vote on March 17

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 2:35 PM


Smoking a joint in New Orleans could land you a fine, not an arrest, if the New Orleans City Council approves an ordinance that reduces penalties for simple pot possession.

In January, District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry introduced a measure to expand a 2010 ordinance that gives police officers more discretion in handing first-time offenders a municipal summons. Her new measure extends that discretion to all simple possession offenses, whether for a first strike or fourth (or fifth, or sixth).

Under those proposed rules, officers have the discretion to give verbal and written warnings for first and second possessions of 14 grams or less of marijuana. But today, council members approved Guidry's amendment that turns those warnings into fines. The latest draft of the ordinance includes $40 for a first offense, $60 for a second, $80 for a third and $100 for fourth and subsequent offenses.

"It has become clear to me that the provision in the original draft, the warning provisions ... are not practical or possible at this time," said Guidry, adding that police don’t have the resources to track previous warnings and subsequent offenses. Voting on the ordinance, however, "is too important to delay," she said.

Guidry stressed that officers still would have the discretion to apply state law to possession arrests. "This ordinance, especially as amended, would not limit anything about current police practices or procedures," she said. "This law would merely extend that choice to all possessions."

The council held off from voting on the newly amended ordinance — the council votes Thursday, March 17.

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Lyft launches in New Orleans area

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The app-based ride service Lyft (featuring tell-tale pink mustaches on its cars) launches in New Orleans on March 3. - COURTESY LYFT
  • The app-based ride service Lyft (featuring tell-tale pink mustaches on its cars) launches in New Orleans on March 3.

Ride-hailing app Lyft hits New Orleans streets at noon Thursday, March 3. Drivers will begin offering rides in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. Tammany parishes. Lyft won't offer rides to or from Louis Armstrong International Airport yet, but company representatives say they're working on an arragement with MSY.

The company — which has roughly 315,000 drivers picking up 5 million passengers a year in 200 cities — now shares the road with its other app-based competitor Uber. Lyft users use a peer-to-peer service on the iOS or Android app by hailing a ride from nearby drivers (in pink mustache-equipped cars) with payment all handled through a mobile device.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Orleans parking tickets are going up

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM

click image New Orleans parking ticket fines are being raised from $20 to $30, then $60 after 30 days, then $90 after 60. - DEREK BRIDGES/FLICKR
  • New Orleans parking ticket fines are being raised from $20 to $30, then $60 after 30 days, then $90 after 60.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration compromised on its plan to increase downtown parking meter fees by shortening the time — the meters were originally set to expire at 10 p.m., but after debate among service workers and the New Orleans City Council, the city agreed to end enforcement at 7 p.m. But to make up for that lost time, the city proposed hiking parking ticket fees from $20 to $30.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New rules reduce penalties for pot possession

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Pot smokers might receive only verbal and written warnings instead of fines and jail time if the New Orleans City Council gets behind a proposed ordinance to reduce penalties for simple pot possession.

District A Councilmember Susan Guidry — who helped pass a 2010 ordinance giving officers more discretion in giving first-time offenders a municipal summons instead of arresting them — introduced a new measure today in the Council's Criminal Justice Committee that expands those rules for all simple possession offenses, whether a first strike or fourth. The measure aims to free up the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to focus on violent crime.

Under the new rules, officers can give a verbal warning for smokers with less than 14 grams of marijuana. A second offense carries a written warning, a third violation includes a fine of no more than $50, and a fourth offense carries a fine of no more than $100.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Judge denies request to halt Confederate monument removal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM

The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004. - BART EVERSON/FLICKR
  • The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004.
The City of New Orleans is now free to begin removing four controversial Confederate landmarks. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has denied a request from several parties that filed suit after the New Orleans City Council approved Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plans to begin removing the four monuments — Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place.

Barbier's pending denial was forecasted during a Jan. 14 hearing in which he verbally swatted down nearly every argument from the plaintiffs, which include the Louisiana Landmark Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,

The suit challenged Mayor Mitch Landrieu and federal agencies by arguing that “the city intentionally discriminated against defenders of these four monuments,” among a dozen other challenges — including that moving them would damage them, and that the federally funded streetcar lines should protect the two monuments near them. The suit also alleges that the city violated due process and equal protection. Barbier dismissed all of the above.

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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
  • 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


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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