New Orleans City Council

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
  • 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 2, 2015

City Council presses NOPD after New Orleans restaurant robberies

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Gunmen robbed patrons and the cash register at Patois in August. Similar robberies followed at Atchafalaya and Monkey Hill Bar.
  • Gunmen robbed patrons and the cash register at Patois in August. Similar robberies followed at Atchafalaya and Monkey Hill Bar.

Members of the New Orleans City Council have received several complaints and calls to action to address robberies at two Uptown restaurants and one barroom. The Council pulled together a special Criminal Justice Committee meeting with New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) top brass to ask why these crimes are happening, and what other resources NOPD needs.

District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry said the robberies and other recent violent crimes are "highly disturbing and have everyone on edge" and there's a sense that "violence is around every corner."

"The rash of robberies in high-profile establishments is not why we’re here today," said Council President Jason Williams Jason Williams. "The issue is they were brazen, they were planned, and the risk of harm to others is so high."

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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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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Anonymous donor could fund Confederate monument removals; Chief Harrison calls Liberty Place statue "shameful"

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 11:55 AM

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

Removing New Orleans' Confederate landmarks could cost the city $126,000 to remove and relocate — and an anonymous donor already is committed to pay up. According to Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin, after estimating the cost, a donor is lined up to pay for the removal of four controversial monuments — Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway , P.G.T. Beauregard at City Park, Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, and the Battle of Liberty Place monument.

Opponents of the statues' removal have argued the cost would fall on taxpayers, and the city would be better off using the money for police and other essential services. In a "fiscal impact" letter sent to the New Orleans City Council, Kopplin wrote, "it is true that these landmarks have served for decades as geographic compass points on the city's grid, but how can this geographic compass compare to a great city's moral compass?"

"These four statues stand in direct contradiction to the ideal of freedom enshrined in our Constitution and their presence in our city was meant to perpetuate a false history that literally puts the Confederacy on a pedestal," he said. "True remembrance is required, not blind reverence."

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Orleans church leaders call for Confederate monument removal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:05 PM

Members of Clergy for a United City stand outside First United Methodist Church to support removing and replacing Confederate landmarks in New Orleans. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Members of Clergy for a United City stand outside First United Methodist Church to support removing and replacing Confederate landmarks in New Orleans.

Nearly 100 pastors, clergy and other faith leaders in the New Orleans area have signed a letter supporting the city's attempt to remove four Confederate monuments. 

"As spiritual leaders of New Orleans, we know the power of symbols, which is why we stand in support of their removal," the letter reads. "In their current state, lacking any proper context, these monuments do not teach us about the past. They reflect a deafening silence about Jim Crow culture."

This morning outside First Grace United Methodist Church (on the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway), several pastors representing the Clergy for a United City said the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has brought the country together to address these symbols' meanings and "their continued existence, for which we are now accountable."

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Orleans City Council committee green lights short term rental study

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 5:30 PM

click image CREATIVE COMMONS/OUISHARE
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/OUISHARE

If the next round of short-term rental regulation efforts fails, New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large Stacy Head says she's "walking away."

"I'm extremely disappointed at the vitriol and emotion and lack of reason that has become the norm in this discussion," she said at today's Community Development Committee meeting. "I am not going to be party to sucking the efforts of city government and my staff away from more important tasks."

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Orleans City Council to request short-term rental study

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 4:30 PM

A crowd gathered outside a meeting hosted by a short-term rental opposition group on Aug. 6. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A crowd gathered outside a meeting hosted by a short-term rental opposition group on Aug. 6.

New Orleans City Council members Stacy Head and Nadine Ramsey want to task the city with studying current and new rules for short-term rentals. The council members plan to introduce a motion at the council's Community Development Committee tomorrow asking the City Planning Commission (CPC) to look into regulations for short-term rentals (aka Airbnb-type rental units) within the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance "from a land-use perspective, in light of municipal regulatory schemes recently enacted by local government entities around the United States."

According to the motion, the CPC will be asked to consider whether the current definition of "short-term rentals" should be amended in the CZO, as well as limitations for sizes, number of rooms and units for short-term rentals — and whether to even allow them, make them conditional use or a permitted use. The City Council plans to implement "permitting and enforcement" rules to work with the land-use regulation of short-term rentals, and ensure "comprehensive regulation" of short-term rentals consistent with the CZO.

After its passage, the CPC will have 60 days to hold a public meeting, and it must complete its study and send its report to the City Council within 120 days.

The Community Development Meeting meets at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19. The full City Council is expected to pass the motion at its meeting Thursday, Aug. 20.

Read the motion here: M-15-391_STR_Study_Head_and_Ramsey_signed__3_.pdf

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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
  • 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 www.nola.gov/hdlc or www.nola.gov/hrc. Those comments must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 to be entered into the record.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Orleans bicyclists hold "die-in" outside City Hall

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Bicyclists staged a "die-in" outside City Hall to draw attention to bicyclists' deaths and to demand more action from city officials. - PHOTOS BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTOS BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Bicyclists staged a "die-in" outside City Hall to draw attention to bicyclists' deaths and to demand more action from city officials.

Timothy Wade played a bagpipe across from New Orleans City Hall on a mound of grass in Duncan Plaza. Bicyclists finished spray painting a ghost bike — a memorial, provided by members of the Bad News Bike Club, to recognize New Orleans bicyclists killed by cars, and as a message to city officials that bicyclists' lives are in danger in New Orleans.

"They don't know the hell we go through," said event organizer Alexander Fleming. "It's about time they know."

Wade led a procession as people carried the bike to mount to a street sign outside City Hall, where bicyclists held a "die-in" with their bikes at their side while the names of bicyclists killed in 2015 were read. Several dozen people flanked both sides of the steps outside City Hall.

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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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