New Orleans City Council

Monday, May 18, 2015

Y@ Speak: disrupting

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 12:05 PM


Y@ Speak is back from a short break and is ready to disrupt the Twitter industry with sweeping changes in the delivery of great content by continuing to provide the tweets you want, when you want them (on most Mondays, exclusively around noon-ish). In this week's edition, termites are probably still in your shirt, we say goodbye to Monty Williams, Gov. Bobby Jindal does things, and goats go to Bayou Boogaloo.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Orleans literacy programs could hang in the balance with May 2 vote on library funding

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 5:45 PM

COURTESY TURN THE PAGE
  • COURTESY TURN THE PAGE

New Orleans aims to be one of the most literate cities in the U.S. by its tricentennial celebrations in 2018. But more than 40 percent of the city's adults struggle with basic literacy, and the New Orleans Community Data Center estimates that more than a quarter of the city's workforce struggles with basic reading, writing and computer comprehension.

The New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) is leading the effort to improve literacy in the city. The library's foundation supports its literacy programs Turn The Page and Every Child Ready To Read, a pre-literacy program that works with daycares, parents and other caregivers to instill the importance of reading and prepare children to learn how to read. The library also offers space free-of-charge to literacy programs from the YMCA. Last year, as NOPL presented its budget to the New Orleans City Council, the YMCA Educational Services program director said losing that space would be disastrous.

Now NOPL stares down a vote on Saturday, May 2 when New Orleanians will decide whether to support a 2.5-mill property tax to fund the libraries, their programs and services. If that fails, will the city and the library have to adjust its 2018 timeline?

"We would," said library director Charles Brown. "It certainly would have an impact on it."

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Orleans officials celebrate the end of smoking in bars and casinos

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 12:00 PM

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"Inhale, Exhale, Repeat Safely" — that slogan now hangs above Poydras Street across from the Superdome as the New Orleans smoke- and vape-free ordinance goes into effect today. It'll remain there for 30 days. Under direction of a new citywide smoke-free ordinance, New Orleans bars and Harrah's Casino turned on the "no smoking" signs at midnight last night. City leaders, health advocates and health care officials celebrated the bar's effective date — April 22, 2015 — on the top level of the Superdome's parking garage directly across from the signage.

District B councilmember LaToya Cantrell, who authored the legislation, thanked city officials for getting on board, and she also thanked the bars and Harrah's for "taking bold steps in making smoke-free environments." (Harrah's installed new signage advertising itself as the "best smoke-free casino" and handed out lollipops to gamblers at the stroke of midnight.)

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Smoking ban kicks in at midnight: What you need to know

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 2:46 PM

Get used to seeing this sign around New Orleans as the new smoking ordinance goes into effect. - CITY OF NEW ORLEANS
  • CITY OF NEW ORLEANS
  • Get used to seeing this sign around New Orleans as the new smoking ordinance goes into effect.

After months of sometimes (OK, usually) heated discussion about the new ordinance banning smoking (and vaping) in nearly every bar in New Orleans, the law is set to take effect at midnight tonight, and the city has launched a web page to explain it all.

The group Smoke Free NOLA will celebrate and take a victory lap with a free "Smokefree Kickoff" free music show tomorrow night (April 23) at Le Bon Temps Roule with Paul Sanchez, Deacon John and other musicians.

Here's what you need to know before tomorrow:

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Harrah's and French Quarter bars sue the City of New Orleans in smoking ban dispute

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 4:30 PM

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Harrah's Casino and many French Quarter bars and clubs have filed a suit against the City of New Orleans to halt the impending smoking ban set to take effect April 22. The suit was filed in Civil District Court, which has set a hearing date for the case on May 21. The court, however, denied Harrah's request for a restraining order that aimed to stop the ordinance before it was to take effect.

With no immediate barriers in its way, the smoke-free ordinance — which imposes smoke-free rules in all bars and casinos and public places — will go into effect this Wednesday. City officials — including ordinance author and District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, Health Department Director Charlotte Parent, and health advocates within the Smoke-Free New Orleans Coalition — will host a press conference that morning to celebrate the new law.

Harrah's has pushed for a compromise measure to allow smoking in parts of its casino and has threatened to renegotiate the terms of its lease with the city if the ban persists. Harrah's also warned that fewer smokers in the casino could create a revenue shortfall that would trickle-down to police and fire protection, education, and loss of employees. As first reported by The New Orleans Advocate's Jeff Adelson, Harrah's joined more than 50 businesses, including Pat O'Briens, Tropical Isle, Court of Two Sisters, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, Bombay Club, and many others, in filing a suit to throw out the ban.

French Quarter Business League president Alex Fine says despite the City Council's efforts to listen to their pleas, it did not fully "consider the ramifications of any ban that is passed," including an anticipated 20 percent drop in revenue among businesses, according to Fine. "They gave us the opportunity but did not take enough time to analyze the data and come to a conclusion that is fair to everybody," he said, adding that the council has not made plans to offset the loss. "They never vetted that completely, and that's why we're here," Fine said. 

Without a restraining order to hold back the smoke-free laws until the suit is resolved, Harrah's and New Orleans bars will have a month of experience under the law before they head to court.

"We've been preparing for any outcome, whether it goes into effect or we have to delay," Fine said.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

City Council passes ridesharing ordinance, but Uber and Lyft representatives still dissatisfied

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Supporters of Uber and Lyft flooded the City Council chambers at City Hall today. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • Supporters of Uber and Lyft flooded the City Council chambers at City Hall today.

Today, after months of debate and reconfiguring, the New Orleans City Council passed a ridesharing ordinance that would allow digitally-based transportation companies to start giving rides in the city. The vote was 4-2, with Councilmembers Nadine Ramsey and James Gray opposed. Council President Stacy Head was absent.

But both Uber and Lyft, ridesharing businesses that have been instrumental in getting the legislation off the ground, told Gambit they likely would be unable to operate due to 85 amendments made to the ordinance. 

Both Uber and Lyft are particularly dissatisfied with amendment 85, a provision that would prevent transportation network companies or TNCs (the newly minted, digitally-based, for hire companies the ordinance creates) from interfering with passenger or driver litigation. That amendment gives local passengers the right to litigate here in New Orleans as opposed to traveling out of state to litigate binding arbitration.

"The eleventh-hour changes make it very difficult to operate in the market," Michael Masserman, Lyft's director of government relations, told Gambit. "Not just for Lyft and Uber but for anyone in the ridesharing industry. There's potentially overly burdensome litigation costs and insurance measures that have been legislated ahead of or before the private sector." 

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ridesharing amendments passed on to full City Council without recommendation

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 4:15 PM

Cab driver Dolores Montgomery tells the Transportation and Airport Committee that she knows financial hardship. "I'm in my cab seven days a week," she said. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • Cab driver Dolores Montgomery tells the Transportation and Airport Committee that she knows financial hardship. "I'm in my cab seven days a week," she said.

Following presentations from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, Uber, the ridesharing platform Lyft and dozens of public comments, the New Orleans City Council Transportation and Airport Committee voted today to pass amendments to a ridesharing ordinance on to the full council without recommendation. 

The ordinance, to be decided by the full City Council on April 9, would create a special class of vehicles-for-hire for newly named Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). These would include app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, both of which had representatives and Uber T-shirt-clad supporters at the meeting. Uber organized a small rally outside of City Hall the hour before it began, serving coffee and donuts to supporters, as it has done before nearly every Council meeting in which ridesharing has been discussed since last February. 

At the meeting, Uber held up plastic bins with 10,000 blue and white ping pong balls, which the company said represented the 10,000 signatures on a petition demanding the service in New Orleans. 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Orleans City Council to vote April 9 on ride-app services like Lyft and Uber

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 5:26 PM

A Lyft car drives through San Francisco. The privately owned vehicles easily are recognizable due to the whimsical pink mustaches on the front bumpers. - CREATIVE COMMONS/RAIDO
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/RAIDO
  • A Lyft car drives through San Francisco. The privately owned vehicles easily are recognizable due to the whimsical pink mustaches on the front bumpers.


New Orleans might have ride-app services like Uber and Lyft in time for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, if City Councilmembers Jared Brossett and Susan Guidry get their way. Brossett (who is the chair of the council's Transportation and Airport Committee) and Guidry have set April 9 as the date when legislation will be proposed "to legalize transportation network services in the City of New Orleans."

That date, Brossett said in a statement, was in response to more than 50 proposed amendments to the legislation, which was introduced in early March. Those amendments came from "stakeholders" in the legislation, Brossett said, including ride-app companies and, presumably, the local taxi industry, which has objected to the ride-app services. As Gambit's Jeanie Riess wrote at the time:
The ordinance would create a new class of for-hire vehicles called "Transportation Network Companies" (TNCs). It also proposes a formal registry of drivers, a fee of $15,000 a year per company, and a mileage fee of 50 cents per pickup paid to the city. It would require drivers to have a Louisiana driver's license and undergo the same background checks and drug tests as cab drivers. 
The Transportation and Airport Committee will first discuss the ordinance and possible amendments at an April 1 meeting, before passing it to the full council at the council's regular meeting April 9. It's unclear which of those provisions would be affected by any proposed amendments.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

New Orleans City Council prepares to tackle the noise ordinance — again

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 4:15 PM


Glen David Andrews, right, during a noise ordinance protest inside New Orleans City Council chambers at City Hall in January 2014. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • Glen David Andrews, right, during a noise ordinance protest inside New Orleans City Council chambers at City Hall in January 2014.

Despite a grueling, contentious two-year effort to update the city's noise ordinance, the New Orleans City Council fell short last year when it failed even to pass a whittled-down version, focused only on Bourbon Street.

Now District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey — who replaced outgoing Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer in the district seat representing the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny — is introducing new legislation to tackle noise in the French Quarter. While Ramsey's ordinance largely picks up where the council had left off, there are some tweaks to the measure.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

City Council creates pedestrian/bike safety committee

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 5:36 PM

A "ghost bike" at the corner of St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues marks the spot where a cyclist was struck and killed by a truck. Incidents like this one last year led to the formation of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee by the New Orleans City Council. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • A "ghost bike" at the corner of St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues marks the spot where a cyclist was struck and killed by a truck. Incidents like this one last year led to the formation of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee by the New Orleans City Council.

The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously today to establish a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee, as proposed by Transportation and Airport Committee chairman Jared Brossett. The committee will provide recommendations to the council pertaining to transportation safety concerns in accordance with the Vision Zero policy the council adopted in October 2014.

Vision Zero, a policy pitched by non-profit transportation advocacy groups Bike Easy and RIDE New Orleans, aims to educate the public and improve public infrastructure with a goal of eliminate traffic-related death. Vision Zero started in Sweden and has been adopted by American cities like New York, San Francisco and Houston.

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