New Orleans City Hall

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Election wrap: the good, the bad and the young

Posted by on Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 12:52 AM

The Feb. 1 citywide primary brought very good news to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, but Saturday's (March 15) runoff elections did not. While Landrieu won big in the primary with almost 64 percent of the vote, his chosen candidates in two City Council runoffs lost by large margins. All in all, it’s been a good election season for younger candidates who faced older opponents.

In the at-large council race for Division 2, District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge Morrell lost to attorney Jason Williams 68-32 percent. In Council District C, where incumbent Kristin Gisleson Palmer decided relatively late not to seek a second term, long-time Councilmember Jackie Clarkson fell to former Judge Nadine Ramsey by a 59-41 percent margin. The margin in District C closely tracks the district’s voter registration by race, although both Clarkson and Ramsey got their share of crossover votes.

Both Hedge Morrell and Clarkson have been staunch council allies of the mayor, who clearly will have to work a lot harder to cobble together a 4-vote majority on key issues in his second term.

There were two other seismic shifts in the politics of the council as a result of this election cycle: first, the council once again will have a five-vote African-American majority (which it had before Hurricane Katrina); and second, this election produced a generational shift on the council.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jason Williams wins City Council At-Large seat

Posted by on Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:05 PM

Jason Williams makes his victory speech.

Jason Williams claimed victory tonight in the March 15 runoff election for the New Orleans City Council At-Large Division 2 seat, edging out longtime councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Williams will be one of three freshmen members of the council following Nadine Ramsey's victory in District C against another longtime councilmember, Jackie Clarkson. Hedge-Morrell and Clarkson both received endorsements from Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Williams entered the building to Pharrell Williams' "Happy." Nearly 70 percent of votes went to Williams, who took to the podium for his victory speech thanking his family, campaign staff and volunteers. He said he was humbled by the turnout and voters. "The percentage by which we won, I'm humbled by it," he said.

"Everybody was working on this campaign. Everybody helped craft the vision," he said. "Public service against the machine. We broke the machine tonight."

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Y@ Speak: extreme makeover

Posted by on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Pierre the Pelican underwent reconstructive beak surgery to host The Tonight Show, the New Orleans Arena was Christened Smoothie King Center in time for the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend, Nike rolled out "gumbo" shoes, dachsunds replaced horses in races, and Krewe du Vieux revealed true colors — oh, and Ray Nagin may be wearing zebra stripes. That and more in this week's makeover edition of Y@ Speak.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nagin guilty in corruption trial

Posted by and on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans, surrounded by family and defense attorneys, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Ray Nagin leaves U.S. Federal Court in downtown New Orleans, surrounded by family and defense attorneys, after being found guilty on 20 of the 21 charges against him.

After six hours of deliberation over two days, the jury in former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's federal corruption trial returned this afternoon and found him guilty of conspiracy, money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud, six counts of bribery, and filing false tax returns from 2005-2007.

He was found not guilty of one of six counts of bribery, a $10,000 payment to his sons in 2009.

Prosecuting attorneys left the courthouse shortly after the verdict was read, not stopping to speak with reporters.

Ray Nagin walks with his family and defense team from federal court through Lafayette Square toward the law offices of his defense attorney, Robert Jenkins. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Ray Nagin walks with his family and defense team from federal court through Lafayette Square toward the law offices of his defense attorney, Robert Jenkins.

Nagin left court 90 minutes later with his wife Seletha Nagin and members of his defense team. Rather than leave in cars, Nagin and his defense team walked the two blocks to defense attorney Robert Jenkins' office on St. Charles Avenue. Nagin, looking grim and impassive, ignored shouted questions from reporters, saying only, "I maintain my innocence."

The only reaction the former mayor showed was to a passerby in Lafayette Square, who yelled, "We got your back, Ray!" Nagin briefly looked at the man and nodded his head.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan ordered Nagin to home detention. Sentencing will be in Berrigan's courtroom June 11 at 9 a.m.

Below the jump: the statement from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite's office.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Y@ Speak: "ready to get some truth out"

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM

The truth is hard to swallow, but here are a few mouthfuls. This week's Y@ Speak spits so much truth that I must ask you whether you can handle it. Ray Nagin, take it away...

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Last-minute debates before Saturday's election: Mayor and City Council District A

Posted by on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 2:11 PM


For those voters who may be undecided (or just didn't get enough of this Sneauxmageddon-interrupted election season): WWL-TV will be broadcasting a mayoral debate tonight between incumbent Mitch Landrieu and challengers Michael Bagneris and Danatus King. The station's Karen Swensen will moderate, and the panelists will be WWL-TV's Sally-Ann Roberts and Mike Hoss, as well as Stephanie Grace, columnist for The New Orleans Advocate.

The debate begins at 6 p.m. and will be repeated tomorrow night on WYES-TV at 10:30 p.m., as well as uploaded to

And the winter weather caused the cancellation of a couple of City Council forums, at least one of which has been rescheduled for the very last possible minute: Friday night. District A candidates will face off at 6 p.m. at St. Mary's Dominican High School (7701 Walmsley Ave. at Lowerline St.). The event is hosted by the Carrollton Area Network.

For more information on this year's races, read our profiles of the candidates and issues in the mayoral contest, the sheriff's race and the six City Council contests. Polls close Saturday night at 8 p.m. Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos will be on set at WWL-TV as the results come in, and Gambit reporters will be on Twitter reporting from various campaign parties and events around the city.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Storm 2014: Jan. 29 updates

Posted by on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

The Sneauxpocalypse. - YVONNE LOISELLE
  • The Sneauxpocalypse.

After a day and night of freezing temperatures and the infamous "wintry mix" of sleet, freezing rain and snow flurries around south Louisiana, the National Weather Service has canceled the winter storm warning. City officials regrouped this morning with updates and a report from the day's rare weather events — with a warning that icy conditions and a hard freeze warning will last until 9 a.m. tomorrow. An update on school, government and road closures is expected by 3 p.m. today.

"The sun will not be out to melt the ice," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. While temperatures are expected to rise slightly from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., they'll plunge again tonight, and today's cloud cover won't help melt any ice on roads and bridges. Landrieu and other officials warned residents to stay off the roads. "Take the risk if you like, but the risk is very, very high," Landrieu said.

The New Orleans Police Department responded to 59 accidents last night, 24 of which required EMS attention. Two accidents involved cars swerving into waterways to avoid pedestrians. The New Orleans Fire Department responded to one fire, started by a space heater. NOFD chief Timothy McConnell once again warned residents to use space heaters in well-ventilated areas.

Area shelters helped more than 700 people escape the cold last night. The city has reactivated its freeze plan for the homeless.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport director Iftikhar Ahmad said some flights are departing but to check with airlines before heading to MSY — and to use Airline Highway as an alternate route to the airport.

"We're not finished yet," Landrieu said. "We're still in harm's way, according to the National Weather Service."

Follow @nolaready on Twitter for city updates, and visit for a complete list of openings and closures. Below is a list of current road closures from the Louisiana State Police:

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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Orleans weighs in on noise ordinance

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 6:35 PM


The night before the New Orleans City Council was to discuss the controversial noise ordinance at a committee meeting Jan. 17, councilmembers withdrew it and postponed the meeting. This morning, the Housing and Human Needs committee planned to consider a stripped down version of the ordinance, tailored almost exclusively to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street — but that also was tabled. Instead, councilmembers took two hours of public comments — including from members of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO) and the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates (VCPORA) — and talked about what's next in the years-long debate over updates to the city's sound ordinance.

District C councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who has driven the redrafting process since she took office in 2010, said the ordinance as introduced last month was meant to gauge public opinion — which was not good, she said with a smile. The draft was "meant to further the conversation" and gather feedback, she said. She added that David Woolworth, the acoustician hired by the City Council to issue a report with recommendations last year, will work with the City Council through 2014. Palmer also addressed other cities' recent, and frequent, adaptations to their noise laws, including updates in Miami and New York, and whether New Orleans would follow their lead. "With all due respect to those cities, neither has the diversity of music New Orleans has," Palmer said.

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City details preparedness plans, issues list of closures and emergency numbers in advance of storm

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 5:53 PM

New Orleans officials and emergency managers briefed the public Monday afternoon about the approaching winter storm.
  • New Orleans officials and emergency managers briefed the public Monday afternoon about the approaching winter storm.

After this afternoon's press conference about the winter storm expected to hit southern Louisiana Tuesday and Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office detailed the city's emergency plans.

Below the jump: information about the city's freeze plan, precautions to take, possible road and bridge closures and important numbers to know.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Curbside recycling pickup will resume in French Quarter and CBD

Posted by on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials today announced the return of curbside recycling pickup in the French Quarter and CBD, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 28. Progressive Waste Solutions will perform pickups weekly. The service will reach more than 4,000 locations, according to Landrieu.

The New Orleans Sanitation Department will host two bin pickups, where residents and business owners can pickup their free 18-gallon blue bins. People participating must bring proof of residence, such as a driver's license or utility bill. (Residents can also use existing or purchased 18-gallon blue bins with the recycling logo.) The locations and times for bin pickup are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at Armstrong Park's Basin Street entrance, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 at City Hall.

Recyclable materials include paper products and cardboard and plastic and small metal containers. The program does not include glass recycling (or pizza boxes). For more information, visit the city's sanitation website.

Glass recycling is available through Phoenix Recycling, and you can bring glass to Target stores.

Residents outside the French Quarter and CBD are eligible for curbside recycling pickup through Metro Disposal and Richard's Disposal. Landrieu announced recycling would return to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina at his April 2011 state of the city address, and more than 20,000 people signed up for bins in the program's first week the following month.


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