New Orleans City Hall

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bush, Clinton visits added to Hurricane Katrina 10th anniversary events

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Yesterday it was announced President Barack Obama would be coming to New Orleans Aug. 27 to tour the city on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Now former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton will be coming to New Orleans next week as well to participate in some of the commemoration ceremonies.

Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush will visit Warren Easton Charter School Aug. 28 for an education round table discussion, at which the former president also will offer remarks. Clinton will come to the "Power of Community" event Aug. 29 at Smoothie King Center, the city's main event in the weeklong Katrina commemoration. Faith leaders and many New Orleans musicians will perform, and journalist Soledad O'Brien will host. The event is open to the public and free, and organizers say tickets are available at city libraries, or can be reserved via the city's website.

These are only two of many events — official and unofficial — going on next week as part of the Katrina commemoration. Our list of community events is here, and under the jump is the city's list of official events, and how you can attend.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Confederate statues receive recommendation for removal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 6:32 PM

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

Update: A second city committee, the Human Relations Commission, also recommended the statues' removal at its meeting following the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Its recommendation will be sent to the full New Orleans City Council. 

The New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) recommended today that four Confederate monuments "may be removed" following a push from Mayor Mitch Landrieu as well as the New Orleans City Council to consider the statues' futures. The HDLC voted 11-1.

The monuments include P.G.T. Beauregard outside City Park, Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, and a monument commemorating the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place.

The City Council passed a resolution considering the statues a "nuisance" based on a 1993 ordinance that calls for the removal of property 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." Judy Reese Morse and Scott Hutcheson from the mayor's office said the monuments represent the Lost Cause following the Civil War, in that they were erected during racially divisive Reconstruction efforts to nobilize the cause and have become symbols of white supremacy and ideologies that continue to oppress minorities. Morse said the discussion isn't so much about the men represented by the monuments but "the ideology that caused their monuments to be erected in the first place."

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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
  • 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 or Those comments must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 to be entered into the record.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Editorial: A failure to communicate

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:08 AM


Cedric Grant, director of the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB), held a press conference last week to address the city’s latest boil-water alert, which was issued at 10 a.m. on July 24. The alert came a full seven hours after power went out at the Carrollton water plant, potentially allowing for contamination of the East Bank water supply. Grant promised to do better next time and said the city is midway through upgrades at the Carrollton plant.

What Grant didn’t address is his agency’s failure to inform citizens in a timely manner.

The boil-water order was issued on a Friday morning (after residents had their coffee, brushed their teeth, showered, etc.) and continued overnight. There was a run on bottled water at local stores; restaurants and bars had to adjust at their own expense. Not a word came from the city for the rest of the day. The next morning, 24 hours later, the city sent an email saying water samples were still being tested. Then, more silence.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Council President Jason Williams calls special meeting to discuss boil-water advisory

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 5:47 PM

A sign on the door of a New Orleans coffeehouse during a boil-water advisory in 2013. Last weekend's boil-water advisory for the entire East Bank of New Orleans, which lasted 31 hours, inconvenienced residents as well as restaurants, hotels and other businesses, which found few updates on the situation.
  • A sign on the door of a New Orleans coffeehouse during a boil-water advisory in 2013. Last weekend's boil-water advisory for the entire East Bank of New Orleans, which lasted 31 hours, inconvenienced residents as well as restaurants, hotels and other businesses, which found few updates on the situation.

New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams, who also chairs the council's Utility Committee, has called a a special meeting tomorrow to discuss last weekend's boil-water advisory on the East Bank of New Orleans — and the Sewerage & Water Board's response to the issue. 

The advisory was issued Friday, July 24 at 10 a.m., about seven hours after a power surge at the S&WB's Carrollton plant fell below 15 pounds per square inch, which is considered an unsafe level. The advisory was issued after many residents had awoken, had coffee, brushed their teeth, showered and gone to work — and it continued throughout the day and evening, forcing businesses to use bottled water or find workarounds. After an initial press conference about the advisory, the city was silent, providing no updates as the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals tested samples.

On Saturday morning, 24 hours after the event, City Hall sent out an email saying that water samples still were being tested. Then officials went silent again. During that time, Gambit was unable to reach anyone at the S&WB's 24-hour hotline; the city's 311 line went to a recording; and the city website was not updated.

Moreover, @NOLAReady, the city's emergency preparedness Twitter account, updated on the situation once in the morning and then was silent until the advisory was lifted. Another Twitter account, @SWBNOLA, to which people had been tweeting their complaints and concerns, was deleted July 25 in the midst of the advisory, though city officials question whether that was an official account. (Brad Howard, an aide to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, says the only account to carry official S&WB news is @NOLAReady. "We coordinate all emergency and critical information during @NOLAReady," Howard told Gambit this afternoon.)

The advisory lasted 31 hours, during which the city issued exactly three press releases (one at the beginning, one on Saturday morning and one at the end). 

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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
  • 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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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mayor Landrieu to host 2016 budget community meetings

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

It's "Budgeting for Outcomes" season. And it has come early.

The annual City of New Orleans budget process begins with a series of community meetings in each City Council district, and they usually are held in late August. This year, the meetings begin next week.

The meetings intend to create a "resident-driven budget" by hearing from residents in each council district. Following last year's meetings on the $537 million 2015 budget, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said residents wanted more funding for public safety, job creation, recreation and blight reduction. "We heard you loud and clear," he said last October in his budget address to the City Council.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

NOPD officers to receive 10 percent raises by 2016

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

With a projected revenue forecast to bring in an addition $14.6 million to the city, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced this afternoon two police pay raises to kick in this summer.

Landrieu proposed raises for officers of all rank within the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the first of which begins with a 5 percent raise July 1, followed by another 5 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2016. These raises follow a 5 percent raise in the 2015 city budget, creating a 15 percent overall pay raise for 2015 and into 2016. The announcement follows the NOPD's aggressive hiring campaign and wavering morale and retention issues within the department. According to the city, the raises are intended to address officer retention and recruitment.

How did the city land an additional $15 million? According to the city, the revenue projection comes from "continued cuts and reorganization in City government and a very strong third and fourth quarter sales tax growth that showed the impact of the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, the two additional Walmarts and numerous other new and expanded retailers."

Late last year, as the New Orleans City Council approved the city budget with a 5 percent pay raise, the Police Association of New Orleans and the Fraternal Order of Police pressed for a bigger raise, as it wasn't significant enough to address attrition in the ranks.

The FOP's Donovan Livaccari told Gambit that today's announcement is a "step in the right direction."

"It sends a clear message to officers to continue service, and it sends a message to potential police offers that you should come work for the police department," he said. "It's a more tangible raise for officers and something they'll actually be able to see after the taxes and so forth, something that will make a real impact in the lives of these officers."

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


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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Monday, April 20, 2015

Michelle Obama congratulates New Orleans on ending veteran homelessness

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 2:44 PM


First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama commended New Orleans' efforts to eliminate veteran homelessness, which officials say is the first in the country to do so. Obama was the guest of honor at a conference this morning at Gallier Hall, attended by a host of city officials, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, police superintendent Michael Harrison and members of the New Orleans City Council.

Obama and Jill Biden launched an initiative among U.S. mayors to reduce veteran homelessness in their cities by the end of 2015, with President Barack Obama also aiming to end veteran homelessness nationwide. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says the city — with a partnership involving federal, state and local nonprofit agencies — was able to house more than 200 veterans by the end of 2014 by using a "housing first" system. The Landrieu administration says another 42 veterans have been housed since January.

"We seem to resign ourselves to a reluctant acceptance of this reality," Obama said. "We feel badly about it, we know it is not right, but we've almost come to believe this problem is too big, too entrenched, to ever solve. I want to be very clear. The vasty majority of veterans who return whom, they come home in good health, in good spirits, they go on to build strong families and good jobs, and they keep serving. ... But even one homeless veteran is an outrage. And when we have tens of thousands of veterans who don't have somewhere to go when in rains, that is a stain on our nation. ... When they come home kissing the ground, none of them should ever have to sleep on it."

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