News & Politics

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Orleans JCC bomb threat follows wave of anti-Semitism in U.S.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM

click image The Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue in 2011. - INFROGMATION
  • INFROGMATION
  • The Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue in 2011.

Young children, seniors and staff were ordered to leave the Jewish Community Center (JCC) on St. Charles Avenue following a bomb threat called into the center this morning. The threat is among more than 60 similar threats at Jewish centers across the U.S. in 2017.

"The reported bomb threat at JCC deemed non-credible, is clear. FBI is investigating," Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote on Twitter. "Be clear, anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in NOLA."

While the bombs themselves are "hoaxes," the threats and waves of anti-Semitism across the U.S., as the Jewish Community Center Association of North America has said, are very real. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Director John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey, Florida U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy and New York U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley — along with dozens of members of Congress and Jewish-led groups — demanded swift federal action.

"Federal law enforcement agencies must do everything within their power to punish those responsible for the threats that have already taken place, to prevent future threats from occurring, and to ensure these threats are never converted into action," Murphy said. "These phone calls have a severe economic, as well as emotional, impact."

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall: Fractious and furious constituents shout down the senator

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 8:02 PM

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy at a fractious town hall today in Metairie. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy at a fractious town hall today in Metairie.

Town halls around the country are fractious affairs these days for Republican members of Congress, but the crowd of hundreds that showed up at the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library in Metairie today for a town hall with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy was so raucous and furious that CNN began carrying it live.

People began arriving around noon to line up and hold a parking lot rally before the doors opened at 3 p.m., so attendees already were tired of waiting when Cassidy arrived 22 minutes late to the 3:30 p.m. town hall. The senator apologized, saying he was touring New Orleans tornado damage, an explanation that didn't go over well in the crowd of 200 or so who were allowed in, which jeered and booed him. And that was just the start.

"If all you want to do is vent," Cassidy said early on, "this will not be profitable."

They did. It wasn't.

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City Council defers vote on rental registry to March 9

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 4:35 PM

New Orleans City Councilmembers LaToya Cantrell and Jason Williams at a press conference outside City Hall before debate over a proposed rental registry.
  • New Orleans City Councilmembers LaToya Cantrell and Jason Williams at a press conference outside City Hall before debate over a proposed rental registry.

The New Orleans City Council will delay a vote on a rental registry and inspection program to next month. At-Large Councilmember Jason Williams and District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell sponsored a measure that would require landlords of most private rentals to register their properties with the city and subject them to inspections that must meet a checklist of health and safety requirements before they can be rented out. The City Council deferred voting on the measure last month, and it will defer the measure again to March 9 at its meeting on Feb. 23.

Cantrell and Williams will "continue to work on the legislation with their fellow Councilmembers and with New Orleans citizens to ensure the best ordinance going forward," according to the City Council's agenda announcement.

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Slideshow: Protesters, supporters at Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 3:05 PM

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Congressional town hall meetings have become heaty affairs back home, and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall today at the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Public Library is no exception. Several hundred people — mostly protesters — gathered outside starting at noon for the event, which was not scheduled to begin until 3:30 p.m.

Here are a few of the signs and people in the crowd.

Slideshow
Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today
Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today

Scenes from Sen. Bill Cassidy's town hall in Metairie today


By Kevin Allman

Click to View 7 slides


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Special election for Troy Brown's vacated Senate seat set for April 29

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:23 PM

Louisiana Senate President John Alario.
  • Louisiana Senate President John Alario.
Since Troy Brown stepped down last week as state Senator from District 2 (covering parts of several parishes south of Baton Rouge), the seat is empty heading into the regular legislative session that begins in April. Today Louisiana Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, called a special election to fill the District 2 seat.

Qualifying will be held March 15-17, and the election will be April 29. Should a runoff be needed, it will be held May 27.

In the year and a half before his resignation, Brown, D-Napoleonville, pleaded no contest to charges involving physical abuse of his wife and another woman described as a "side friend" during two separate incidents. Until last week, Brown had vowed to stay in office, despite competing resolutions in the Senate calling for his expulsion and suspension.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Progressive strikes take shape this week in New Orleans and across the U.S.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 3:25 PM

Strikes are an alternative or work in tandem with formal protests like this Jan. 29 rally against Trump immigration policies. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • KAT STROMQUIST
  • Strikes are an alternative or work in tandem with formal protests like this Jan. 29 rally against Trump immigration policies.

With varying degrees of success, demonstrations in New Orleans and across the U.S. this week experimented with the idea of strikes as a tool for activists who object to the policies of President Donald Trump and his administration.

Yesterday, Ideal Markets and at least one restaurant in the city closed in solidarity with A Day Without Immigrants, a national demonstration planned in opposition the Trump administration's anti-immigration stance and the recent executive order which attempted to ban immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. The demonstration as a whole captured widespread media attention and included strikes and closures from outposts of national brands such as McDonald's.

Strike4Democracy, a general strike scheduled for Feb. 17, gained some ground nationally — but seemed to falter in New Orleans.

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The Front hosts "Not My President's Day" party Feb. 20

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 11:59 AM

"Undiez," by guest artist Artemis Antippas.
  • "Undiez," by guest artist Artemis Antippas.

Presidents' Day honors currency stalwarts George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but it's also a good day to think about American traditions — like, say, protesting in the face of obvious injustice. In that spirit, The Front hosts a "Not My President's Day" party responding to the contentious political climate.

That evening, the gallery and the Bad Hombres and Nasty Women Performance Network host improvisational performances, puppetry, political art and more at a gathering where artists and participants can discuss activism and protest. The event is a local version of the political engagement seen at galleries large and small nationwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art's pointed display of artists' works from countries affected by President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

The party is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 20. Costumes are encouraged and admission is free.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Orleans businesses close in solidarity with Day Without Immigrants

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Ideal Market. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Ideal Market.

New Orleans businesses and residents joined a national Day Without Immigrants demonstration against anti-immigration efforts from President Donald Trump, who has battled courts over his ban on refugee entry and on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries while expanding policing operations that target immigrant communities and proposing a "wall" sealing the U.S.-Mexico border, estimated to cost nearly $22 billion.

As WWL-TV reports, Ideal Market has closed its nine locations in the New Orleans area and Baton Rouge "in an effort to show the contribution that immigrant workers give to 'Make America Great!'," a message in solidarity with "el dia sin latinos, immigrantes y refugiados" ("a day without Latinos, immigrants and refugees"). In a message on social media, the market announced the closures are "in support of the day without immigrants: as always committed to serve and support the Latino community and public in general." Ideal will pay its employees during its closure.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Orleans previews bike sharing system coming in fall 2017

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu demonstrates a Social Bicycles bike Feb. 15.
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu demonstrates a Social Bicycles bike Feb. 15.

A citywide bike sharing program will bring 700 bikes to 70 racks to the city this fall. But in time for the NBA All-Star weekend and Mardi Gras, people will be able to check out bicycles from several stations in the French Quarter and CBD during a "preview" period from Feb. 15-23.

The fleet of white bikes (with baskets, hand brakes and kickstands) comes from New York-based company Social Bicycles, which allows bikes to be rented out and returned to other hubs around town. This month's "preview" installs 35 bike at nine stations downtown (U.S. Mint, Lafayette Square and Cochon are among the stops) and the Lower Garden District outside the Avenue Pub. City officials signed off on the plan in November.

Riders download an app (search "Social Bicycles"), register their information and select a pay plan. Preview plan rentals are $8 an hour (with a $3 fee) or $10 for an hour of use during all 13 days. "It's really a small city," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "It's a lot easier to get around a on bike than a car ... It's a lot less expensive than driving."

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Orleans to update inaccessible bus stops by 2031

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 5:45 PM

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Nearly 94 percent of New Orleans bus stops fail to meet the needs of disabled riders, and the city has until 2031 to update them. On Feb. 10, the city, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and its owner Transdev Services settled a lawsuit filed by three wheelchair users arguing the city's transit stops are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with stops riddled with too-steep slopes, broken landing pads or no landing pads at all.

Plaintiffs Francis Falls, Mitchell Miraglia and Thad Tatum with attorney Andrew Bizer of Bizer & DeReus filed the suit after Bizer sent a public records request to examine the state of the RTA'S ADA compliance. In 2015, Manning Architects released its report, which surveyed the city's 2,218 bus stops. The report found that only 5.7 percent (126) had a compliant transit stop area and pedestrian access route, while the remaining 2,092 stops need to be updated; 336 of those stops had a compliant stop but still required sidewalk or curb ramp construction.

"We sent a second request saying, 'Hey, what are you doing about it?' They didn’t respond," Bizer said. The plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Eleven months later, the parties settled.

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