Saturday, June 9, 2012

ENONAC fundraiser Sunday

Posted By on Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 8:31 PM

The Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission (ENONAC) is hosting a Spring Fling Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at Southern Oaks Plantation (7816 Hayne Blvd.;

Only 100 reservations are available to the luncheon, which will raise funds for planning development and leadership training. The ENONAC endeavors to provide community leadership to ensure the area’s continued recovery and development.

Admission is $200 for two invitations. For more information, email ENONAC President Sylvia Scineaux-Richard: or call her office at 504 218 5949.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hospitality Zone Bill Appears Dead

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Sources say the proposed "Hospitality Zone" bill appears dead for this year’s legislative session. That news comes after a Senate committee amended the proposed measure at the request of state Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson, D-New Orleans. Hospitality industry leaders reportedly cannot accept Peterson’s amendments, and they are said to be ready to pull the plug on the bill.

The amendments apparently caught the hospitality industry by surprise. Hotel and restaurant interests were the initial backers of the bill, but they ran into howls of protest from neighborhood residents in the French Quarter and Marigny. Residents of Marigny asked to be taken out of the “zone,” a special taxing district that would raise some $15 million a year, most of it in hotel taxes on tourists. The money was supposed to fund ongoing marketing efforts and be combined with $40 million up front in infrastructure improvements. The $40 million was to come from the Convention Center’s fund balance ($30 million) and from the city’s share of Community Development Block Grant funds ($10 million).

Ultimately, the disparate groups affected by the proposal — along with City Council members, legislators, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the hospitality industry — failed to reach a consensus on how the tax revenues should be divided. Peterson’s amendment to the original bill took a significant portion of the marketing funds away from the private Convention and Visitors Bureau and the public Tourism Marketing Board and redirected it to other groups. That apparently caused the hospitality folks to back out, leaving the proposal, by state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, without its principal supporters.

It remains to be seen if the bill’s failure will lead to the Convention Center pulling back on its commitment to spend $30 million on infrastructure improvements.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

‘Reforms’ in need of reform

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 1:50 PM

After four years of touting ethics “reforms” that were largely window dressing, Gov. Bobby Jindal finally acknowledges that his “gold standard” needs some polishing. Jindal is backing a handful of bills in the current legislative session to tweak the 2008 changes that he rammed through a special session with little opposition and even less thoughtful analysis.

Most of Jindal’s bills are good ideas, but some of them, typically, don’t go far enough. State Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, is handling Jindal’s proposals via House Bills 942, 950 and 955.

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR), which has been a leading advocate of reform for decades, recently published a 36-page analysis of the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws. PAR makes more than a dozen recommendations that Jindal and lawmakers should heed. It’s not light reading, but the study’s focus goes to the heart of governmental integrity. PAR’s suggestions include:

• Clearly define the authority of the state Board of Ethics and the Ethics Adjudicatory Board. This problem was created by Jindal’s 2008 “reforms.”

The governor effectively gutted the ethics board in ’08 by shifting its “adjudicatory” authority to administrative law judges (ALJs) who answer to a Jindal appointee. Before those changes, the ethics board functioned as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. Now the ALJs are the judges and the ethics board is the prosecutor. That’s fine, but the lines of authority and jurisdiction are fuzzy — especially in cases involving campaign finance law violations.

Continue reading »

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Answering Sal Perricone in kind

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Local criminal defense attorneys were among the favorite online targets of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, who posted anonymous rants at under the moniker Henry L. Mencken1951 and probably several other noms de plume. Last week, one of them decided to answer Perricone in kind — but not anonymously.

Pat Fanning, a former prosecutor who years ago began a criminal defense practice, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General James Cole and included a copy of one of Perricone’s posts in which he refers to Fanning as “an idiot and an ***hole.” Fanning notes in the letter (a copy of which he gave to Gambit) that he considered suing Perricone for defamation but decided against it because, “while I was able to find a friend or two willing to testify that I am not an idiot, I couldn’t find anyone, not even my wife, to say that I am not an ***hole.”

Fanning goes on to recount that he was once prosecuted by the feds and acquitted — a fact that Perricone noted in one of his anonymous posts. In that post, Perricone says that “if it wasn’t for incompetent prosecutors” Fanning would have been convicted. That’s a tad ironic (and typical of Perricone, it seems) — because it was Cole, the now-deputy attorney general, who prosecuted Fanning in that case. Fanning wryly asserts in his letter to Cole that the reason the government failed to convict him was because it had a bad case, not bad lawyers.

On that note, Fanning closed with a tongue-in-cheek (or not) request of Cole: “I ask that Mr. Perricone be allowed to continue in his employment at the Department of Justice. In fact, I ask that, if at all possible, he be assigned to prosecute all of my clients. This episode tells us that he is not very bright and he has now managed to alienate every judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana. I would be happy to close out my career trying all of my remaining cases against him.”

Unlike Perricone, Fanning signed his real name to the letter.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Science vs. politics, Round 2

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 10:49 AM

The Louisiana Legislature convenes next week, and that means another showdown between science and politics. So far, politics is winning.

But that doesn’t deter Zach Kopplin, the college freshman who, as a high school student last year, took on Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and others promoting the teaching of creationism in Louisiana public schools.

Kopplin is once again leading the charge to repeal the grossly misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). The act was passed in 2008 and signed into law by Jindal, who majored in biology at Brown University and once dreamed of becoming a doctor. (Jindal’s genetics professor urged him to veto the law in 2008, arguing that it would harm Louisiana students who, like Jindal at one time, aspire to become scientists and doctors. Jindal, who is the darling of right-wing religious fundamentalists in the GOP, happily signed the bill into law and continues to defend it as a tool of “critical thinking.”)

LFF is a right-wing non-profit with stated religious goals, but it functions chiefly as a lobbying firm for fundamentalist causes. Most state lawmakers kowtow to LFF rather than risk being labeled “anti-family” or “anti-God.”

Kopplin, the son of New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin, now has 75 Nobel laureates supporting the move to repeal the LSEA. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, is once again authoring a measure (Senate Bill 374) to make that happen. Peterson filed a similar bill last year but it died in committee. The bill will likely be heard once again by the Senate Education Committee, but after last year’s statewide elections the committee has a new chair and several new members.

Continue reading »

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Young and Quinn to tie the knot

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 8:32 AM


Jefferson Parish President John Young announced this morning (Friday, Feb. 24) that he and former state Sen. Julie Quinn, R-Metairie, are officially engaged. The two have been an item, politically and personally, for several years now.

Friends of the pair know that they separated during the recent holiday season around Jan. 1, but obviously they are now back together — more than ever.

Young emailed an announcement at 7:40 a.m. Friday, saying, “Today I have exciting news and I wanted you to be the first to know! It is with great joy that I am honored to announce my engagement to Julie Quinn. Together, we are ready to join our families as one and begin this new season of life. Julie and I appreciate your continued support.”

The email goes on to quote Proverbs 18:22 — “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

No wedding date was mentioned in the announcement.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Committee votes to keep Council utility advisors

Posted By on Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

The selection process for hiring utility advisors to the New Orleans City Council is set to conclude at the next council meeting, when council members will consider the unanimous recommendation of its Utilities Committee to keep the current advisory team in place.

Washington-based attorney Clint Vince of SNR Denton has led the council’s utility advisors for 28 years and racked up an impressive record of wins against Entergy New Orleans (ENO) and its parent company on a variety of fronts. All the same, the council voted in December to extend SNR Denton’s contract on a month-to-month basis while the Council Utilities Committee considered the qualifications of three other law firms seeking the council’s advisory contract.

Last week, after two months of intense lobbying and competition among the interested firms, the committee unanimously recommended Vince’s firm for a one-year contract with four annual renewal options.

While the stage appears set for the status quo to continue, one thing will change: SNR Denton, a worldwide firm with more than 60 offices around the globe, will open a New Orleans office at 650 Poydras St. by March 1. Vince tells GAMBIT the office will be much more than a storefront. “It is my hope that SNR Denton will provide a new and robust source of commerce for the city,” said Vince, who leads his firm’s energy, transport, and infrastructure team. “Our commitment in New Orleans will be a catalyst for additional enterprise with SNR Denton’s other locations throughout the world for the benefit of this great American city. New Orleans is a natural fit with our growing US and international energy practice.”

Among the attorneys to be hired or affiliated with Vince’s firm are Jay Beatmann Jr., who has represented private and public clients in utility matters before the council and the Louisiana Public Service Commission; Royce Duplessis, a New Orleans native who has worked with the firm in other cities and who previously worked for former District C Councilman James Carter; and Basile Uddo, a veteran local attorney and law prpofessor who has served as an advisor to the council’s Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee since 2000 and represented the council in ENO’s post-Katrina bankruptcy proceedings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GOP-backed candidate uses fake Jindal pic against his opponent

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 11:13 PM

A candidate for the Louisiana Senate who is supported by some leading Republicans in the district has faked a photo of Gov. Bobby Jindal shaking hands with his opponent — in an attempt to discredit her among her mostly black constituents. Former state Sen. Greg Tarver of Shreveport, who has substantial GOP support in northwest Louisiana, is in a heated runoff against incumbent Sen. Lydia Jackson, also of Shreveport. Both are Democrats.

Tarver, who stood trial with former Gov. Edwin Edwards in the racketeering case that sent EWE to jail for 10 years (Tarver was acquitted), took responsibility for the faked photo, which originally showed Jackson shaking hands with fellow state Sen. Norby Chabert of Houma. Tarver admitted that someone in his campaign computer-pasted Jindal’s head on top of Chabert’s to make it appear that Jackson, who is a frequent critic of Jindal, was somehow on good terms with the Republican governor.

The fake photo is the latest dust-up in what has become a very bitter runoff between the two candidates in northwest Louisiana’s largest black-majority district. Both Tarver and Jackson are African American, and the contest has divided the district’s black community.

For a look at the photo, see the KTBS-TV story online.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apartments in The ARK, and an FMIA election update

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 1:55 PM

In May, Julian Mutter announced his property at 511 Marigny St. (known as The ARK) would eventually be renovated into an apartment building with retail space on its bottom floor (currently, artists rent the top floor for studio space). Now the move is underway. Several artists at the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association’s (FMIA) monthly meeting Sept. 19 announced they received notices to vacate the studio by Nov. 11.

Plans for the $15 million project include 48 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and 4,000 square feet of commercial space at the corner of Decatur and Marigny streets, with off-street parking for all units. “We’re looking to break ground on it by the end of the year,” Mutter — whose family also owns Doerr Furniture — told Gambit. “We anticipate approximately between 11 months and 13 months of construction time. Our goal is to have the building in service by December 2012.”

In April, Mutter requested a zoning change for the property, from commercial use to residential and commercial mixed-uses. (Mutter said the city’s approval of the zoning and ordinance changes arrived last week.) As for the artists in the building, “they’ve been displaced,” Mutter said.

The New Orleans Community Bike Project (Plan B), which operates inside The ARK’s first floor, will also have to move. “I want to keep them in my sphere,” said Mutter, an avid bicyclist and board member of the Metro Bike Coalition. “I’m looking to work with them to find them another location, probably on St. Claude Avenue,” though he said he doesn’t rule out bringing Plan B back into the building. “But they can’t really be displaced for an entire year,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to be in the commercial space. I do think the corner itself will be something like a café-bookstore, but something certainly (like) a neighborhood business. It might be a restaurant. I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far.”

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

St. Charles DA Harry Morel to resign May 31; Sen. Joel Chaisson likely to run for his job

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Veteran St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel Jr. has submitted his resignation papers effective next May 31, and the leading candidate to succeed him is state Senate President Joel Chaisson of Destrehan. The two men are political allies.

Chaisson, a Democrat who is term limited in the Louisiana Senate, had been considering a run for statewide office this October — possibly lieutenant governor or secretary of state. Morel's resignation changes all that — and it could have profound impact on other statewide races as well.

Chaisson, 50, has long let it be known that he wanted to succeed Morel if the incumbent DA ever stepped down, and today's announcement probably cements Chaisson's immediate political plans.

Morel has been the DA in St. Charles Parish (the 29th Judicial District) for more than three decades. His initial election came after a bruising campaign, but since then he has had no opposition through five election cycles. Morel said in a press release that he is resigning in order to help his daughter Michele run for district judge.

"I intend to actively campaign for my daughter in her judicial race, and I do not want my continuing service as district attorney, should she be elected judge, to become an issue in her campaign," Morel's statement said.

The election to succeed Morel will be on March 24, with a runoff (if needed) on April 21. The new DA will take office June 1.

With Chaisson apparently out of the statewide picture, Democrats' prospects are looking even more grim for the Oct. 22 primary. So far, no major Democrat has surfaced against Gov. Bobby Jindal or Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. In the race for secretary of state, attorney Caroline Fayard is keeping her intentions to herself until next week. Fayard ran a spirited race against Dardenne for lieutenant governor last November, losing to him in the runoff. If she does not run for secretary of state, there may be no well-financed Democrats on the ballot for statewide office in Louisiana this year.

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