"Today I pray for the Brown family and everyone in Ferguson. In the United States we remain divided. Divided by race. Divided by poverty. We live a block away from one another, but are often a world apart.The statement follows dozens of rallies across the U.S. planned in the wake of the decision. Tonight, demonstrators plan to meet at 6 p.m. at Lafayette Square. This Sunday, Nov. 30, the New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 hosts a "solidarity gathering addressing the impact of state sanctioned police violence in the black community from Ferguson to New Orleans." The gathering begins at noon at Lee Circle. Attendees are asked to wear black and/or red.
It is time for each of us, every American, to accept the fact that we must begin to acknowledge and discuss the most difficult issues we face. And we must agree to face them together.
American citizens have the right to protest, but I encourage peaceful protests in these difficult times."
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.
“You are a nasty, little, cowardly spud. You are scum. Do you understand?”
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5 p.m. Thursday, June 6 update: The New Orleans Inspector General's office issued a report saying the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office (OPSO) is "adequately funded" and recommends that the city "not appropriate funds for the jail unless OPSO provides it with a detailed, functional budget that identifies the specific jail expenditures the revenues support." Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said in a statement, "The root cause is a dysfunctional structure that gives OPSO a blank check that the City must sign, and ensures that neither the City nor OPSO can be held wholly accountable for conditions in the Jail. The Jail will remain as it is until that structure is changed.”
U.S. District Judge Lance Africk approved a federal consent decree this afternoon between the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to address the controversial conditions at Orleans Parish Prison.
The consent decree, to be assessed and overseen by an independent monitor, is welcomed by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, though he has repeatedly stressed that his office and the jail are run constitutionally. Gusman instead has claimed that the jail's conditions are due to a lack of funding and leadership from Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city. Landrieu's office has objected to the consent decree, which his office argues will cost the city $110 million over five years.
The federal consent decree to monitor the New Orleans Police Department, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, is postponed, again. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay this afternoon. A selection committee meeting previously scheduled for tomorrow to select a monitoring firm has been canceled.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan signed the decree in January. Extensions on the monitor selection process and pushback from the city already have delayed the decree. Today's appeals court ruling now "puts it in limbo."
When was the last time you saw Marlin Gusman and Ray Nagin on the same courthouse steps … or on the same beach in Jamaica? Uh-huh. See where I’m going with this?
It never occurred to me until the sheriff’s bizarre testimony in federal court on Thursday (April 4), and his rant afterward, that he and our former mayor may have been separated at birth. They certainly seem to think alike, if you can call their recent ramblings the product of rational thought.
No need to rehash Nagin’s dementia. It’s a given. But I always figured Gusman was compos mentis. Aloof and prickly at times, yes, but no dummy — and certainly not out of touch with reality.
He sure had me fooled.
What is it about some politicians that makes them retreat into isolation under fire, not just into a political bunker, but also into some alternate version of reality? Richard Nixon in the final days of Watergate comes to mind, as does Nagin after Hurricane Katrina.
Gusman’s performance on the witness stand, after some devastating jailhouse videos were played in federal court two days earlier, put him right up there in that pantheon of paranoia with Tricky Dick and C. Ray.
After a six-hour round of testimony in federal court over the Orleans Parish Parish consent decree, Sheriff Marlin Gusman held a brief press conference outside OPP's intake center in the shadow (and noise) of new facility construction. As he did last week following Mayor Mitch Landrieu's emergency City Council meeting on the OPP consent decree, Gusman slammed the mayor and defended the internal reforms at the sheriff's office — and addressed the content of a damning video of inmates at the now-closed House of Detention, which closed last year.
"That video from 2009 revealed in graphic detail the devastating effect of rumbling, outdated jail buildings that are lacking modern security measure," Gusman said. "The four-year-old images you saw reflect the old way of warehousing inmates. ... The actions taken in that video are unacceptable and despicable."
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and U.S. Attorney Dana Boente mutually filed a request today to delay a criminal trial against Nagin until October. Nagin, who pleaded not guilty to 21 felony counts in February, was originally set to begin trial at the end of April. However, as today's motion says, it's a large and complex case.
From the joint motion:
"The nature of the present prosecution is complex and involves an extensive amount of electronic and documentary discovery. The current posture of the case makes it unreasonable, taking into account the exercise of due diligence, to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings and trial prior to April 29, 2013."
Read the motion to continue trial: Nagin_Delay.pdf
This week saw several bombshells in the local political arena: a Baton Rouge judge nullified the results of last November’s bridge toll referendum, and the feds dropped their years-long investigation into the River Birch landfill and its co-owners, Fred Heebe Jr. and Jim Ward. In a sense, both stories were about tolls.
Let’s take the easy part first.
No matter how you voted last November, there’s no denying the logic of Judge William Morvant’s decision to void the toll referendum’s outcome. The facts are undisputed — indeed, the state didn’t even put on a case in support of the results — and the law is clear.
At least 1,000 voters in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes were given “provisional” ballots that allowed them to vote only in the presidential election. Dozens of local items were on the ballot that day, including the tolls, but provisional voters could not vote in those contests. Many provisional voters were legally registered, but for some reason their names were not on the Election Day rolls. Registrars need to fix that.
Morvant correctly cited state law, which says if it’s impossible to determine the result of an election because qualified voters were denied the right to vote, a judge may nullify that election. Morvant ordered a new referendum on May 4, which happens to be the second weekend of Jazz Fest.
Suffice it to say the turnout on May 4 will be radically different than that of last Nov. 6, and that means toll supporters have an uphill fight. In politics, the easiest thing to do is kill a tax — and many see the bridge toll as a tax. Last November, toll supporters could count on the presidential election to push turnout, but on May 4 they’ll have to drag folks to the polls. They’ll raise fears of bad maintenance, less grass cutting, lights going out on the bridge and the like, but toll opponents have more motivation to turn out: they’re pissed off and they smell blood.
Which brings us to our next topic: the end of the federal River Birch investigation. The immediate reaction in many quarters was that the lengthy probe was a waste of time because it came to naught. That’s not entirely true. While the feds didn’t nab Heebe, the landfill owner bagged a passel of errant federal prosecutors by exposing Sal Perricone and Jan Mann for unprofessional, unethical and possibly illegal actions in connection with their acerbic — and petulant — online commentaries.
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