1. DISMAL RESULTS FOR GLASS RECYCLING
Since glass recycling returned to the French Quarter in September 2015, only about 40 of more than 4,000 eligible properties — less than 1 percent — are using the service, according to New Orleans Sanitation Director Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, who gave a five- month progress report to the City Council's Public Works, Sanitation and Environment Committee Jan. 5.
"If I heard you right, we should be embarrassed and ashamed of ourselves," said Council Vice President Stacy Head. "I can't believe we're not doing a better job."
Glass recycling is every Thursday downtown and is picked up separately from Tuesday's regular recycling. Residents and eligible small businesses need only put their city-provided blue recycling bin (with only glass in it) on the curb. Residents can call 311 to receive a bin.
The city contracted Empire Janitorial Sales & Services for downtown trash pickup in 2014, a nearly $4 million deal charging households $2.27 a month for trash and recycling pickup. When glass recycling was added last year, the monthly sanitation charges bumped up to $3.50. Since New Orleans returned to citywide recycling services, Sylvain-Lear said the city has saved nearly $1 million in garbage disposal fees.
2. Sean Payton: I'm staying with the Saints
"This is where I plan on coaching, and I don't envision myself ever coaching for any other club." — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton last week, putting to rest rumors that he may be heading elsewhere after back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Among the clubs that were said to be interested in Payton: the Miami Dolphins, the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys (the last rumor went into overdrive when team owner Jerry Jones' jet was spotted at Lakefront Airport).
Payton said someone told him, "There's something about this city," when he moved here in '06, and he agreed — despite "the potholes" and "the water" [boil alerts], which sometimes resulted in him showering at Saints camp rather than at his house. "It grows on you," Payton said. "It is home."
3. City offers
City and state health officials will educate and assist Louisianans looking to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Open enrollment for ACA (aka Obamacare) ends Jan. 31, and "navigators" will be present at the "Citywide Day of Enrollment for Health" to help people find the best private health care plan for their needs. Events will be held at 13 locations around the city; to find the one nearest to you, visit www.nola.gov/marketplace.
4. Public safety millage on April ballot
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison, New Orleans Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell and members of the New Orleans City Council announced plans last week to put a public safety tax millage on the April 9 municipal ballot.
Five mills would be dedicated to police services, while 2.5 mills would go to fire protection and pensions, generating more than $25 million annually. The owner of a $150,000 home would pay an additional $113 per year to the city, while the owner of a $500,000 home would pay $375 more annually.
5. Louisiana high in
Louisiana has the second highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S., according to a report from the Violence Policy Center (VPC), which analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using 2014 information from the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the VPC found Louisiana was second only to Alaska, which had a rate of 19.68 gun deaths per 100,000 residents among a much smaller population.
In 2015, 164 people were killed in New Orleans and NOPD reported more than 250 nonfatal shootings for the year. The city's first murder victim of 2016 was 22-year-old Myeisha McDaniels, who was killed Jan. 2.
6. Gee to lead La. Dept. of Health and Hospitals
As part of his cabinet appointments, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards named Dr. Rebekah Gee to head the state's Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). Gee, an obstetrician/gynecologist, will head up Edwards' expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana, which he has said will begin with an executive order within 24 hours of his inauguration.
Gee, who works at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, served on Mayor Mitch Landrieu's 2010 transition team, worked on President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign committee and was appointed in 2014 by Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Bayou Health Quality Committee, the board that oversees DHH.
7. More stand-up
stops in New Orleans
Comedian David Cross (Arrested Development, Mr. Show, W/ Bob & David) recently announced his return to stand-up comedy with a four-month tour, which will stop in New Orleans. Cross performs at the Orpheum Theater April 18.
Other headlining comics performed at big local venues this spring: Marlon Wayans (Jan. 22, Orpheum Theater): Patton Oswalt (Jan. 23, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts); Kyle Kinane (Feb. 17, Howlin' Wolf) and Jim Norton (April 21, Joy Theater).
8. Council: Strip club dancers must be 21
New Orleans strip club dancers must be 21 years or older, according to an ordinance unanimously passed by the New Orleans City Council Jan. 7. The measure adds teeth to a 25-year-old ordinance that prohibits strip club employees under age 21 from performing naked onstage. Club owners were able to hire people under 21 to perform topless, but the new law prevents that. The measure originally extended the law to all club employees, not just dancers, but owners and employees said it would cause nondancers to lose jobs.
Covenant House Director Jim Kelly, who supported the measure, said Covenant House "wanted to be sure that if you have to be 21 to drink, you have to be 21 to take off your clothes." Some dancers had opposed the measure, noting they were of age to hold other occupations, including in the military.
9. Nagin appeal rejected by appeals court
Former Mayor Ray Nagin will have to serve his full sentence in prison. Last week the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Nagin's appeal, which sought to have his 2014 sentence overturned. In October 2015, Nagin's attorneys argued U.S. District Judge Helen "Ginger" Berrigan provided improper instructions to the jury that convicted him on 20 counts including bribery, tax evasion and money laundering.
In July 2014, Berrigan sen-tenced Nagin to 10 years in federal prison. That September, Nagin began serving his sentence at the Texarkana Federal Correction Institution in Texarkana, Texas.
10. Allen Toussaint Day Jan. 14
The New Orleans City Council last week declared Jan. 14 Allen Toussaint Day, honoring the late songwriter and producer on his birthday.
Toussaint — born Jan. 14, 1938 — died in November after a performance in Spain. He was 77. Hundreds of fans and fellow musicians gathered at the Orpheum Theater to pay their respects to Toussaint, the architect of New Orleans funk and a prolific, humble and stylish visionary in rhythm-and-blues and rock 'n' roll.