In "Bouquets & Brickbats," (News & Views, July 17), Gambit states that the City Council's action to extend school zone hours is "nothing but a naked grab for red-light camera cash." We are writing to correct that misstatement.
At the June 28 City Council meeting, the administration provided a "by request" ordinance for first reading. The ordinance, authored by Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson would increase the hours for school zones. The rationale was that the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Recovery School District (RSD) desired increased hours to reflect when students were actually coming and going from school. The council favored sending the ordinance through a committee process to vet the matter publicly; however, because school starts in a few weeks, the administration advised that the committee process would be problematic, as signs reflecting the new hours needed to be made and installed expeditiously.
Prior to adoption on July 12, the OPSB and RSD leadership contacted the council to confirm that they desired the increase of hours and that several school leaders and parents made the request. Council staff obtained written letters of support from the OPSB and RSD and requested that a representative from each entity attend the council meeting to outline their rationale for this request, address the public and answer any questions.
Because there is such public and media skepticism relating to traffic law enforcement, the council publicly (at the council meeting) demanded that the administration and school systems do widespread media and public announcement outreach to educate the public regarding the school zone changes. In addition, the council publicly and privately urged the administration to provide a grace period for any school zones that had speed camera enforcement relative to the new school zone hours.
Any one of us will gladly discuss this with you further and, of course, any of us (and our staffs) are always available to clarify and explain any action of the council.
Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson
City Council president
City Council vice-president
Susan G. Guidry
Councilwoman District A
Councilwoman District B
Kristin Gisleson Palmer
Councilwoman District C
Councilwoman District D
Councilman District E
Note: This letter was sent before Johnson resigned from council.