1. CIVIC CANCELS DOWN SHOW AFTER ANSELMO'S 'WHITE POWER' SALUTE
Down, the New Orleans metal supergroup featuring vocalist Phil Anselmo, was set to perform at the Civic Theater on Lundi Gras, Feb. 7. But after Anselmo's "white power" salute at a festival last week, that show has been canceled. Anselmo posted written and video apologies several days after he delivered a Nazi salute and growled "white power" to a crowd at Dimebash — a concert celebrating Anselmo's late Pantera bandmate Dimebag Darrell — though Anselmo initially responded by saying he was joking.
The Civic wrote that the theater "[does] not tolerate intolerant behavior, and there is no room for that in our venue or our city." The theater also made a donation to the Jewish Federation of New Orleans. Refunds for the concert are available.
2. Special session expected to begin Feb. 14
"Legislators are not going to like it and the public is not going to like it." — Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, talking about the expected combination of cuts and possible tax increases the state Legislature will hash out in a special session that starts Feb. 14. Gov. John Bel Edwards called the special session to deal with the immediate $750 million to $850 million budget hole left behind by his predecessor, former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The regular annual session begins March 14. During that session, lawmakers will have the additional headache of plugging a $1.9 billion hole for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
3. Gleason to be released this summer
Amazon Studios has picked up distribution rights to Gleason, J. Clay Tweel's documentary about former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. The studio company plans to release Gleason theatrically and on-demand this summer. The movie premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Gleason has said the project began as a series of video diaries for his son, Rivers.
4. Ten more reasons to curse the orange envelope
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration "compromised" on its plan to increase downtown parking meter fees by extending meter hours by only one hour (from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.) — but the "compromise" included hiking parking ticket fees from $20 to $30. The City Council's Budget Committee OK'd that proposal Feb. 2.
Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin says the rate hike and the parking ticket fees are expected to bring in $1.3 million from the more than 3,000 metered spaces in the French Quarter and Central Business District. Parking tickets are set to be raised from $20 to $30 within the first 30 days of receiving the ticket, $60 after 30 days and $90 thereafter.
5. Short-term rentals: Where should the money go?
The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center wants New Orleans council members to direct money collected from enforcement of short-term rentals to the city's stagnant Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (NHIF). "Short-term rental regulation makes sense for a variety of reasons," the groups wrote in a letter to the council, "but without a better-demonstrated link between short-term rentals and affordability, we cannot reasonably expect to solve challenges for long-term renters solely by focusing on short-term rental regulation."
Last year, council members began discussing a citywide rental registry to hold landlords accountable for substandard housing and to create oversight in a city with few renters' rights. The NHIF also could provide low-cost loans for repairs and to fix blight, among other problems.
6. Affordable housing development opens Feb. 11
The first "permanently affordable housing development" in New Orleans opens Feb. 11 in Mid-City. Four three-bedroom apartments at 2739 Palmyra St. will be available to families in the 60 percent tier of area median income (roughly $35,300 annual income for a family of four).
The Palmyra building is a project of the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI), which was formed in 2008 following the closure of the Mid-City community and performance space Nowe Miasto. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, New Orleans renters today spend an average of 41 percent of their income on rent.
The Palmyra building's open house is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.
7. City responds to heroin problem
The New Orleans Health Department has made the drug naloxone — which can reverse the life-endangering effects of heroin and opiate overdoses — available without a prescription exclusively at the University Medical Center (UMC) Outpatient Pharmacy (2000 Canal St.).
City Medical Director Joseph Kanter issued a standing order allowing over-the-counter purchases of naloxone at UMC after New Orleans EMS began noticing a significant rise in heroin and opiate overdoses, responding to as many as 10 a day in the first weeks of 2016.
The Centers for Disease Control charted a 286 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths from 2002 to 2013. There were 43,982 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2013; more than half those deaths were from prescription drug overdoses.
New Orleans does not have a public facility for inpatient detox care — a list of private providers, programs and caregivers is available at www.nola.gov/health-department.
8. Makin' grocery stores in the Marigny
The old Robert Fresh Market at St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues, which has sat empty for more than a decade since Hurricane Katrina, will have a groundbreaking in May or June, the store announced last week, paving the way for a new supermarket in the Marigny. That corner is the site of the first Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market, which opened there in 1946. Company president Marc L. Robert II said in the announcement that the company has registered the site on the National Historic Register.
9. Anthony Bean Theater moves to Gentilly
The Anthony Bean Community Theater has purchased St. Raymond Catholic Church at 3720 Paris Ave. in Gentilly and will move into the new space in early March. Bean says the new campus will allow the theater to add a dance studio, music rooms and a museum honoring local African-American theater troupes.
The final production at Anthony Bean Community Theater's longtime home at 1333 S. Carrollton Ave. is Jungle Kings, which runs Feb. 12-28. Rain Denise Wilson's play about incarcerated black men debuted in Los Angeles (see preview, p. 5).
10. Edwards joins anti-abortion appeal
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who touted his pro-life bona fides during the recent governor's race, joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to uphold a Texas law requiring certain admitting privileges for abortion clinics. Louisiana has a similar law, and last week a federal trial judge declared a section of that measure unconstitutional. The Texas law was upheld by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments March 2.