1. NEW HOME FOR MID-CITY LIBRARY
The Mid-City branch of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL), which narrowly averted eviction from its home at the American Can building last year, will move to the two-story Automotive Life Insurance Building at 4140 Canal St. this fall, City Librarian Charles M. Brown announced last week.
The modernist building, which features a marble-and-glass facade and terrazzo flooring, was designed by Curtis and Davis Architects (who went on to design the New Orleans Rivergate and the Superdome) and opened in 1963. It was designated a city historic landmark by the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission in 2010.
It will be the third home for the Mid-City library in six years. In 2010, the library moved from a strip mall building on N. Carrollton Avenue to a larger space in the American Can building on Orleans Avenue. That lease expired last year and the library began operating on a month-to-month basis.
2. Quote of the week
"You want to cure the problem? Fund it. ... Don't come down here with some bullshit Republican philosophy from Washington D.C. ... and tell me how to do my business." — Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand to the Louisiana Senate Judiciary A Committee May 25.
Normand and New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison testified against House Bill 1148 from state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, to prevent "sanctuary" cities that house immigrants without state authorization from receiving certain funding. Attorney General Jeff Landry told the same committee on May 17 that "sanctuary" policies are part of an agenda of providing "terrorists safe haven in American cities."
"We enforce all criminal law," Harrison said. "In our policy, which is taken directly from the consent decree, we shall not ask about immigration status. ... If that person is a victim or a witness, we will deal with that situation." The measure died in committee.
3. NOMA, Google team up for art
The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) last week announced a new partnership with Google Cultural Institute that brings richly detailed images of artworks and objects from the museum's collection to the internet.
Among the first NOMA artworks on view are Portrait of Estelle Musson Degas by Edgar Degas (1872), a 1951 quilt by Clementine Hunter and George Dureau's 1970 painting Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Two Nuba Wrestlers. Items of national interest include a circa-1800 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, a 1948 canvas by Jackson Pollock and a 1975 silkscreen portrait of Mick Jagger by Andy Warhol. To view the collection, visit www.google.com/culturalinstitute.
4. Monument removal stalled — again
With a case pending against the city in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has suspended its search for contractors to remove four Confederate monuments. Several groups sued the city after the New Orleans City Council's December decision to remove the controversial monuments. On May 26, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, one of the plaintiffs, issued its annual list of the city's most endangered sites — all four monuments made the list.
5. Atlanta scores Super Bowl 2019
"NFL Picks Atlanta to Host Super Bowl Because New Orleans Makes Too Much Sense" was the headline on Nate Scott's FTW! column in USA Today after the Big Easy narrowly lost hosting the 2019 Super Bowl at an NFL owners' meeting last week in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Score one for traffic, an already overwhelmed airport, and a city that's terrible to walk in," Scott wrote, noting people also can't drink on the street in Atlanta.
"While Atlanta won't be as big of a joke as Santa Clara was this year (who even remembers that the Super Bowl was in Santa Clara this year?) it's still not the right call. Go back to NOLA, NFL. You know it's right."
6. Landry, Edwards at odds over transgender protections
Attorney General Jeff Landry says he doesn't have to comply with Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive order protecting LGBT employees of the state. On May 25, Landry added Louisiana to a lawsuit with 10 other states opposing a federal mandate ensuring LGBT protection on school and college campuses.
On May 24, the state Senate rejected Senate Bill 436 from state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, which would have extended workplace discrimination laws to LGBT people. Carter urged legislators to "silence the critics, silence the bigots, silence the haters" and "silence those that would rather keep us backwards." No legislators spoke against the measure, but it failed by a vote of 8 yeas and 25 nays. In his opinion, filed May 25, Landry says "gender identity" has no constitutional protection.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, zeroes in on transgender-inclusive "bathroom" recommendations from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. Landry elaborated in a May 24 interview with the conservative lobbying group Family Research Council that transgender people suffer from mental illness, adding "the good Lord doesn't build us in that particular way."
7. "Pastor Protection Act" fails in Lege
Picking up where his failed "Marriage and Conscience Act" left off in 2015, state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, failed to convince legislators May 24 to support his "Pastor Protection Act." House Bill 597, Johnson argued, would protect members of a religious organization from having to provide services that violate sincerely held religious beliefs (a protection already afforded in the U.S. Constitution). Johnson couldn't answer members of the Senate Judiciary B Com- mittee, who asked if clergy members in Louisiana ever have been forced to perform services against their will.
New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry said tourism groups, eyeing similar legislation in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision affirming same-sex marriages, "are very concerned" and "passionate about this from the moral side as well as the business side." The committee deferred the bill by a 3-2 vote.
8. Double-belted penalty
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a renewed "Click It or Ticket" seat-belt enforcement program to run beginning Memorial Day weekend and ending June 5. The Louisiana Legislature also had seat belts on its mind last week when it passed House Bill 751 by state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, which doubles the fine for a first unbuckled seat belt offense from $25 to $50. The bill heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards for final approval.
9. Benefit for Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris
New Orleans musicians held two sold-out fundraisers May 26 for New Orleans singer and songwriter Leigh Harris, aka Little Queenie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year that has spread to her brain, liver, lymph nodes and bones.
Funds raised at the concerts at Snug Harbor were added to a GoFundMe account to help defray the cost of Harris' medical treatment. As of last week, the account has raised more than $23,700 of its $50,000 goal.
10. Louisiana first responders protected by hate crime law
Louisiana adopted the country's first "Blue Lives Matter" law May 26 after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill adding first responders as a protected class under the state's hate crime law. Though the state's law already covers "any entity or unit of federal, state, or local government," the measure from state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, goes on to explicitly add law enforcement as a discrimination classification. People convicted of a felony hate crime in Louisiana face up to an additional five years of jail time.