Last October, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration touted the fact it had filled 46,000 potholes the previous year. On May 2, Landrieu announced another major streets initiative: repairing every one of the 54,400 streetlights in New Orleans by the end of 2012. The bulk of the funding will come from $8 million in one-time federal recovery funds. The ordinance to implement the grant is being authored by District E City Councilman Jon Johnson.
A press conference announcing the initiative featured a skirmish between Landrieu and WWL-TV's Bill Capo, whose "Action Reports" frequently feature citizen complaints about streetlights. Landrieu, who rarely shies away from mixing it up with reporters, interrupted Capo during a question,saying, "Bill, seriously, just stop for a second. I don't want to ruin your career, but ... you can go anywhere in the city and you'll be able to find a streetlight that's out." Landrieu concluded, sarcastically, "We'll create a special Bill Capo line that everybody can stand in, and if they get in your line, we'll fix their streetlights first. How about that?"
Currently the city spends 120 man-hours a week on streetlights. The new plan calls for six crews working six 13-hour days a week, a nearly fourfold increase.
Residents can report streetlight problems on the city's designated hotline by calling 658-8080. — KEVIN ALLMAN