Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Minimum wage bill killed in state Senate Finance Committee

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 4:36 PM


The state Senate Finance Committee, buttressed by warnings that any mandated increase in the state minimum wage could cost jobs, today killed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $8 in 2018, and to $8.50 in 2019. The vote was 7-3.

Washington, D.C. and 28 other states have a minimum wager higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. Only three have a lower employment rate than Louisiana, according to Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller. States must at least match the federal minimum.
Both the debate and the voting on Senate Bill 153 by state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, fell along party lines. Most Republicans argued businesses will make up for the increased expense by eliminating low-wage jobs or raising the cost of products.

“Instead of trying to raise the wage that could drive jobs away, we should be focusing on our economy,” state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said. “If you raise the minimum wage, you might be jeopardizing those very jobs that earn that $7.25.”

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Editorial: Anybody here seen our old friend John (Kennedy)?

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 2:20 PM

  • Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

Shortly after taking office in January, U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy told The New York Times, “There’s this feeling among many in America that it’s harder than ever to get ahead in our country, that it’s easier than ever to do nothing. There’s a feeling that the people in Washington don’t listen and they don’t care. ... And they want something done about it. They’re entitled to be listened to and heard.”

We agree, which is why we’re puzzled that it’s so difficult for constituents to catch Kennedy’s ear these days. Consider this:
During Senate recesses in February and April, Kennedy held no town hall meetings in Louisiana — unlike Sen. Bill Cassidy, who met constituents (and braved some fury) in Metairie in February. Unhappy with Kennedy’s seeming unwillingness to meet the public, constituents held a protest on the steps of the Hale Boggs Federal Building in March (with Kennedy’s face on a “missing” milk carton) and another in April at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, where voters asked questions of an effigy of the senator. A similar gathering was held in Baton Rouge on the LSU campus that month.

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State Senate rejects expanding domestic abuse protections to same-sex couples

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 1:41 PM


The state’s domestic abuse laws will continue to exclude same-sex couples after a bill to extend the law’s protections failed in a 17-14 Senate vote. But the measure may not be dead.

House Bill 27 by State Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, proposed striking “of the opposite sex” from the law’s definition of a household member to extend domestic abuse protections — such as sentencing enhancements for abusers and greater protections for victims — to same-sex couples. Currently the law only applies to married couples, whether same-sex or heterosexual, and heterosexual couples who are cohabiting.

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New Orleans Wine & Food Experience highlights, Grand Tasting moves to riverfront

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 1:40 PM

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience takes place May 25-28. - COURTESY NOWFE
  • The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience takes place May 25-28.

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is this weekend (May 25-28), and it features more than 1,000 wines from more than 100 wineries and food from more than 75 New Orleans’ chefs.

Kicking off the festival’s 25th year on Thursday (May 25) are a host of wine dinners at restaurants throughout the city. This year, 25 restaurants, work with winemakers and wine reps to serve prix-fix dinners accompanied by wine pairings.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Landrieu: New Orleans is "fully compliant" under Jeff Sessions' "sanctuary" definition

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 5:56 PM

New Orleanians marched against President Donald Trump's immigration orders in January. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • New Orleanians marched against President Donald Trump's immigration orders in January.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said New Orleans "is not and has never been a sanctuary city" following a memo from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that clarifies President Donald Trump's executive order to crack down on so-called "sanctuary" policies prohibiting local cops from working with federal immigration authorities. Sessions' definition of "sanctuary" policies appears to keep New Orleans out of federal scrutiny, for now.

"It appears that the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security heard the call from mayors and police chiefs — that our local police should be focused on fighting violent crime and building trust with the communities they serve,” Landrieu said in a statement.

Landrieu has repeatedly ensured New Orleans' compliance with the feds in regards to people living in the country illegally — the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), under a federal consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, does not ask about an individual's immigration status, but the department is not explicitly prohibited from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Landrieu sent a letter to Sessions last month detailing NOPD's policies and urging the feds to "stay focused on the real problem and stop scapegoating the immigrant communities and cities."

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Preview of works by Prospect.4 artists

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 3:04 PM

  • Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles
  • White Rain, 2017, by Genevieve Gaignard.

Prospect.4 Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker announced the names of the 73 artists selected for the exhibition opening Nov. 18 and running through Feb. 25, 2018. There's work by artists from around the globe, as well as some collages by Louis Armstrong. Yoko Ono also has work in the show. Works and installations will be on view at 17 museums, galleries, venues and public spaces around new Orleans.

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Prospect.4 artists announced, Trevor Schoonmaker previews expo

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 2:12 PM

Artistic director Trevor Schoonmaker previews Prospect.4 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. - PHOTO BY J CALDWELL
  • Artistic director Trevor Schoonmaker previews Prospect.4 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

Prospect.4, the fourth installment of the international contemporary art expo founded by Dan Cameron, opens Nov. 18 and runs through Feb. 25, 2018. Trevor Schoonmaker, the head curator at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art is the artistic director of Prospect.4. He released the names of 73 artists selected for the triennial and previewed the expo in remarks at the Ogden Museum for Southern Art Tuesday.

Schoonmaker titled the expo "The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp," a phrase he says was inspired by jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp, who said jazz is the lotus in spite of the swamp. "The title is the metaphor of the lotus flower," Schoonmaker says. "That is a beautiful flower that rises through the swamp. It's about the ability to rise above one's circumstances. ... Art brings the invisible to light."

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Bill on domestic violence protections for 'dating partners' moves to full state Senate

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 1:40 PM

State Rep. Helena Moreno.
  • State Rep. Helena Moreno.

A Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee favorably dispatched a bill to the full Senate for final debate Tuesday that would provide dating partners the same protection afforded spouses.

Dating partners involved in domestic abuse cases only can be charged with simple battery under current law. Domestic abuse battery carries more severe penalties. Louisiana is one of nine states where domestic abuse law does not recognize dating partners and does not allow the same protection as spouses.
House Bill 223, by State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, creates a new section of law for dating partners, which is the same as the domestic spousal abuse law, except it does not ban the guilty dating partner from owning a firearm for 10 years.

The presence of a firearm in an abusive relationship increases the chances of a homicide by about 500 percent, according to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Moreno’s bill would trigger a federal ban on firearm possession for more intense acts of violence, such as burning or strangling the victim, or for repeat offenders.

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Opal Basil, Briquette to open in Warehouse District this summer

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 10:44 AM

The team behind Mandeville's Opal Basil is opening two restaurants in the Warehouse District this summer. - COURTESY LINDSEY JO VASQUEZ
  • The team behind Mandeville's Opal Basil is opening two restaurants in the Warehouse District this summer.

Mandeville’s Opal Basil closed last month, but its owners plan to open two restaurants in the Warehouse District this summer.

The first to open, Briquette (701 S. Peters St.), is larger and will highlight contemporary coastal cuisine, says Lindsey Jo Vasquez, who ran Opal Basil with her husband and chef Robert Vasquez.

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Brewsday Tuesday: Parleaux Beer Lab's grand opening and new beers

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 9:00 AM

NOLA Brewing's new IPA, Syncopation - NORA MCGUNNIGLE
  • Nora McGunnigle
  • NOLA Brewing's new IPA, Syncopation

Parleaux Beer Lab (634 Lesseps St., 504-702-8433) holds its grand opening party 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 3. There will be live music, food trucks and 12 beers on tap, including a few introduced during American Craft Beer Week. The brewery made two special brews just for the occasion: a 100 percent Brettanomyces-fermented stout aged with raspberries and cherries and a summer gose beer brewed with ginger, lime peel, Himalayan pink salt and coriander.

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