Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Media Day: Ray Lewis, gay marriage, root beer glazes and Edgar Allan Poe

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Joe Flacco summons the masses.
  • Joe Flacco summons the masses.

The Super Bowl Committee estimates more than 5,000 reporters arrived in New Orleans to cover Super Bowl XLVII. Today, buses unloaded them all, seemingly, into the Superdome for Media Day. Fans filled the lower bowl sideline to watch the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens host Q&A sessions with reporters, and reporters from all over the world get one-on-one with the players — attendees could tune in to free personal ear-clip radios to tune into each network or interview stage. Media Day opened to the public for the first time last year in Indianapolis.

Players sat back for an hour to wax philosophic on football, reflect on the season, answer boring questions or repeat answers to repeated questions, and get a little loose in a pre-game stress-free interview setting — or walk around among reporters and goof around on- and off-camera with the media.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis drew the wildebeest reporters to his crocodile trap of seemingly endless Ray Lewisms — "I have dreams. The outside world don't see those dreams. ... People ask why I'm so emotional" — while center Matt Birk confirmed his much-publicized stand against gay marriage: "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman," and attributed his views to his Catholic background.

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The evolution of the Super Bowl Clean Zone

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Yesterday's settlement on the Super Bowl Clean Zone may have left some wondering how, exactly, New Orleans city government could have drafted an ordinance with such obvious constitutional issues: sanctioned and permitted signs only, 60 percent NFL branding or "feel" in order to obtain a permit.

The answer is that neither the Landrieu Administration nor City Council invented any of this. The Clean Zone, as defined under the original, pre-consent judgment ordinance, has been around at least since last year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement's Super Bowl XLVI Information Packet, published in October, 2010, shows that city's Clean Zone ordinance was virtually identical to the New Orleans law, including the vague/bizarre 60 percent NFL branding requirement.

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Pro tip: Don't wire $5,900 to someone on the Internet who promises you Super Bowl tickets

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM

From KCBS-TV in San Francisco:

HAYWARD (CBS SF) — An East Bay couple is out nearly $6,000 after falling victim to a scammer offering fake tickets to the Super Bowl.

The Osgood family found four seats for sale on Craigslist through an individual claiming to be a Baltimore Ravens season ticketholder. The cost seemed fair — $5,900, about double the original price.

After talking the deal out through text and email messages, the couple wired the funds cross country. When the package arrived from the seller, all it contained was a printed note that said "Enjoy the game!!!! Go Ravens!!! LOL.”

The San Jose Mercury News had more:

Osgood, a season-ticket holder at Candlestick Park for four years, and her boyfriend have bought seats in the new Santa Clara stadium and were planning to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans with two other family members in their RV. They still plan on going — even if it means watching the game at a bar on Bourbon Street.

(Possible San Francisco Chronicle headline, Mon. Feb. 4: "LOCAL COUPLE LOSES $500 IN BIG EASY STREET BET OVER ORIGIN OF SHOES.")

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Louisiana scores a C+ for government website transparency

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Government transparency watchdog organization Sunshine Review has released its first ever assessment of "proactive disclosure" on state, county, city and school district websites. Based on the group's 10-point transparency checklist — including current and archived budget information, contracts, lobbying activity and contact info for elected representatives — the state of Louisiana scores an overall C-plus, 33 out of 50 states for website transparency, just behind Montana. The top-ranked state was California. Nebraska scored the lowest.

Important to keep in mind: This study only scores government websites, which might not represent be Louisiana's most significant transparency problem. Also see this. And this. And this. There are more.

Of the three subcategories, Louisiana's state website scored the best, with a B-minus. Websites for the state's five largest parishes scored a C-plus, as did the five largest cities. The five largest school districts' websites scored lowest, with a D-plus.

Note: Sunshine Review's report does not say whether it counted Orleans Parish as a single district, as the state does in op-eds, or whether it only examined the Recovery School District, the larger of the two. If the former, it does not say if the website in question is the RSD website, which is hopefully a work in progress, the serviceable Orleans Parish School Board website or the ever-changing state Department of Education website.

Read the report: 2013_Transparency_Report_Card_1_.pdf

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Carville, Matalin out at CNN

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Uptown's most popular power-pundit couple, James Carville and Mary Matalin, are out at CNN, the website FishbowlDC reported this morning. It's one of several changes made by CNN's new president, Jeff Zucker, since he took over the cable network a few weeks ago.

Carville told Politico:

The decision was CNN's, Carville said: "I was told that they wanted the contributors to be more available — essentially, closer to Washington," he said. "I'm not always available, I don't live there."

Carville and Matalin, his wife, live in New Orleans, La. Matalin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Carville said both respected the network's decision and enjoyed their time as contributors there.

"I'm completely cool with it," he said.

Carville and Matalin, who worked for CNN for more than a decade, moved to New Orleans several years ago and have been very involved in the city's social and philanthropic life since then, most recently as co-chairs of the Super Bowl XLVII Host Committee. Carville also told Politico: "I've got enough acts, I'm not out soliciting other TV gigs," he said. "At some level it makes sense for CNN to move in another direction, and it makes sense for me."

And you can read that one of two ways...

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Monday, January 28, 2013

NFL Experience opens Wednesday

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 5:52 PM


Inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, construction crews rushed to wrap the 850,000 square feet space that is the NFL Experience, the Super Bowl-driven football circus/playground tailored to its host city and football fans who likely didn't score a ticket to the big game. Among the dozens of peripheral Super Bowl fan activities, it's the NFL's trademark Super Bowl attraction, and it returns to New Orleans for the first time since 2002 — but it's a much different monster.

Occupying several halls inside the convention center, the NFL Experience for Super Bowl XLVII features "museum quality" exhibits, like team histories, a radio-room exhibit of "great calls in NFL history," locker room simulations, and items on loan from the NFL Pro Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio — the first time the NFL has hosted a Hall of Fame installation at the NFL Experience. It will also host NFC and AFC championship trophies and Super Bowl rings.

Deuce McAllister will deliver the Lombardi Trophy on a red carpet 3 p.m. Wednesday, which is also NFL Play 60 Kids Day. The "NFL Rush Zone for Kids" has a smaller-sized field (with goal posts) and other kid-sized football activities. Athletes also will appear to sign autographs — check here for the autograph schedule — and there are auctions and a trade and collectible show.

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NFL players and coaches record public service announcement for Team Gleason

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Drew Brees, Lance Moore, Thomas Morstead, Jon Vilma and other New Orleans Saints players are among those in this new public service announcement for Team Gleason and the fight against ALS.

It's a great spot, and one entirely appropriate for Super Bowl week. Even for those Saints fans who have been closely following Steve Gleason's no-white-flags fight against the disease, the last few seconds of this video are likely a heartbreaker.

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Photos: Loyola Streetcar grand opening ceremony and inaugural ride

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 2:37 PM


The new Loyola Avenue-Union Passenger Terminal Streetcar Line officially opened today, with a grand opening ceremony followed by an inaugural ride for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other dignitaries in attendance.

Landrieu hailed the new line — 0.8-miles long, or 1.6 miles of track through the Central Business District — as a major economic win for the city.

"This streetcar line is not just a red box on a rail going to nowhere," he said, calling it a "pathway to prosperity."

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sec. Ray LaHood boarding the streetcar
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sec. Ray LaHood boarding the streetcar

The streetcar line was 85 percent financed by a $45 million TIGER grant issued in 2010. (The line, originally scheduled to open last year, ended up costing more than $52 million.) The grant was part of President Obama's American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, also known as the economic stimulus bill.

In spite of ongoing debate about the effectiveness of the stimulus, LaHood said, it "worked when it comes to transportation."

The Loyola line, he said, "will create hundreds of jobs and will create the kind of economic opportunity and activity that is long overdue in New Orleans."

(After the jump, a short video of the inaugural ride, led by the St. Augustine High School marching band)

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ACLU reaches agreement with city on Clean Zone lawsuit

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Under a proposed agreement filed today, the city of New Orleans will not be enforcing limits or bans on unsanctioned content appearing on non-commercial signs and banners within the Super Bowl "Clean Zone."

The agreement comes after the ACLU filed suit last week, challenging the ban as a violation of the First Amendment. Federal Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on sign enforcement except in the area directly around the Superdome.

Today's proposed agreement will dissolve the TRO — restoring the old boundaries of the Clean Zone. In return, the signage ban "shall apply to commercial activity only, and shall in no way be applied or enforced to encumber or burden noncommercial expressive activity," according to court records. And temporary signage will not be required to "consist of at least 60% Super Bowl/NFL branding, look and feel, and no more than 40% third party commercial identification," as the original ordinance demanded.

“What this does is essentially eliminate the First Amendment violations that were in this overbroad ordinance that the city adopted," said Marjorie Esman, ACLU of Louisiana's executive director.

(Side note: Meanwhile, one sanctioned sign that doesn't violate the original or rewritten law is so far getting a mixed reception from residents.)

In addition, the the ban on commercial advertising will only apply to "off-site" signs, that is, ads for products or services not affixed to their business' premises, as well as mobile ads. This part of the agreement results from the addition of real estate agent Andrew Grafe of French Quarter Realty. Grafe was concerned that the "For Sale" signs on his properties would be deemed violations of the ordinance.

(More after the jump)

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Free tickets to Tim McGraw at House of Blues Friday

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Tim McGraw, son of Louisiana.
  • Tim McGraw, son of Louisiana.
Among the million or so concerts taking place during this Super Bowl week: Tim McGraw will play a morning show at House of Blues live on Good Morning America on Friday.

Tickets are free and will be handed out on a first-come first-serve basis at HOB Friday morning beginning at 5 a.m., so if you're interested, plan your week accordingly. It's billed as "an intimate performance." (How intimate, and does Faith Hill know?)

Full info under the jump ...

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