Saturday, September 16, 2017

Email shows local short-term rental industry sought to raise funds for City Council candidates Ramsey, Maklansky

Posted By and on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Editor's note: This story has been revised to include the information that District A candidate Joe Giarrusso returned a $250 contribution by Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity president Eric Bay on Sept. 2, the day it was made. Maklansky also contacted Gambit to say she did not remember receiving a check from the Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity in early July, and that she was returning the money. She had declined to accept a $1,000 check from the organization in August.

Less than six months into implementation of the city’s short-term rental (STR) ordinance, the leading local proponent of expanded STRs is raising money for some City Council candidates “who have pledged to work with us,” according to an email sent by the pro-STR Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity (ANP). In the email, ANP makes clear that the organization seeks to expand the “footprint of inclusion” for STRs and increase “both day count and occupancy permitted” in the city’s STR ordinance.

An ANP email sent last month titled "Call to Arms and Action-All Members City Wide" asked the group’s members and supporters to help raise campaign money by attending fundraisers for two council candidates in particular — District C incumbent Nadine Ramsey and District A hopeful Aylin Acikalin Maklansky, who until recently served as Ramsey’s legislative director. In addition to hosting fundraisers for Ramsey and Maklansky, ANP and its president have contributed to several other council candidates directly.

"Both are Equally important to our futures," the email said, "as their contending opposing candidates have announced anti-STR sentiment and prioritized restrictions going forward if elected. Please make every effort to contribute online and if unable to attend. Support your future by supporting those who have pledged to work with us."

Asked about the efforts by ANP, Ramsey told Gambit she initially didn’t know about the fundraiser, which is scheduled for Sept. 19 at Schoen Funeral Home on Canal Street in Mid-City, which is not in District C. Ramsey said after she became aware of the email’s language — particularly its suggestion that she was committed to expanding STRs into the French Quarter — she told her campaign to cancel the event. If it is held anyway, Ramsey told Gambit, she said she would not attend.

“We didn’t know they were doing it with the intent to change policy,” Ramsey said.

Maklansky told Gambit that the email came to her campaign’s attention only after she had committed to an event scheduled for Aug. 29 at a home owned by Michelle LeBlanc in the Black Pearl neighborhood, which Maklansky characterized as a “meet and greet” rather than a fundraiser. The property, known as Oulala House, is listed on the short-term rental website VRBO and is advertised at an average price of $680 a night. The email listed the event and address and asked STR supporters to “support your future by supporting those who have pledged to work with us.” Maklansky said the event had no bearing on her support (or lack thereof) for short-term rentals.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

School board votes to limit law enforcement interaction with students

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:48 AM

Mary Moran with Nuestra Voz at a New Orleans rally to preserve DACA Sept. 7. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Mary Moran with Nuestra Voz at a New Orleans rally to preserve DACA Sept. 7.

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has approved new guidelines that immigrant advocacy groups hope will protect students from law enforcement interaction and intimidation.

“School should be a safe place for all children,” OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. said in a statement Sept. 15. “The Orleans Parish School Board holds this as a basic principle.”

The policies provide guidelines for school administration for what to do when law enforcement and immigration agents arrive on a campus. The policies (which apply only to direct-run OPSB schools) clarify that "such investigations should not disrupt the education environment at school sites."

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mayoral candidates tackle issues facing musicians, social aid and pleasure clubs

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 7:15 PM

Baby Dolls parading in 2017. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Baby Dolls parading in 2017.

While the New Orleans Saints kicked off their 2017 season, a crowd filled the Carver Theater Sept. 11 to hear how eight mayoral candidates plan to protect musicians and artists as the city and its cultural communities brace for another bout.

Moderator Lolis Eric Elie said music and cultural policy is "one of the most important and least discussed aspects" of the campaign. Candidates largely agreed that a lack of affordable housing as well as inequitable event fees and unsustainable payouts for gigs have threatened artists' and their families' abilities to live in New Orleans.

All candidates agreed to change the fee structures for parades and events for social aid and pleasure clubs and masking groups and echoed a “music is not a crime” mantra, though each had different ideas for ensuring protections for musicians and workers in a cultural economy and how they’d be represented at City Hall under their respective administrations.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

'We deserve better': New Orleans residents demand transparency at Sewerage & Water Board

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Flooding in Mid-City Aug. 5. - PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Flooding in Mid-City Aug. 5.

New Orleans residents from Algiers, Gentilly, Pontchartrain Park and New Orleans East sent a letter to the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) requesting guided tours of pumping stations in each neighborhood following revelations of downed pumps, broken power supplies and dysfunction throughout the agency and flood response at City Hall.

Pontchartrain Park resident Jerome Wilson’s car was flooded during Aug. 5 floods. “We have serious concerns about the functionality of pumps and drains in our neighborhoods and want to obtain a better understanding of the problems and solutions as the Sewerage & Water Board works to restore pumping/drainage capacity and mend relations with citizens,” he said in a statement.

"Had we taken the time to look at the pumps, I don't think it would've happened," New Orleans East resident Gladies Hamilton told Gambit. "It's happened too often."

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Monday, September 4, 2017

New Orleans joins Labor Day fight for $15 minimum wage

Posted By on Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 12:00 AM

A "Fight for $15" march in 2016 rallied on Canal Street. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • A "Fight for $15" march in 2016 rallied on Canal Street.

Sabreal Ealem has worked in fast food for three years — she got her start at McDonald's, then Popeye's, then McDonald's again. Now she works while studying criminal justice at Southern University at New Orleans. "It's always been about work and school for me," she says. "I've never had a normal teenager life."

Ealam's mother and sister also work in fast food, earning minimum wage, or far less than the $15 minimum wage Ealem is calling for as part of a national movement demanding wage increases and the right to unionize. "The minimum wage has always separated my family — we've either been in work or at school," she says. "We rarely see each other. The minimum wage is separating families — not just mine."

As the U.S. celebrates Labor Day to close out a three-day weekend for many Americans, a growing chorus of low-wage workers, workers rights groups, unions, clergy and other organizations will push local, state and federal officials to raise minimum wages. McDonald's workers and supporters in New Orleans join a strike and add support behind the national Fight For $15 campaign led by Service Employees International Union. New Orleans' Labor Day protests are among other calls to action in 300 cities.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You already know: A mayoral forum for millennials will feature Big Freedia

Posted By on Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 4:36 PM

  • Courtesy Fuse TV
  • Big Freedia.

A group called the Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative will host "Millennials Matter: Mayoral Forum" at Cafe Istanbul at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 — and the event will feature a performance by Big Freedia.

LaToya Cantrell, Troy Henry, Michael Bagneris, Hashim Walters, Manny Chevrolet Bruno, Derrick O’Brien Martin, Johnese Smith and Tommie Vassel are among the mayoral candidates who have pledged to attend, according to the group, with more to follow. Whether any of them will twerk for votes remains to be seen.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Loyola to host mayoral forum on 'The Challenges of Calling New Orleans Home'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 2:55 PM

Mayoral candidates Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet.
  • Mayoral candidates Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet.

"Is New Orleans Worth It?' we asked in this week's cover story, and now the Preservation Resource Center and the Louisiana Landmarks Society will sponsor a Sept. 19 mayoral forum at Loyola University to ask a similar question.

“Shaping a Livable Historic City: The Challenges of Calling New Orleans Home” is the focus of the forum, which is hosted by the Center for the Study of New Orleans and The Institute of Politics at Loyola University New Orleans.

The university says the "three leading mayoral candidates" (presumably Michael Bagneris, Desiree Charbonnet and LaToya Cantrell) "will address the future of the city of New Orleans on the eve of its Tricentennial. Discussion topics include housing costs and density, short-term rentals and the impact of tourism on neighborhoods, enforcement of the master plan and zoning law, preservation and its economic effect, infrastructure, and transportation."

The forum, which is free and open to the public, takes place in Nunemaker Auditorium on the third floor of Monroe Hall from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. 
Location Details Loyola University New Orleans, Monroe Hall, Nunemaker Auditorium
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA
(504) 865-2011

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Report: Coroner Jeffrey Rouse will not seek reelection

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 6:18 PM

New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse.

New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse has dropped his campaign for reelection in the two-man contest for the job — but it's too late to get his name off the ballot. In a statement Aug. 24, Rouse said he had only "reluctantly" filed for reelection this summer but announced he will refocus on his work in psychiatric care, in which he worked prior to his election in 2014.

Dwight McKenna, who Rouse beat in that election, is the only other contender in the 2017 race. Rouse congratulated McKenna "on becoming the first African-American coroner of our great city" — though votes cast for Rouse in the fall will still count. If he wins, Rouse will have to submit his resignation, leaving an interim coroner in his place before the city holds a special election.

Rouse was running for his second term as coroner, a position held by only three people over the last five decades. Rouse's predecessor, Dr. Frank Minyard, served 10 consecutive terms in the office, beginning in 1974. Minyard had backed Rouse, who worked under Minyard in psychiatry for more than a decade and also served as his chief deputy coroner before running for the office — a position Rouse asserts should not be elected.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Uptown Messenger report: Mayoral candidate Scurlock suggests Aug. 5 flood is proof 'God is not happy' with New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Frank Scurlock, mayoral candidate. - FACEBOOK/FRANK SCURLOCK
  • Frank Scurlock, mayoral candidate.

In an interview with Uptown Messenger
, mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock said that a disrespect for history is “why God has washed and flooded the City twice in 2 weeks. Maybe he is not happy.”:
“It’s not just the monument issue,” Scurlock said. “Quite frankly, when you look at the crime rates, the poverty rates — I just think there’s a higher power that is looking over everything, and he wants people to remove the hate.

“New Orleans East needs a cleansing in itself,” Scurlock said. “There’s hardly anything going right, except the opening of dollar stores.”
Read the whole interview here.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

New Orleans joins growing Democratic Socialists movement in U.S.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) recently announced its card-carrying membership reached 25,000, its biggest assembly yet, as the organization prepared to host its Chicago conference this weekend with hundreds of representatives from chapters around the U.S. It's likely the largest gathering of socialists in the country in decades.

Among those chapters is New Orleans, which went from a few dues-paying members to more than 70 within a few months after being formally recognized earlier this year. Hundreds of others regularly attend its chapter meetings.

Interest in DSA groups follows significant momentum following Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign, as well as frustration with status quo politics and moderate and center-leaning Democrats in the wake of the 2016 election and President Donald Trump's administration. Surge in membership and interest in socialism mirrors a national political realignment among young people, the majority of whom don't support capitalism. And young people also are growing in support for like-minded issues like health care — 67 percent of people under 30 believe the government has a responsibility to provide health coverage, and 45 percent believe it should be provided through a single-payer program.

Support for a single-payer system is growing, too, up to 33 percent as of June 2017 — up 5 points from January 2017 and 12 points from 2014.

On The Intercept, Zaid Jilani asks, "Now what?"

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