New Orleans Life

Monday, September 18, 2017

Y@ Speak: when squirrels attack

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:30 PM

This week's episode chronicles the squirrel insurrection, Sen. Bill Cassidy's health care crusade, and the collapse of the New Orleans Saints.

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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

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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

Here's what riders had to say at public meetings about RTA's future

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 5:04 PM

A meeting participant selects preferred "premium transit corridors."
  • A meeting participant selects preferred "premium transit corridors."

At two public workshops held at New Orleans Public Library branches this week, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) riders were alternately enthusiastic and skeptical about elements that could be incorporated into the Strategic Mobility Plan set to roll out at the end of this year.

The workshops were part of a five-part series attended by over 100 people in New Orleans and Kenner, where participants took part in two exercises demonstrating the moving parts of a functional transit system. In one exercise, participants used pushpins to highlight routes among 13 potential "premium transit corridors" that could see expanded service. In another, they joined breakout groups to work to spend an imagined budget of $100 on different system enhancements, such as faster, more frequent service; retooled fare plans; modernized shelters at stops; park-and-ride areas and other options.

"Ideally, we'd have the best transit system in the world. Unfortunately, we only have so much money," Alex Miller, an urban planner with the Asakura Robinson team consulting on the Strategic Mobility Plan, explained.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival announces 2018 dates and lineup

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell. - COURTESY SLU
  • COURTESY SLU
  • Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell.
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival returns March 21-25, 2018, highlighted by speaker events, literary seminars and readings, theater performances, panels and other events.

Speakers include All Grown Up's Jami Attenberg, Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell, Detroit and Airline Highway playwright Lisa D'Amour, and Walter Isaacson, among others.

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre will present the festival namesake's signature play A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Maxwell Williams, and Southern Rep will run Williams' one-act And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens, directed by Ricky Graham. The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will present One Arm, Moises Kaufman’s adaptation of a Williams short story.

Williams' women characters are the focus of The Women of Williams, hosted by D'Amour and inviting women who have portrayed his characters to read his scenes and discuss his work.

There also are tribute readings, writing contests, and the simultaneous 15th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, the annual LGBT literary event.

Tickets go on sale in January. Visit the festival website for more information.

Report: New Orleans receives 'D' grade on 'Best Metros for Millennials' list

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 9:30 AM

CRISTIANO BETTA / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • CRISTIANO BETTA / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

In a new report from the website Apartment List that surveyed 75 U.S. metro areas, New Orleans ranked near the bottom of the nation's "Best Metros for Millennials."

According to the analysis, New Orleans was ranked 61st out of 75 possible areas studied based on scores related to its job market, affordability and livability. The city's worst ranking was its livability score (based on a rental satisfaction survey of factors including weather, crime, parks, nightlife and opportunities to date and make friends), where it ranked 62nd out of 75 areas. The New Orleans job market ranked 60th out of 75 areas.

Metro areas that top the list include smaller cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Provo, Utah and Madison, Wisconsin; as well as Southern cities including Charleston, South Carolina and Houston.

"The top 10 metros are inland metros with relatively low rents, primarily located in the Midwest and South," report author Sydney Bennet wrote. "These metros offer millennials more than just affordable housing options. They also provide strong job markets and vibrant social scenes."

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Service industry workers rally Sept. 16 for better wages, fair scheduling

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:00 AM

BRIAN SOLIS / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • BRIAN SOLIS / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

At a "Rally for Our Rights" Saturday, New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee (NOHWC) and supporters will convene to demand paid sick days, better wages, more equitable scheduling and other benefits for workers in the city's booming hospitality and tourism industry.

Organizers ask participants to wear aprons, chef pants and other service industry accessories to the rally, where speakers will share stories about mistreatment and retaliation in the workplace. They'll also talk about local organizing efforts, including an attempt to organize a Bywater restaurant that ended in conflict with restaurant ownership, NOHWC member Lita Farquhar says.

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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
  • 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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Monday, September 11, 2017

Y@ Speak: #OneTimeInNewOrleans

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 5:21 PM

A multimillion dollar ad campaign turned into a hashtag of horror stories, though it was discovered the hashtag was originated by Twitter user @BIG_KENNEY back in 2011 to document peeing in ashtrays and Mardi Gras stories. Follow your NOLA, folks.

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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
  • 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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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Y@ Speak: Harvey

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 11:30 AM


Louisiana braces for Hurricane Harvey (no longer what I call myself on the way to Pho Bang) and reaches out a helping hand. Plus: Hurricane Katrina, 12 years later, and Southern Decadence and the Fight For $15 in an extended post-Labor Day edition.

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