Sunday, September 17, 2017

If the candidates aren’t inspiring voters, maybe voters should inspire the candidates

Posted By on Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

CREATIVE COMMONS/MRS. GEMSTONE
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/MRS. GEMSTONE

We’re now less than two weeks away from early voting in the New Orleans citywide elections, and so far no mayoral candidate has captured voters’ imagination or articulated a message that resonates. In fact, most voters’ reaction to the field of would-be mayors is a collective yawn.

That’s scary, because one of those candidates will be New Orleans’ next mayor.

Former Jefferson Parish Sheriff-turned-WWL radio host Newell Normand offered an interesting remedy to that situation last week: If the candidates aren’t inspiring voters, maybe voters should inspire the candidates.

It’s not just a clever turn of phrase. Two citizen-driven organizations are making moves right now to disseminate candidates’ specific stances on hot-button issues: Forward New Orleans (FNO) and the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR). Voters should use FNO’s and BGR’s reports, which are available online, to light a fire under candidates at the numerous forums being held around town.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

At rally and march, New Orleans service industry workers call for better treatment

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 6:22 PM

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At a small but lively rally and march Sept. 16 that ended across from New Orleans tourism ground zero Jackson Square, New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee (NOHWC) and supporters stood up for the rights of the city's service industry workers.

About 75 people attended the event, which was NOHWC's first rally supporting predictable scheduling, higher wages, sick pay, paid breaks, freedom from harassment, access to health care and other benefits — many of which are standard in many other industries, but denied to service industry workers.

Speakers called for more equitable treatment for the employees who support the city's $7.41 billion tourism industry. In speeches and chants, they stressed a simple idea: workers are operating the city's hundreds of restaurants, hotels and hospitality outlets without sharing in the profits.

"We produce that money. We run the restaurant and hotel industry for [business owners]. Without us, the industry would collapse," NOHWC member Meg Maloney said. "We have to put pressure on them from below."

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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

Review: Columbus

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 5:14 PM

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The internet has made it easy for aspiring filmmakers to show their work and — in some cases — launch professional careers. A former film scholar who calls himself Kogonada may be the first filmmaker to emerge from the internet-based world of “supercuts,” a remix culture in which fans compile and mash-up clips from feature films to create something new.

Kogonada long has been more than a casual fan or participant in supercut culture. His short pieces are visual essays often made to illuminate the art of filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Bresson, Richard Linklater and Steven Soderbergh. (Examples of Kogonada’s mesmerizing work are freely available at kogonada.com.) As his reputation grew, Kogonada was commissioned by the British Film Institute, The Criterion Collection and others to create new essays. He abandoned work on a doctoral dissertation on Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu when he realized he would rather create his own feature films than dissect the work of others.

The film industry soon came calling and the result is Columbus, Kogonada’s debut feature. Probably best described as the world’s first architecture drama, Columbus builds on the essence of the director’s visual essays by offering new ways of seeing modern art and its place in the world. Kogonada had never even visited a film set before starting work on his feature, which should serve as inspiration for any film industry outsider harboring dreams of cinematic glory.

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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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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
  • 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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Chef shuffles at Tommy's Cuisine, Emeril's, Broussard's

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 9:58 AM

David Slater is now the director of culinary development at Emeril's Homebase. - COURTESY EMERIL LAGASSE FOUNDATION
  • COURTESY EMERIL LAGASSE FOUNDATION
  • David Slater is now the director of culinary development at Emeril's Homebase.

Longtime Emeril’s New Orleans chef David Slater has been promoted to director of culinary development at Emeril’s Homebase, Emeril Lagasse’s corporate headquarters. Slater, who started to work for the restaurant group in 2001 at Emeril’s Orlando, was most recently the chef de cuisine at Emeril’s New Orleans (800 Tchoupitoulas St., 504- 528-9393).

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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.

40 Arpent Brewing Company to close today

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 2:09 PM

NORA MCGUNNIGLE
  • NORA MCGUNNIGLE

40 Arpent Brewing Company announced via social media that the brewery is closing permanently at 4 p.m. Sept. 14

The closure is "related to differences between (business) partners," founder Michael Naquin told Gambit.

40 Arpent began brewing and introduced its first beer in 2014. It added a taproom at its Arabi brewery in October 2016, and offered signature beers such as Red Bean Ale , Duckweed IPA, Deutches Haus Oktoberfest.

Naquin said he has no current plans to re-open the brewery.

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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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