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I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans this Week (Aug 8, 2017) 

The White House last week defended Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after criticism from Mayor Mitch Landrieu about the agency's claim that some police departments don't cooperate with federal authorities on immigration issues.

  In June, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan told reporters at the White House that "some law enforcement agencies fail to honor detainers or release serious criminal offenders," which "undermines ICE's ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission."

  Landrieu — speaking as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Aug. 2 in Washington, D.C. — warned about that kind of "heightened rhetoric" coming from the executive office. "First of all, he's just wrong about that," Landrieu said. "I'm not aware of any mayor or any police department that releases violent criminals on the streets of America. Irrespective of immigration status, our police departments are out there every day making sure the streets of America are safe."

  Speaking to reporters later that day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she trusts Homan's opinion over Landrieu's. "I think that's pretty safe to say," she said. Homan has "been able to see it in a lot of places, not just one location, like the mayor," she said.

  Landrieu said he's willing to discuss policing reform as it relates to ICE enforcement "as long as it's constitutional and as long as it doesn't rip the community apart.

  "Our No. 1 priority is taking violent criminals — especially people in gangs — off of the streets," said Landrieu, clarifying that once a person is fingerprinted and in custody, "ICE gets communicated about that immediately."

2. Quote of the week
"Politics is like sports now. I mean, how many sports fans do you know who will pick up the news one morning and say, 'You know what? I'm not gonna be a Yankees fan any more.' They're Yankees fans for life. And that's how people are about politics now, certainly more than they were before." — Journalist Matt Taibbi, in a conversation with's Sean Illing that ran last week.

3. Cassidy weighs in on proposed immigration changes
As President Donald Trump advanced his "Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment" (RAISE) Act last week, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy told CNN he supported the aims of the proposed legislation, which would give priority to skilled workers rather than family members of Americans. His reasoning, in part, was to boost employment chances — not just for the immigrants themselves, but for those already living in the U.S.

  "This is not just about those who are coming, it's also about those who are here," Cassidy said. "And those who are here will be more prosperous if an entrepreneur comes into their depressed community and creates a business which then creates thousands of jobs. We have to consider not just those coming, but first those who are here. I think the president is doing that."

  The RAISE Act would award points to potential green card holders based on things like job skills and English proficiency. It also would reduce the number of green cards issued by half — to 500,000 — by 2027. It is likely to face strong opposition by Democrats.

4. Wildes to retire from Loyola
The Rev. Kevin Wildes, who has served as president of Loyola University of New Orleans for more than 13 years, announced last week he will retire in May 2018. In an email sent to the Loyola community Aug. 4, Loyola Chairman of the Board of Trustees Paul Pastorek said a committee will begin a nationwide search to replace the university's 16th president, who notably steered the school through financial woes following Hurricane Katrina.

  In his announcement to Pastorek, Wildes highlighted recent enrollment numbers, retention rates and university rankings in The Princeton Review, as well as funding campaigns that "produced more gift income than any other period in our history" over the last few years. "While I will be sad to leave Loyola, and to leave all this exceptional community, I am above all excited, excited for our students and for the future of the university," Wildes wrote.

5. Landrieu calls Trump White House 'confused'
In an interview with POLITICO last week, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Washington, D.C. should pay closer attention to mayors as Congress debates tax reform and health care, critical issues for U.S. cities like New Orleans.

  "We're not a special interest group, we're the best partner that they have to deliver to our identical taxpayers services that are much, much needed," he said. Landrieu also criticized President Donald Trump's "confused" administration. "They have a very hard time staying on message and as a consequence it is hard to respond to," Landrieu said. "Whenever they want to find an issue that we have common ground on, and even ones that we disagree on, we're always ready to be engaged. We don't have an ideological bent; we don't have the freedom to do that. We have to work with any president at any time to try to find an answer that works."

  Landrieu, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, clarified to POLITICO that he doesn't have any particular future plans after his mayoral term ends in 2018. "I intend to finish really, really strong, to make sure I keep my eyes focused on the streets in the city of New Orleans and to make sure the people have my full attention and full commitment," he said. "When that's over, I'm going to take a nap."

6. Head grills DPW over catch basin debris problem
After heavy rains brought 4 inches of rain and street flooding in some New Orleans neighborhoods last month, New Orleans City Councilwoman At-Large Stacy Head asked Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Mark Jernigan why thousands of broken catch basins seemingly have been left untouched despite millions of dollars reserved in 2017's budget to clean and repair them.

  At the City Council's Public Works, Sanitation and Environmental Committee Aug. 1, Jernigan said only $300,000 of that budget is available, while the city is trying to secure an additional $2.7 million in federal money for Hurricane Isaac-related repairs and another $3 million in BP settlement funds. Jernigan said DPW has cleared out and repaired more than 7,300 catch basins so far this year and was on track to replace another 75 catch basin covers last week.

  Head also gathered several photos taken by residents of clogged drains and broken catch basins, including some that people "decorate" with potted plants in lieu of repairs.

7. Housing Alliance asks candidates to endorse platform
The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance is encouraging candidates running in municipal elections this fall to endorse the group's platform, a five-point plan aimed at preserving and expanding affordable housing and homeownership in New Orleans.

  The group's Put Housing First platform includes a candidate questionnaire and policy proposals, such as a rental registration, creating a fund to help homeowners and landlords renovate and reuse vacant lots, adding more dollars to a Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund and more tax relief for low-income homeowners who face increased property assessments and for property owners who wish to create affordable housing units.

  The platform also calls on candidates to support the Housing Authority of New Orleans' efforts to rebuild mixed-income housing, help find solutions to keep utility costs affordable, and help increase housing stock and availability for renters and homeowners with special needs.

  Visit for more information.

8. Gretna Heritage Festival announces lineup
KISS, The B-52s and Huey Lewis and the News will headline this year's Gretna Heritage Festival, which takes place Sep. 29-Oct. 1 in downtown Gretna.

  The 23rd annual festival's lineup also includes many local and regional acts, including the Chee Weez, Flow Tribe, Colin Lake, Honey Island Swamp Band, Rockin' Dopsie Jr., Amanda Shaw and more. As always, there will be food booths, carnival rides, a beer garden, arts and crafts and more.

  Tickets range from single-day passes ($20) to weekend passes ($47.50), along with VIP packages and premium pit passes, and are on sale now at

9. Preservation Resource Center's Gay retires
Patricia Gay, who has served as executive director of the nonprofit Preservation Resource Center (PRC) since 1980, announced her retirement last week. Gay had worked as a volunteer for the PRC since its founding in 1974. Jack Davis, a longtime PRC adviser and former journalist and news executive in New Orleans and Chicago, will serve as interim executive director while a search is made for Gay's replacement.

10. New monthly d ocumentary series at the Old U.S. Mint
Friends of the Cabildo (FOC) will present screenings of Louisiana-themed documentary films at the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.) starting next month and continuing through April 2018. Titles include Gleason, Big Charity and The Saints are Coming, which inaugurates the series just in time for the Black and Gold's 2017 season. It documents the football team's post-Hurricane Katrina return to the Superdome.

  Tickets to the five-film series are $65 ($57.50 for FOC members) and individual tickets are $15 ($12.50 FOC members). The schedule:

  Sept. 6: The Saints are Coming   Nov. 8: Zachary Richard: Cajun Heart

  Jan. 10, 2018: Gleason

  Feb. 28, 2018: Big Charity: The Death of America's Oldest Hospital Apr. 26, 2018: 1970 Jazz Fest Movies


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