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What to know in New Orleans this week (Feb. 20-26, 2018) 

If you're looking to unload those 40-pound sacks of plastic headed for the back of your closet, consider making a trip to one of several branches of the New Orleans Public Library, which is partnering with the Arc of Greater New Orleans to recycle Mardi Gras beads and other parade throws.

  Arc of Greater New Orleans helps create wage-earning jobs for people with intellectual disabilities to sort and repackage throws for future Carnivals. It recently opened its recycling center at 925 Labarre Road in Metairie, and the group also partnered with the Young Leadership Council to collect throws after the Freret and Thoth parades.

  You can bring your beads and throws to the following New Orleans library locations: Algiers Regional Library (3014 Holiday Drive), Alvar Library (913 Alvar St.), Children's Resource Center Library (913 Napoleon Ave.), East New Orleans Regional Library (5641 Read Blvd.), Cita Dennis Hubbell Library (725 Pelican Ave.), Rosa F. Keller Library (4300 S. Broad Ave.), Milton H. Latter Memorial Library (5120 St. Charles Ave.), Main Library (219 Loyola Ave.), Norman Mayer Library (3001 Gentilly Blvd.), Mid-City Library (4140 Canal St.) and Robert E. Smith Library (6310 Canal Blvd.).

Quote of the week
"I actually didn't know who Jimmy Kimmel was." — U.S. Sen. and physician Bill Cassidy, explaining to the Washington Examiner he wasn't aware of the late-night talk show host when he somehow agreed to go on Jimmy Kimmel Live in May 2017 to discuss his health care plan. It was an odd explanation from Cassidy, who coined the term "Jimmy Kimmel test" to pledge he would not support any health care plan where a family would be "denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can't afford it."

  The appearance backfired not long after when Kimmel analyzed Cassidy's health care overhaul, which fell far short of Cassidy's own "Jimmy Kimmel test," and he declared Cassidy was lying "right to my face."

Landrieu's memoir gets an official launch event — in New York
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has added another date to his upcoming book tour. He'll be interviewed at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn, New York March 21, discussing his memoir In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, which will be released by Viking/Penguin the day before. The evening will be moderated by The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb, and it will serve as the book's official launch, according to the event website. Tickets are $28 and include a copy of Landrieu's book.

  Other dates on Landrieu's tour, which first was revealed by Gambit, include March 26 in Atlanta, March 28 in Philadelphia and March 29 in Washington, D.C.

  Viking/Penguin has kept a tight lid on both the book and Landrieu's tour, at least locally. Publicist Louise Braverman told Gambit and at least one other local media outlet that no galleys or advance copies of Landrieu's book were available, and she did not confirm the book tour. A seven-minute snippet of the audio book (read by Landrieu) appeared last week on the Viking/Penguin website.

Trump administration proposes radical overhaul of SNAP benefits
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps roughly 46 million people with low or no income buy groceries. In Louisiana, it serves more than 920,000 people each month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  In its budget proposal last week, President Donald Trump's administration floated repacking roughly half of the $24 billion to $29 billion per year in SNAP benefits into a preselected box of shelf-stable items (Budget Director Mick Mulvaney compared it to the home-delivery food company Blue Apron), a potentially dramatic overhaul of a program meant to combat food insecurity and ensure people earning lower incomes have access to healthy foods.

  The other half of those funds would be cut entirely.

  Officials largely believe the plan has no chance, though it has baited and incensed Democrat and Republican lawmakers while the White House looks to make more than $200 billion in cuts to food assistance programs over the next decade. Among those cuts: ending waivers to states allowing people to access SNAP benefits without a work requirement. States could only receive a waiver if un-employment is above 10 percent, "an extremely high bar that will miss many locations where few jobs are available to lower-skilled workers," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

  In 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order requiring unemployed, able-bodied childless adults to sign up with the state's workforce training programs before receiving SNAP benefits; Edwards also had renewed a then-expiring waiver, preventing SNAP losses to 31,000 people.

  In Louisiana the program is administered by the state Department of Children and Family Services. The department's public information officer Heidi Rogers Kinchen told Gambit the department still is reviewing the proposals before determining their impact.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY WWL-TV
  • Photo courtesy WWL-TV

Eric Paulsen remembers Fats in a 30-minute special
WWL-TV will air Fats Domino: Eric Paulsen Remembers at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, a special charting the interviews and friendship struck up between the late musician and Paulsen, the newsman who landed a 2004 interview with the famously reclusive Domino. (Disclosure: WWL-TV is Gambit's TV partner.)

  Excerpts and previously unseen footage from that interview will be included, as well as footage from a subsequent interview Paulsen conducted after floodwaters destroyed Domino's house on Caffin Avenue in the Lower 9th Ward following Hurricane Katrina.

  Domino died in October 2017.

Hard Rock Hotel coming to Canal Street
Hard Rock International announced last week its plans to build an 18-story Hard Rock Hotel at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets. The plan includes 350 rooms and 62 residences, as well as "an upscale restaurant that will be quickly known for its authentic Louisiana seafood, offering low-key music, ridiculously good drinks, and a place where tradition and tales are shared and celebrated."

  It's the first Hard Rock Hotel planned for the city (there's a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi), though New Orleans has had a Hard Rock Cafe for more than two decades. It opened first on Decatur Street, then moved to the first block of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter in 2013.

  Harrah's New Orleans Casino also announced plans recently to build a second hotel on Canal Street.


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