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What to know in New Orleans this week (Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 2018) 

Aretha, Aerosmith, Sting among2018 Jazz Fest headliners
Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, David Byrne, Jack White, Sting, Jimmy Buffett, Beck, Lionel Richie, Steve Miller Band, Sturgill Simpson, Sheryl Crow, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt, Smokey Robinson and many others will perform at the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The fest returns to the New Orleans Fairgrounds April 27-29 and May 3-6.

  Tickets are $65 in advance and $80 at the gate. Tickets for "Locals Thursday" May 3 are $50.

  Sting headlines the festival's opening day on Friday, April 27. Franklin headlines Saturday, April 28, and Byrne and Buffett perform Sunday, April 29.

  Richie opens the festival's second weekend on Thursday, May 3, and Beck performs Friday, May 4. Aerosmith headlines the fest's second Saturday (May 5), and closing out the festival on Sunday, May 6 are Jack White and Trombone Shorty. For more information, visit www.nojazzfest.com.

Edwards presents 'doomsday' budget to legislative committee
Gov. John Bel Edwards presented a 2019 doomsday budget last week with deep cuts in the popular TOPS college scholarship program and state health services, saying he hopes they never go into effect. Under his proposal, TOPS would be gutted, losing all $233 million in state general funds, while the budget for higher education institutions would be slashed an additional $25.6 million. The Department of Health and Hospitals, which oversees the state's Medicaid program and hospitals, would sustain a $488 million cut in state funding and ultimately lose $2.3 billion once federal matching funds are factored in.

  All the cuts would take effect July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

  "There's not a cut in that budget proposal that I'm advocating," the governor said when presenting his proposal to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. "Not a single one."

  The budget calls for a $6 million cut at the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, just over 24 percent of its general fund allocation. The proposal also includes a $3 million cut to the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry, $13.8 million to juvenile justice services and all $19 million to public safety services. While money for public safety was stripped from the general fund budget, the administration proposed a fee increase to make up most of the lost dollars, leaving a $5 million cut overall.

  Despite major cuts, several key areas, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Children and Family Services and most of K-12 education, were spared.

  "Tell me what aspects of my plan you can live with, and for the parts you can't, bring me your own plan," Edwards said. "I cannot negotiate with myself."

  The governor said he was forced to propose the cuts because a temporary 1 percent increase in the state sales tax, implemented in 2016, will expire June 30, stripping the state budget of roughly $1 billion in discretionary spending.

  While Democratic legislators largely were sympathetic to Edwards' proposal, some Republican lawmakers were not convinced the governor had looked hard enough for other possible cuts that might have less impact (see Commentary, p. 11). "I think there are more opportunities on the expense side," Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, said at the budget committee hearing. "I don't think you've spent the time honestly looking at our expenses. I believe there are other opportunities to reduce the budget, and I would appreciate if you would take the time to drill down and look at those."

  Republican leaders have not said much about the kind of fiscal reform measures they might support. Edwards, Louisiana's only statewide-elected Democrat, told reporters over the weekend that House Speaker Taylor Barras had not told him which suggestions Republicans might be willing to back. Edwards said he expects to see a "fleshed-out" proposal from Barras by the end of the month.

  The state constitution bars lawmakers from raising taxes in even-numbered years. Without a special session to solve the fiscal problems, legislators will have to enact deep cuts to state services during the regular legislative session that begins in March. Edwards had hoped for a February special session, but that's unlikely without GOP buy-in for revenue measures.

  A special session following adjournment of the regular session in June also is possible. That would leave state agencies and universities with little time to make adjustments before their budgets take effect July 1. Edwards told the joint budget committee on Jan. 22 that he is not in favor of a June special session, saying, "There's still time to come together and responsibly get this done. We can do this." — ASHLEY WOLF & TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS | MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE

Alliance chapters endorse Atkins, Lopinto
While most folks are focused on Mardi Gras these days, the March 24 primary in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish has candidates seeking major endorsements already. One of the most sought-after nods is that of the Alliance for Good Government. The New Orleans chapter of the Alliance last week endorsed Civil Court Clerk Dale Atkins in the citywide race for the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, while the Jefferson Parish chapter threw its support to interim Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto in the special election for parish sheriff. Runoffs, if needed, will be April 28.

Landrieu declines meeting with Trump after latest 'sanctuary cities' dustup
After another round of pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice on so-called "sanctuary" cities, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and mayors from cities across the U.S. pulled out of an infrastructure meeting with the White House scheduled for Jan. 24.

  In a statement as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Landrieu said President Donald Trump's "decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again — and use cities as political props in the process — has made this meeting untenable."

  Earlier that day, the Justice Department issued letters to 23 jurisdictions across the U.S., warning they could lose certain funding if they don't prove cooperation with federal immigration authorities about the status of people in their custody. In a press conference, Landrieu said he had planned to attend the meeting but would not do so "under false pretenses to talk about infrastructure, and have this letter issued today at 12 o'clock, when the White House fully knew" the meeting was scheduled.

  Landrieu was in Washington D.C. for the group's 86th annual winter session covering "immigration, infrastructure and disaster recovery strategies." The White House meeting was set to cover infrastructure plans and projects, and several mayors representing the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative still were scheduled to join the meeting, including Louisiana Mayors Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge and Lionel Johnson of St. Gabriel.

click to enlarge Members of Jewish Voice for Peace New Orleans held up signs and sang to support a human rights resolution the New Orleans City Council rescinded Jan. 25. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Photo by Alex Woodward
  • Members of Jewish Voice for Peace New Orleans held up signs and sang to support a human rights resolution the New Orleans City Council rescinded Jan. 25.

Controversial human rights resolution roils Council meeting
New Orleans police kept an overflow crowd from entering a packed New Orleans City Council meeting Jan. 25, when the first item on the agenda was reconsideration of a human rights resolution following mounting pressure from local and national groups and contentious debate over City Hall's role in the Middle East.

  The council voted unanimously to withdraw the resolution it originally passed Jan. 11. Adoption of the initial resolution followed months of drafting by its proponents, who advocated reviewing local contracts and investments to determine whether the city does business with companies involved with human rights violations abroad.

  Advocates argued the resolution is a first step in holding officials accountable and to enshrine human rights protections. Opponents warned the resolution could pose severe consequences to New Orleans as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement supporting Palestinian independence from Israel.

  More than 200 people showed up in the City Council's temporary chambers at the Orleans Parish School Board office in Algiers. Supporters who were turned away pressed themselves against the frosted glass walls and doors, holding signs in support of the original resolution, which offended the local Jewish community.

  Council President Jason Williams said the resolution's introduction and passage under suspension of rules at the Jan. 11 meeting prevent- ed opportunity for public discussion. "By no means was that done tac- tically, but it certainly unfairly circum-vented full public participation and discourse, and that's a problem," he said. "The voice of this council has been represented in national media outlets and international media outlets saying far more than what was said in the four corners of the document."

  District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who introduced the resolution but was absent for the Jan. 11 vote, apologized for the resolution's "unintended consequences" and said its passage "has shrouded the city in damaging falsehoods" that don't "reflect the values of New Orleans."

  Arnie Fielkow, former at-large councilman and current president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, said he respected the resolution's supporters but doesn't believe that it "in any way advances what I hope is a common goal for everyone in this building," which he says is "a peaceful resolution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  The resolution doesn't mention Israel or any other country. Proponents say the resolution's critics have unjustly conflated support for Palestine with anti-Jewish sentiment. Chicago Rabbi Michael Davis condemned local groups who have charged the resolution's proponents with anti-Semitism. Tabitha Mustafa, an organizer with the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee, said, "It's completely unfair and ridiculous to think a group of all-white Jews can say that every person out there, every person of color, every person from a marginalized community, doesn't matter."

  Williams explained that despite his support alongside members of several local progressive organizations during the resolution's inception, "We all need to realize there's a difference between a friend you're in disagreement with and a mortal enemy." He added, "There are not two sides to this issue. There are a number of sides."

  A group representing Jewish Voice for Peace began to sing as Williams made a motion to withdraw the ordinance. Williams then adjourned the meeting without a vote as the room began to clear, with a growing chorus of "in hope and prayer we find ourselves here."

  With only a handful of people remaining, and a singing crowd lined up along the hallway outside the room, the City Council reconvened and voted to withdraw the original resolution. Police blocked the door and kept people from entering while the vote was taken.

City Council ABO surveillance ordinance vote deferred until March
The New Orleans City Council has deferred until March 8 a vote on a sweeping plan for businesses that sell alcohol, including a controversial proposed ordinance that requires those businesses to install security cameras to be streamed into the city's new real-time monitoring center.

  The council likely will have to send the ordinance through its Governmental Affairs Committee first. That committee's next meeting is 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, at 1340 Poydras St. The latest deferral was the second for the proposed ordinance.

Essence Festival headliners announced
Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Miguel and The Roots are among the performers headed to 2018's Essence Festival, returning to the Superdome July 5-8.

  Weekend passes to the annual Fourth of July music festival and conference begin at $150.

  Badu and Scott will share a co-headlining spot, and Doug E. Fresh hosts a "Legends of Hip-Hop Show" with Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee and others. There also are DJ sets from actor Idris Elba and MC Lyte. Teddy Riley will host a "New Jack Swing Experience" featuring Wreckx-n-Effect, Blackstreet and Guy.

Jazz Fest posters honor Fats and Freedia
Along with the official New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival lineup, Jazz Fest organizers have revealed the festival's official commemorative posters. The main poster is a colorful rendering of the late Fats Domino by artist Terrance Osborne, while the Congo Square poster is an image of Big Freedia by Kevin Brisco Jr.

  Osborne's image features Domino playing piano on a small stage on a curving New Orleans street, while Brisco's features the Queen of Bounce standing in a doorway. Both posters are on sale for $69 apiece, with signed and overpainted posters available at higher prices.

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Speaking of Aerosmith, 'doomsday' Budget

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