We only need to look at former Plaquemine Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle’s sentencing yesterday — nearly 46 months for accepting bribes from contractors anxious to do business with his parish — to quickly realize that being a Louisiana sheriff with millions of dollars to dole out to greedy contractors and consultants can be a very slippery slope.
One Sheriff who never made a major misstep and could be coming back around for another term is former Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Charles Foti. Now, in the private practice of law, Foti is bombarded by people every day who are asking him to take on his former protégé, Sheriff Marlin Gusman. It’s even possible that Foti’s cousin, Mitch Landrieu, is one of those speaking with him.
But despite the perception these incidents create, and in spite of a generally shrinking New Orleans Police Department, Uptown has seen a dramatic decrease of 50 percent or more in the number of armed robberies reported in 2013 from the same period of time last year, according to statistics compiled from NOPD sources.
Like Mardi Gras beads on a St. Charles crape myrtle, the debate over what to do with the New Orleans World Trade Center has lingered. The problem is that the World Trade Center, built in 1967, is widely regarded as a landmark. Nevertheless, its future is in peril. The city seems determined to see it scrapped. Others are raising their voices to have it preserved.
A dilapidated mansion on Baronne Street and a former school building nearby on Polymnia are among nine of the most endangered sites in in New Orleans this year, according to the Louisiana Landmarks Society.
The Broadmoor Improvement Association is withdrawing its name from a list of groups supporting an effort to strengthen the city’s noise ordinance, because its original inclusion was the result of a misunderstanding, an association official said.
Private donations and emergency repairs continue extending the lengthy career of the New Orleans Police station at the corner of Magazine and Napoleon bit by bit, but the 110-year-old building may finally be in line to retire from service in the next few years.
Money is already being allocated to replace the crumbling structure, city officials said Wednesday, but before the project can move much further, a decision must first be made on where the new Second District station will be.
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who has been spearheading a review of the city’s Mardi Gras ordinances, said she is open to exploring the idea of changing the parade schedule to include routes other than St. Charles Avenue, according to a report by Monica Hernandez of our partners at WWL-TV.
“It’s maybe reaching out to other neighborhoods to see who is interested in taking on the load,” Cantrell said. “Again, you don’t want to make those decisions that will involve and have an impact on neighborhoods without engaging them in the discussion.”
The NOPD anti-crime marches that have been postponed the last few months because of rain are scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, June 26) in the Milan and Hollygrove neighborhoods.
The flow of blight remediation in New Orleans may be measured in a broken pendulum of hopscotched city blocks. Often changes in demography, population, and the chosen dwellings therein might find a more traditional barometric approach of build it and they will come, a law of attraction of sorts. Schools, pools, Starbucks, what have you. But for the Crescent City, the block by block measures, even house by house, may seem a little unusual to the inexperienced newcomer or curb loving suburbanite. And a wonderful example caught my eye the other afternoon, a glacial kinetic landscape too good to pass up. Enter Danneel and Foucher.
A section of Cohn Street that collapsed in March has finally been repaired, according to a report by Bill Capo and our partners at WWL-TV.
“Music is one of the oldest forms of human expression. From Plato’s discourse in the Republic to the totalitarian state in our own times, rulers have known its capacity to appeal to the intellect and to the emotions, and have censored musical compositions to serve the needs of the state . . . The Constitution prohibits any like attempts in our own legal order. Music, as a form of expression and communication, is protected under the First Amendment.”
— Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 790 (1989).
“Noise can be regulated by regulating decibels. The hours and place of public discussion can be controlled. But to allow the police to bar the use of loud-speakers because their use can be abused is like barring radio receivers because they too make a noise. The police need not be given the power to deny a man the use of his radio in order to protect a neighbor against sleepless nights. The same is true here. Any abuses which loud-speakers create can be controlled by narrowly drawn statutes.”
— Justice Douglas, writing for the majority, Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 558, 561-2 (1948).
This past week a coalition of thirteen neighborhood groups of varying levels of legitimacy proposed a seven-point scheme for controlling excess “noise” in the City of New Orleans, particularly in the French Quarter. They claim that their plans are eminently reasonable. I’ll summarize their proposals. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether they are reasonable:
“I want a safe neighborhood.” On any given day I must hear this a good dozen times from newbies (and parents of newbies) moving to New Orleans, less so from those that are returning or looking for a change of scenery already calling the city home. And the why is simple I think: if you’ve chosen to reside in the city proper then you likely engage on a level of “This ain’t Mayberry.” Yes, it is a Southern space that affords the stereotypes therein where neighbors and strangers alike trade routine pleasantries, comments on the weather, and the not so stray parallel park assist, but that doesn’t translate to lowering your guard or not following your gut.
Everyone wants a safe neighborhood, but arguably crime happens all over; there isn’t a corner in the Crescent City any one can point to and say ‘Here! It’s totally safe here in the Cemetery District. Unlock your doors, and leave your bike unchained and smart phone unattended.”
At the time, the Daiquiri Place owners argued unsuccessfully that Santa Fe Tapas next door was a major contributor to the problem. Now, attorneys for the city are making a similar complaint, bringing nuisance charges against Santa Fe Tapas before the city’s alcohol board.
Four Uptown neighborhood groups — the Broadmoor Improvement Association, the Garden District Association, Maple Area Residents Inc. and St. Charles Avenue Association — are among 13 petitioning city officials to strengthen the city’s noise ordinance, arguing for measures such as designating a specific individual with enforcing it and measuring sound levels from venues’ property lines.
Jeremy Wilcox, a New Orleans police officer who served most recently in the Uptown-based Second District, was removed from the force Tuesday based on a 2004 bad check for $2,505 discovered after a traffic stop last summer in which he was driving a truck without a license plate, authorities said.
With more Mardi Gras krewes moving to the St. Charles Avenue route, a series of proposals would return the celebration to its neighborhood routes by “bolstering an alternative major parade route in Mid-City, working with Jefferson and the other parishes to coordinate regional parade schedules, adjusting regulations to allow neighborhoods to hold much smaller Mardi Gras Krewe processions, and encouraging those neighborhoods to form ‘Krewes of their own’, something between marching clubs and small float processions,” according to a recent article by Christoper Tidmore for the Louisiana Weekly.
Jefferson Parish officials would be enthusiastic about having a night or two more focused on their parades, Tidmore writes, suggesting that they might help with some Orleans Parish parade-route enforcement on other nights in exchange, a potentially attractive option as the multi-million dollar bill for the federal NOPD consent decree looms.
The proposals may be timely, as City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell spends the year brainstorming potential changes to the city’s Mardi Gras ordinances.