Bon to the jour, 2014 Carnival people! You may or may not know that the powers that be — read, your New Orleans City Council — have seen it in their infinite wisdom to make this Mardi Gras season one of change. “How so?” you may ask. That is, if you missed all the fuss last month? Before we roll through my standard top 20 we publish annually, in short here are the new rules and ordinances, with a few editorial embellishments:
As the Spanish-American Church heads back to the New Orleans City Council this week for another request to tear down their decaying building on Sophie Wright Place, neighbors and members of the Coliseum Square Association hope the stalemate over the building will lead to stronger enforcement of blight laws against neglectful nonprofits.
As the celebrities and athletes who came to town to party during the NBA All-Star Weekend board planes heading back to their posh lives — after they Instagram images of themselves looking fabulous and doing fabulous things like eating beignets and shooting hoops with underprivileged youth — New Orleans remains as bloody as ever.
The past twenty years have seen the popularization of a relatively new word: Disneyfication. The Wikipedia article on Disneyfication defines it as “a term which describes the transformation of something, usually society at large, to resemble The Walt Disney Company’s theme parks.”
Many people, including me, have linked this concept to policies coming from New Orleans City Hall.
Those of you who went to see the Krewe du Vieux parade Saturday evening were greeted by a float emblazoned: “Dizneylandrieu.” Beneath a caricature of Mitch Landrieu as Mickey Mouse, Krewe members dubbed “Mitchkateers” distributed maps of “mayor-approved adventure[s] in the Gentrified Kingdom.”
Good for the jurors who yesterday found former Mayor Ray Nagin guilty on 20 of 21 criminal charges in federal court.
Those of us who have watched Nagin closely for the eight years he was in office believe Ray thought he could con the jury, just as he fooled New Orleans voters in the 2002 and 2006 mayoral elections. His hubris brought to mind Danae’s initial impression after Ray’s emergence as a major candidate in the 2002 election. “Ray is a rock star,” Danae said. “He’s cool, handsome and clever. Ray’s not about substance. He’s about being Ray.”
“We have a lot of work to do on transportation safety, we know that, as long as kids are waiting on the bus in busy intersections, crossing four-lane highways and walking on roads with speed limits up to 40 miles per hour,” said City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who called the special meeting. “We have a real problem here, and we need to do everything we possibly can to provide real solutions.”
Share your viewpoint on public-school education policy-making and reform at a community breakfast with the Orleans Public Education Network at 7:30 a.m. Thursday (Feb. 13) at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School.
The Corps giveth and the Corps taketh away: The large structures blocking Jefferson Avenue near Magazine Street are in the process of being moved in time for Mardi Gras parades to make their usual turns around that corner, but soon afterward a four-block stretch of Prytania will close for about a year, officials said Wednesday.
Mr. Landrieu, tear down this fence.
I am speaking, of course, of the fence that has spanned the end of Newcomb Boulevard at Freret Street for the past several years. The installation of the fence was approved by the city at the behest of Newcomb’s well-heeled, well-connected residents who were concerned about through traffic clogging their street.
The first reports that will show what progress has been made in addressing “inhumane” conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison are due in a matter of weeks, according to live coverage of a panel discussion at Loyola University on the jail consent decree by Della Hasselle of MidCityMessenger.com.
You have to hand it to Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He ran a flawless campaign. His message was just what the voters wanted to hear and of course it helped that he had many millions of dollars to drive home his message through mail and tv, along with a very strong Get Out The Vote effort that capitalized on pure volunteers, unclassified employees and a skilled team of out-of-state professionals.
Judge Michael Bagneris, who got a late start, could not keep up. Judge Bagneris had to spend so much time driving to explain to the voters the Mayor’s failings, that he never had time to define his goals and method to reach them.
The controversial Orleans Parish Prison consent decree will be discussed during a symposium on prison reform this Friday.
The Prison Reform: Progress, Policies & Practices symposium will “initiate a dialogue between legal practitioners, community activists and others involved with reshaping the U.S. prison system,” according to a press release.
Early last month, New Orleans city officials promised that they would comply with a court order to remove a fence on Newcomb Boulevard “without delay.” More than a month later, the fence still stands, there is discussion about a City Council effort to make the street one-way, and the city still says it is working on the removal — “without delay.”
If you’ve never traversed the Crescent City by foot, you are missing out. You can really dig in the cracked pavement and tiered landscape, plus there’s a whole host of scents to engage traveling by bike or car one is likely to miss. Just the other night a group of us walked from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop over to the Marigny and the wafts of equal parts liquor, urine, and pot made for a less-than-appetizing nasal gumbo. But while one wrestles over the legal and the sanitary, in the French Quarter the street surfaces historically remain level. To say the least, it’s refreshing, especially if one is familiar with any other stretch within New Orleans where the mature oaks that pepper the streets over time have broken new ground, so to speak, giving the citizenry, say it with me: more broken sidewalks.
New Orleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell won over voters in far more precincts than either of her two challengers, but Jason Williams and Freddie Charbonnet together won far more voters than she did — making for a spirited contest with advantages on both sides between Hedge-Morrell and Williams heading into the March 15 runoff.
Despite the well-known rivalry between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Councilwoman Stacy Head — she was the only incumbent council member he declined to endorse for re-election — the two were re-elected by very similar margins across the city, with support from very similar precincts.
Sometime after the Iran-Iraq broke out in 1980, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying: “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.”
These words seem appropriate following the results of the Orleans Sheriff’s election day this past Saturday. Incumbent Marlin Gusman received 49% of the vote, falling just short of the amount required to avoid a runoff. The runner up with 29% of the vote, Charles Foti, is also Gusman’s predecessor. Each of these men have made their own contributions to a Sheriff’s office that is beyond dysfunctional.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu swept to re-election Saturday with 64 percent of the vote, easily outpacing his two challengers in his bid for a second term — but his support was not as evenly distributed across the city as it was four years ago, according to a map of precinct-level results.
Not only did City Councilwoman Susan Guidry win a larger percentage of the votes cast in her re-election bid than she did four years ago, she also won a larger total number of votes, an analysis of the results shows.