New Orleans City Council
   
 
In this issue

City Council April 23, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Repeals Gas Surcharge for Taxicabs and DFTs

Council Vice President Fielkow and Councilmember
Willard-Lewis Hold Meetings in Washington, D.C. and New York On Six Flags and Recovery Projects

Councilmember Head Holds
"Hen and Ham Easter Giveaway Celebration" for Senior Citizens
In District "B"

Planning Begins for the
New Orleans Dialogue on Race Recommended by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell

Approves Entergy Rate Case Settlement

Supports Gun Buy Back Program

Addresses Army Corp of Engineers Decision on Outfall Canals

Urges State to Reconsider Rejection of Federal Health Care Stimulus Dollars

City Council April 2, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

 

 
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NOLA Council News
April 30, 2009   Vol.2, No.6

City Council April 23, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(April 23, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions supporting the Louisiana film industry and requesting an opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General regarding the legality of Senate Bill 75 - which may be in conflict with the City Charter, the Louisiana Constitution, and/or other applicable law.

Additionally, the Council passed Ordinances supporting reforms to the rules governing the renewal process and fees for Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience.

The Council also heard a presentation from State Senator JP Morrell who presented a check to New Orleans Recreation Department and honored the graduating classes of 2009 from several local universities.

The Council held an Executive Session to discuss recent developments in pending litigation concerning the review and release of the City Council's email correspondence over a three-year period.

Held Executive Session
 
The City Council held an Executive Session to discuss recent developments in pending litigation concerning the review and release of the City Council's email correspondence over a three-year period. Due to the confidentiality of the issues, they were taken up in a duly noticed Executive Session closed to the public.

Special Counsel for the City Council, Steven J. Lane of Herman, Herman, Katz and Cotlar addressed the Council about the current status of the pending litigation and to discuss that the Council has been recently put in possession of its email correspondence. Lane informed Councilmembers that legal counsel, with assistance from a technology expert, is preparing the emails into a readable format and determining which documents are subject to the Public Records Law. As soon as the review is complete, the documents will be made available for public release.

Requested Attorney General's Opinion on Proposed State Law
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-177, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, requesting an opinion from the Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, regarding the legality of Senate Bill 75, which may be in conflict with the City Charter, the Louisiana Constitution and/or other applicable law.

District 4 Senator Edwin Murray has filed Senate Bill 75 for the regular 2009 session of the Louisiana legislature, a bill that would require that "any master plan which has the force of law in Orleans parish shall require voter approval prior to implementation of any provisions, policies or strategies contained in the adopted master plan."
 
The recently voter-approved Master Plan force of law Charter Amendment clearly outlines a multi-step process by which the Master Plan shall acquire the force of law, including that the Council must receive the Master Plan and either adopt it, reject it, or propose modifications.
 
The Resolution requests that the Attorney General address whether or not the provisions set forth in Senate Bill 75 improperly usurp the City of New Orleans Home Rule authority and/or whether Senate Bill 75 is violative of the of the City's Home Rule Charter, the Louisiana Constitution, and/or other applicable law.

Supported Louisiana Film Industry
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-182, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, supporting state legislative efforts to remove the scheduled film incentive tax credit (Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit) reduction slated for early 2010, and stabilizing the existing tax credit at thirty percent.
 
Under current legislation, the twenty-five percent film incentive tax credit is scheduled to be reduced to twenty percent in early 2010, which would be devastating to the Louisiana film industry and result in a tremendous loss of direct economic impact and industry related jobs.
 
Councilmember Fielkow worked with Jennifer Day, Director of the New Orleans Office of Film & Video, to craft this Resolution.

Addressed Reforms to Renewal Rules and Fees for Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience
 
The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,384 and No. 27,385 supporting reforms to the rules governing the renewal process and fees for Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience (CPNC).
 
Taxicab Bureau Deputy Director Sidney Bournes and representative Michael Lentz were present to answer questions from Councilmembers and community members.
 
Ordinance Calendar No. 27,384 designates an "Extended Renewal Period and Fee" to extend the renewal period until December 31, 2009 for any Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience that expired between December 31, 2005 and December 31, 2008.
 
This Ordinance aims to give those taxicab drivers who were forced to live outside of the City after Hurricane Katrina additional time to renew their CPNCs.
 
Ordinance Calendar No. 27,385 adds a "Delinquency Penalty", a "Revocation of Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience", and an "Extension for Acquiring a Vehicle and Fee" to the CPNC rules.
 
CPNCs expire on December 31 of each year and must be renewed within the month following expiration (January). The "Delinquency Penalty" provision establishes a $150 late fee for each delinquent month for CPNCs renewed after January.
 
The "Revocation of Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience" provision states that any CPNC not renewed by March 31 is suspended.

The "Extension for Acquiring a Vehicle and Fee" provision establishes that compliance with the requirement that a CPNC holder must have a vehicle in service may be extended for good cause for a period of time by the Director of the Department of Safety and Permits.

Presentation of Check to NORD
 
State Senator JP Morrell appeared before the Council to present New Orleans Recreation Department Director Larry Barabino, Jr. with a $50,000 check from the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission.
 
Each year, the Commission generates a surplus which is divided among all of Louisiana's parishes. Until 1995, New Orleans did not receive any of those funds. In 1995, Act 1227 was passed, which established that a recurring amount of $50,000 of the surplus would be given to the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) until the year 2017.
 
The $50,000 check presented by Senator Morrell represents the surplus fund allocations from 2008 and 2009.
 
Last year, the state legislature passed a bill allowing for half of the surplus funds ($25,000) given to NORD each year to be given to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) for equipment including bulletproof vests.
 
Honored Local University Graduating Classes of 2009

The Council honored in a proclamation presentation the graduating classes of 2009 from seven local universities: Tulane, Dillard, Xavier, UNO, SUNO, Our Lady of Holy Cross, and Loyola.
 
University presidents, administration officials and student government representatives were present to introduce themselves and address the Council on behalf of their schools.
 
These students' freshmen orientations were interrupted by the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina; yet they chose to return to the City following the storm to continue their studies and help in the rebuilding efforts.

To view complete News Release click here.

Repeals Gas Surcharge for Taxicabs and Disabled Friendly Taxis
(April 23, 2009)

The Council unanimously passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,435, authored by Councilmember Willard-Lewis, to repeal the $2.00 gasoline surcharge per each completed trip for taxicabs and Disabled Friendly Taxis (DFT).
 
The surcharge was originally imposed by Ordinance No. 23,148 M.C.S., adopted in response to the economic hardships that many cab drivers experienced as a result of high gasoline prices in 2008.
 
District "E" Councilmember Willard-Lewis said, "Now that gasoline prices have decreased to a more reasonable price, we feel it is appropriate to repeal the $2.00 surcharge. We understand the importance of assisting our citizens in hard times and we will continue to do so."

To view complete News Release click here.


Council Vice President Fielkow and Councilmember Willard-Lewis Hold Meetings in Washington, D.C. and New York
On Six Flags and Recovery Projects

(April 22, 2009)

City Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow held meetings with Obama Administration officials, members of Congress and top Six Flags executives in Washington, D.C. and New York. Fielkow was joined in New York for meetings with Six Flags officials by District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, and City Attorney Penya-Moses Fields.
 
The redevelopment of the Six Flags theme park property in New Orleans East, formerly known as Jazzland, was the primary point of discussion with both Six Flags officials and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the City attempts to gain site control of the property so that a catalytic redevelopment can occur in this important part of New Orleans. Other critical recovery issues, such as expediting the FEMA reimbursement process for public facilities and the redevelopment of the Big Four public housing developments, were also addressed.
 
In Washington, DC Fielkow met with newly-appointed Gulf Coast Recovery Coordinator Janet Woodka, officials in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Joseph Cao.
 
District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis, along with other city officials, including Councilmember Fielkow, Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Penya Moses-Fields, met with Six Flags officials in New York. 

The meeting in New York involved Six Flags President Mark Shapiro, and centered around Six Flags' legal and financial obligations to the City of New Orleans and the need for New Orleans to swiftly redevelop the New Orleans East site. Following a nearly 90 minute meeting with Six Flags, it is the City's position that it will immediately review and pursue all appropriate legal actions available to it against Six Flags so as to protect the City's legal position. It is anticipated that a lawsuit against Six Flags will be filed in the near future.

To view complete News Release click here.


Councilmember Head Holds
"Hen and Ham Easter Giveaway Celebration"
For Senior Citizens in District "B"

(April 9, 2009)

Councilmember Stacy Head held a successful "Hen and Ham Celebration Giveaway" on April 8th at the Central City Senior Center and on April 9th at the Mercy Endeavor Senior Center and Milan-Broadmoor Senior Center. 
 
Approximately 300 seniors from Broadmoor, the Irish Channel and Central City received a hen or a ham to add to their Easter weekend festivities. 
 
District "B" Councilmember Head said, "Celebrating this Easter season with seniors in District B is one of the most satisfying aspects of my role as a City Councilmember. These Senior Centers continue to do an excellent job providing an environment where seniors can experience enrichment, civic and health activities."
 
Councilmember Head and staff were present to hand out the hens or hams to seniors at the three centers. The Easter gifts are a reflection of the need to support "Seasoned Citizens" who continue to make a positive contribution to the City of New Orleans.

To view complete News Release click here.


Planning Begins for the New Orleans Dialogue on Race Recommended by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell
(April 6, 2009)

Representatives from AmericaSpeaks, the Washington D.C. based non-partisan citizen advocacy organization, were in New Orleans to conduct the first phase of interviews for the New Orleans Dialogue on Race, which Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell recommended in February 2009, as an important educational effort to help create new solutions to address New Orleans' racial tension. Hedge-Morrell chairs the City Council's Education Committee.
 
AmericaSpeaks, in conjunction with local consultant Barbara Major, will conduct a series of interviews with key leaders and stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding regarding current dynamics, possibilities and impediments. The interviews will be followed by the building of a steering committee which will be a key force in reaching out to constituencies and networks to promote dialogue and understanding.
 
In late spring or early summer, a much larger group of leaders will come together for one or more dialogues, followed by broad-based community meetings and ideally a large town meeting.
 
"The end result is not dialogue for dialogue's sake - but a robust, sustainable action agenda, embraced by leaders and citizens alike, and in which all involved feel empowered to bridge our divides and move toward creating a great and inclusive city that New Orleans has the potential to become," said Hedge-Morrell.

"We will open up this initiative to all our city's citizens, churches, neighborhood, business and community organizations," Hedge-Morrell explained. "We want to involve everyone who would like to be a part of the solutions to this problem."

To view complete News Release click here.


Approves Entergy Rate Case Settlement
(April 2, 2009)

The Council passed Resolution R-09-136, approving a legal settlement between the City Council and Entergy New Orleans, Inc.
 
The legal settlement will decrease Entergy utility rates by $30 million for Entergy New Orleans ratepayers and includes an agreement by Entergy New Orleans, Inc. to fund Energy Smart, a citywide energy efficiency financing program.
 
The Council also passed Resolution R-09-137, ratifying a gas hedging plan to manage power costs during peak usage periods, as part of the Entergy New Orleans, Inc. rate case settlement.
 
Utility Committee Chair Councilmember Shelley Midura said, "This settlement will benefit our citizens and our City - decreasing utility costs and promoting a responsible energy plan. Energy Smart is a proactive approach to energy efficiency in our City and funding is critical to ensure that our City sees the benefits of this program in the near future."

To view complete News Release click here.


Supports Gun Buy Back Program
(April 2, 2009)

Members of the Greater New Orleans Gun Buy Back Committee, along with New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Chief Warren Riley, appeared before the Council to discuss the details of this year's Gun Buy Back program.
 
This year's program, held on Saturday, April 4th at Little Zion Baptist Church Multi-Purpose Center, featured presentations on gun safety, training and awareness, and a benefit concert held at First Pilgrim Baptist Church located at 1234 Arts Street at 7 p.m. on Friday April 3rd.
 
The program is dedicated to decreasing the number of guns on the street and provides $50 for each gun and $200 for each assault weapon turned in, no questions asked.
 
Criminal Justice Committee Chair Councilmember James Carter said, "The Gun Buy Back program works to decrease violent crime in New Orleans by reducing the number of guns on our streets and providing training and information on gun safety. This program is an excellent collaborative effort among community members, businesses, crime fighting initiatives and the New Orleans Police Department, and we are grateful for all of their hard work and dedication to making our City a safer place."
 
The Gun Buy Back program has helped to remove more than 1,000 guns from the streets over the last six years.

To view complete News Release click here.


Addresses Army Corps of Engineers Decision on Outfall Canals
(April 2, 2009)


The Council passed Resolution R-09-147, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, calling upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit its plans and cost estimates for the redesign of New Orleans' outfall canals to independent, third-party review.
 
The resolution also supports a congressional field hearing in New Orleans by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to further investigate the Corps' proposed redesign.
 
Present at a Council meeting to further explain the issue were: Robert Jackson, spokesman for the Sewerage and Water Board; Tom Capella, Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large; David Waggoner, architect with Waggoner and Ball, a firm involved with post-Katrina city planning; and Lisa Ludwig, Executive Director of Pump to the River.
 
In redesigning the London Ave., Orleans Ave., and 17th St. canals, the Corps favors "Option 1" - which would retain existing deficient canal walls, build new pumping stations at the mouth of each canal, and rely on Sewerage and Water Board pumping stations to handle routine drainage. The Corps estimates this plan will cost $800 million.
 
A proposed "Option 2," which the Corps has rejected as too costly, would involve the deepening and repaving of canal walls and the construction of new all-purpose pumping stations at each of these canals to handle both rising and falling water. The Corps estimates this plan will cost $3.4 billion.
 
Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "I am concerned that Option 1 will provide insufficient protection if we have major rainfall accompanied by a significant rise in water levels within the canals, which we all know is common during major storms."

To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

To view complete News Release click here.


Urges State to Reconsider Rejection of
Federal Health Care Stimulus Dollars
(April 2, 2009)

The Council passed Resolution R-09-155, introduced by Councilmember Fielkow, urging Governor Jindal and Louisiana Secretary of Health and Hospitals Alan Levine to reconsider their plan to reject millions of dollars in federal stimulus package funds designed to provide health benefits to Louisiana's poor, underinsured and uninsured.

The Resolution also calls for the State to hold public meetings on this issue in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, enabling State policy makers to hear first-hand the impact that such actions will have on health care in Orleans Parish and the rest of the State.
 
Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow said, "In New Orleans alone, we still have no hospital in the East, the potential new LSU/VA complex is years from completion and we are struggling with a hurting population that has limited access to affordable health care. While I understand the budget challenges faced by the State, the rejection of helpful federal dollars to support this struggling health care system is not a path we should follow."
 
To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council April 2, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(April 2, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions calling for expedited funding of the Orleans Public Defenders Office, and urging Governor Jindal to reconsider the plan to close in-patient services at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital.
 
The Council also celebrated Navy Day and recognized the Vietnamese Military Academy in Louisiana for their service to the City.

Celebrated Navy Day
 
US Navy Captain Brian Harrison came before the Council to be honored as a part of the Navy Day celebration. Captain Harrison is the last Commander of the Naval Support Station here in New Orleans.
 
Also present in the Chamber to be honored were numerous Navy personnel, along with the Navy band, and General David Mize (USMC Ret) was present to show his support for Captain Harrison and his work.
 
Councilmembers expressed their gratitude to Captain Harrison and all Naval personnel present for their dedication and commitment to the City.
 
Commander Quan H. Huynh of the Vietnamese Military Academy in Louisiana and academy members also came before the Council to receive a proclamation honoring them for their service and dedication to New Orleans.

Called for Expedited Funding of Orleans Public Defenders

The Council passed Resolution R-09-149, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, calling upon the Mayor's Office to expend the funds as allocated by the City Council to the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office expeditiously.
 
The Council budgeted $600,000 of the City's Operating Budget to the Orleans Parish Public Defenders - the Public Defenders Office has yet to receive these funds.
 
Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "Fully funding the Public Defender's Office is about ensuring the entire criminal justice system is able to function effectively. We cannot prosecute crimes without a functioning defense office. It's that simple."

 

Addressed Governor's Plan to Close New Orleans Adolescent Hospital
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-153, introduced by Councilmember Fielkow, urging Governor Bobby Jindal to reconsider the plan to close in-patient services at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) and relocate them outside of Orleans Parish.
 
The Resolution also requests that any plan going forward with respect to the closure of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital be made in consultation with the affected populations of the plan, and that public meetings be held in New Orleans regarding the State plan, thus enabling State policy makers to hear first-hand the impact that such actions will have on mental health services in Orleans Parish.
 
New Orleans Adolescent Hospital is the only public sector facility in New Orleans to provide comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services for children and adolescents.

To view complete News Release click here.






 
 
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