New Orleans City Council
   
 
In this issue

City Council Reconvenes Recessed February 19, 2009 Regular Meeting

City Council February 19, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Receives Special Presentation on Historic Supreme Court Case Plessy vs. Ferguson

Council President Clarkson Statement Re: Mayor's Public Hearing Concerning Professional Services Contracts and
Take-Home Vehicles

Councilmember Willard-Lewis Attends Demolition of East
New Orleans Regional Library

Councilmembers Head and Midura Introduce Legislation
Re: City Take-Home Cars

Supports Transparent Competitive Selection Process

City Council February 5, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Councilmember Carter Congratulates Students and Teachers of Algiers Charter Schools on their Outstanding Achievements

Councilmember-at-Large Fielkow
Statement Re: Enhanced French Quarter Sanitation Services

 

 
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NOLA Council News
February 28, 2009   Vol.2, No.4

City Council Reconvenes Recessed February 19, 2009
Regular Meeting

(February 26, 2009)

The Council reconvened its recessed February 19, 2009 regular meeting in the Council Chamber.

At the suggestion of the Ordinance's lead author Councilmember-at-Large Arnie Fielkow, reconsideration of overriding the Mayor's veto of Ordinance Calendar No. 27,069, requiring compliance with the state's Open Meetings Law relative to the executive branch's competitive selection process for professional services contracts, was not brought up, and the meeting was adjourned.

Following the meeting a discussion on race relations in the City ensued. Councilmembers, community leaders and citizens participated in the discussion, voicing their concerns and opinions on the subject.

District "D" Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell proposed a symposium on race, to take place later this year. Hedge-Morrell took the lead to schedule the event in conjunction with the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.

AmericaSpeaks, a national group involved in post-Katrina planning in the City, will organize a series of meetings aimed at bringing together African American, white, Hispanic and Asian neighborhood, religious and community leaders to discuss race relations challenges in the City.

Councilmembers and community leaders will be invited to participate in the event as well.

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council February 19, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(February 19, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council unsuccessfully tried to override the Mayor's veto of Ordinance Calendar No. 27,069, which was adopted by the Council on February 5, 2009 and sought to require that the executive branch's competitive selection process regarding professional services contracts be subject to Louisiana Open Meetings Law.

The Council also honored leadership of the Sugar Bowl and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, and addressed a Mardi Gras presentation featuring the Mardi Gras Indians.

Addressed Ordinance Regarding Transparent Competitive Selection Process

With only five Councilmembers present when the matter was addressed, the City Council was unsuccessful in its effort to override the Mayor's veto of Ordinance Calendar Number 27,069, which was originally adopted by the Council on February 5, 2009.

The veto override vote was four to override (Councilmembers Fielkow, Clarkson, Midura and Head), one recusal (Councilmember Hedge-Morrell) and two absent (Councilmembers Carter and Willard-Lewis).

The ordinance sought to mandate compliance with the state's Open Meetings Law relative to the executive branch's competitive selection process for professional services contracts. In the February 5th meeting, the Council imposed the same requirement upon itself and the limited number of professional services contracts under its jurisdiction by amending the Council's Rules to impose the same requirement it sought to impose upon the executive branch.

In a related matter, the Administration placed an official notice in the back pages of Monday's Times Picayune Sports section outlining a proposed new Executive Order to suspend panel review of professional services contracts.

Honored Sugar Bowl and Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Leadership

The Council honored Ronnie Burns, former President of the Sugar Bowl, for his dedication and service to the City of New Orleans.

Mr. Burns appeared before the Council along with Richard Smith, the current President of the Sugar Bowl. Burns expressed his sincere gratitude to the Council for their support throughout the years and discussed the Sugar Bowl's upcoming 75th Anniversary, outlined the economic benefits that the Sugar Bowl brings to the City and highlighted some of the organizations community outreach activities.

The Council also honored Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau for his recent efforts on the Executive Committee of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation (GNOSF) and for his service to the City throughout the years.

Sheriff Valteau appeared before the Council with GNOSF President Jay Cicero and GNOSF Board Chair Ron Gardner. Sheriff Valteau has served for the past three years as the Chairman of the R +L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and his leadership has been instrumental in the growth of the event in the hospitality community.

Supported Mardi Gras Indians

Family members of Big Chief Tootie Montana and representatives of the Mardi Gras Indians came before the Council to be recognized for their historical and cultural significance.

Big Chief Allison "Tootie" Montana was the oldest continuously masking Mardi Gras Indian in the City of New Orleans, masking for forty years.

The group spoke about the history and traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians and noted the importance of remembering and honoring that history. The Council issued a proclamation declaring that the first day of Carnival Season 2009 and every year thereafter be designated as "Big Chief Tootie Montana Day."

To view complete News Release click here.


Receives Special Presentation on Historic
Supreme Court Case Plessy vs. Ferguson

(February 19, 2009)

In a special presentation in the Council Chamber before the Council meeting, Professor Keith Weldon Medley, author of We As Freemen, led a program with narrative and visual presentations that explored Homer Plessy's life and the Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 Supreme Court case. The case is customarily cited as the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States.

The presentation, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Clarkson and timed to coincide with Black History Month, was attended by students from Frederick Douglass, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and McDonogh 35 schools.

Descendents of Mr. Plessy and Mr. Ferguson, Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, came together and formed the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation for Education and Outreach, with a mission to use public programs and the arts to teach the history of civil rights and the role of this particular case in American and New Orleans history.

To view complete News Release click here.


Council President Clarkson Statement Re:
Mayor's Public Hearing Concerning Professional Services Contracts and Take-Home Vehicles

(February 18, 2009)

Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson has issued the following statement regarding the City's professional services contracting process addressed at the Mayor's public hearing:

 "At a public hearing this afternoon, Mayor Nagin outlined an executive order to suspend panel review of professional services contracts. I am strongly opposed to this executive order, which will have the effect of further excluding the public from a process that is already in need of greater transparency and accountability.

On February 5, the Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would open the professional services contracting process to greater public scrutiny. The Mayor vetoed this ordinance, saying it was an attempt by the legislative branch to take power from the executive branch. In fact, this legislation is an attempt to give greater power to the people. And I fully intend to vote to override the Mayor's veto at tomorrow's Council meeting to see that a more public process is etched into City law.

The public support for greater openness in the professional services contracting process today was overwhelming. In light of this, I urge the Mayor to consider rescinding his executive order, reinstate the selection review panel, and comply with the Council's ordinance."

Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson also issued the following statement regarding city take-home vehicles addressed at the Mayor's public hearing:

"On February 5, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a motion requesting that the Mayor's Office adopt a plan to reduce the number of take-home vehicles used by city employees. This ordinance does not affect vehicles used by first responders or public safety officers. It affects only the "administrative fleet" of cars - those managed under the Mayor's Office, the Chief Administrator's Office, and the City Council.

Also during the February 5th Council meeting, a separate ordinance was introduced that would prevent city employees who live outside of Orleans Parish from possessing a take-home car. This ordinance is not expected to come up for vote before the full Council until March, after it has been thoroughly reviewed by the Governmental Affairs Committee.

Although I support considering policies that limit take-home car use for city workers domiciled outside of Orleans Parish, I believe an exemption should be given to public safety officers and first responders. I hope and expect that the Council will be able to work together in committee to arrive at legislation that is responsible, supports our first responders, and upholds our commitment to public safety."

To view Statement click here.


Councilmember Willard-Lewis Attends Demolition of
East New Orleans Regional Library

(February 13, 2009)

Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis, along with other elected officials and community members, attended the demolition of the East New Orleans Regional Library.

The library was damaged by Katrina and will be replaced by a new regional library at the existing site. The new facility will be a three-story raised building with ground floor parking. The East New Orleans Regional Library is the only New Orleans Public Library east of the Industrial Canal.

The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,324, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, to add five additional projects to the list of approved projects to permit design-build procedures to be implemented, all of them public libraries, one of which is New Orleans East Regional Library.

The design-build method expedites the City's recovery projects by streamlining the contracting process, making it possible for one company to get a combined contract for both the design and build of a project.

To view Announcement click here.


Councilmembers Head and Midura Introduce Legislation
Re: City Take-Home Cars

(February 5, 2009)

The Council passed Motion M-09-49, co-authored by Councilmembers Midura and Head, requesting that the Mayor present on or before March 13th a plan for compliance with the City Code mandating that the executive branch assign no more than 50 take-home cars to employees.

The Motion also states that the plan must: designate which of the current take-home vehicles should be considered the 50 take-home vehicles permitted by the City Code, provide protocol for the disposition of the vehicles in excess of the quota, and establish an official policy to determine which posts within City government will be permitted the use of take-home vehicles.

In a January 30, 2009 response to the Inspector General's vehicle report, the administration cited ordinance "contradict[ion]" as a reason for failing to comply with the City ordinances prohibiting more than the administration's 50 take-home cars (excluding police and fire vehicles).

In an effort to clear any road-blocks to the administration's compliance with City ordinances related to legally-allowed take-home cars, Councilmembers Midura and Head also introduced Ordinance Calendar No. 27,254 to reconcile the conflicting ordinances related to the domicile of City employees and take-home vehicles.

The Fourth Quarter 2008 Take-Home Vehicle Report furnished to the City Council on January 30, 2009 by the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer of the Equipment Maintenance Division supports the findings of the Inspector General in the Interim Report on the Management of the Administrative Vehicle Fleet that the executive branch total of vehicles far exceeds the permitted quota by ordinance.

To view complete News Release on this legislation click here.

To view complete February 5, 2009 Council Meeting News Release click here.

 


Supports Transparent Competitive Selection Process
(February 5, 2009)

 

 

 

 


The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,069 and Motion M-08-380, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, requiring that both the Executive and Legislative branches of City Government, in their professional service contracting processes, comply with the Louisiana Open Meetings Law.

The Louisiana Attorney General rendered an advisory opinion that meetings involving the awarding of professional services contracts are subject to the Louisiana Open Meetings Law. See the Attorney General's advisory opinion in full here.

Mayor Nagin's Administration requested a reconsideration by the Attorney General of his advisory opinion and the Attorney General reaffirmed its original opinion. See the Attorney General's reaffirmed opinion in full here.

Interim Inspector General Leonard Odom, along with representatives from the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), the New Orleans Business Council, the Ethics Review Board, the Public Law Center, and other good government and citizen groups came before the Council to give their opinions and recommendations on the matter.

To view News Release on this legislation click here.

To view complete February 5, 2009 Council Meeting News Release click here.


City Council February 5, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(February 5, 2009)


The New Orleans City Council voted to override the Mayor's veto of an Ordinance pertaining to the 2009 Budget funding allocation for the Youth Study Center.

Additionally, the Council passed legislation urging the extension of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, requesting a report on the cost and feasibility of the implementation of wireless internet services in the Council Chamber, and expediting the construction of five libraries throughout the City.

Supports Funding for the Youth Study Center

The Council voted to override the Mayor's veto of Ordinance Calendar No. 27,303, authored by Councilmember Midura, requiring that prior to expenditure of the 2009 Budget funds appropriated for the Youth Study Center, Capital Projects and Human Services present the conceptual design submission of the Youth Study Center to the Criminal Justice Committee for approval prior to entering into the construction document phase of the project.

Director of Capital Projects Bill Chrisman came before the Council to reaffirm his support of the Ordinance and the incorporation of best practices into the Youth Study Center, and to emphasize the need for additional funding to properly rebuild the facility.

Urged Extension of Recovery Housing Program

The Council passed Resolution R-09-50, co-authored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Midura, urging the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and FEMA take immediate action to extend for one year the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP).

The program, administered by HUD and FEMA, assists Louisiana residents still in need after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The rental assistance provided under DHAP has been instrumental in allowing Louisiana families to remain in their local communities while the state and federal governments work to stabilize the affordable housing market.

Explored Implementation of Wireless Internet in Council Chamber

The Council passed Resolution R-09-51, coauthored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Midura, to assess the feasibility of implementation of wireless internet services in the Council Chamber.

The Resolution requests that the Director of the Council Utilities Regulatory Office investigate the cost and any related issues regarding implementation of wireless internet in the Chamber and report back to the Council's Cable & Telecommunications Committee within 45 days with a report on these items.

Expedited the Construction of Five Libraries

The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,324, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, to add five additional projects to the list of approved projects to permit design-build procedures to be implemented, all of them public libraries.

The City of New Orleans previously passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,059 authorizing 21 projects to be developed through design-build procedures.

The five libraries are Algiers Regional Library, Nora Navra Library, Norman Mayer Library, Robert E. Smith Library and New Orleans East Regional Library.

Director of Capital Projects Bill Chrisman came before the Council to give an explanation of the design-build method which expedites the City's recovery projects by streamlining the contracting process, making it possible for one company to get a combined contract for both the design and build of a project.

Supported New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes

As the three Special Orders of Business, the Council welcomed three Mardi Gras Krewes to the chamber.

 

 

 



Krewe of Zulu members, along with the King and Queen of Zulu, thanked the Council for their support and announced a newly opened exhibit in the Lakeside Shopping Mall which displays Zulu kings and Krewe members dating back to the early days of the organization in recognition of the Krewe's centennial year. Zulu members also gave details on the Coronation Ball and recognized the Krewe of Muses for their assistance and support of Zulu after Hurricane Katrina.



Members of the Krewe of Muses appeared before the Council to speak about this year's parade theme and the Krewe's annual Honorary Muse. Councilmembers recognized the Krewe for its creativity and its inclusive membership open to all women over eighteen years old. The Muses representatives thanked the Council for their ongoing support of the Krewe.



The Krewe of Choctaw was represented in the Chamber by several Krewe members who spoke about the Krewe's beginnings in Algiers and its upcoming 75th Anniversary. Krewe members highlighted the Krewe's upcoming river parade this Saturday, February 7th, which brings both East Bank and West Bank revelers together to enjoy Carnival festivities.

To view complete News Release click here.


Councilmember Carter Congratulates Students and Teachers of Algiers Charter Schools on their Outstanding Achievements
(February 2, 2009)

Councilmember James Carter celebrated the outstanding achievement gains made by the students of the Algiers Charter Schools and congratulated the teachers on their performance awards.

At a media event located at Fischer Charter School, teachers and administrators were presented with awards honoring their professional growth and accomplishment.

Six of the Algiers Charter Schools achieved significant academic growth in the past year - Martin Behrman, Alice M. Harte, William J. Fischer, Edna Karr, O.P. Walker and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Algiers Charter Schools have embraced the Teacher Advancement Program, which places the professional improvement of teachers and administrators at the center of school improvement efforts.

To view complete News Release click here.


Councilmember-at-Large Fielkow Statement
Re: Enhanced French Quarter Sanitation Services

(February 2, 2009)

 The following is a statement issued by New Orleans City Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow regarding the 2009 budget issue:

"It is truly regrettable that the question of providing enhanced sanitation services to the French Quarter is still being debated. The City Council has expressed for several months the absolute need for this service to be maintained for the benefit of both our local citizens and tourists. This was provided for in the budget passed by the City Council on December 1, 2008, confirmed in the Council's override of the Mayor's veto two weeks later and reconfirmed in the final budget passed by the Council on January 12, 2009. Following this January 12th Council vote, the Mayor publicly supported the final budget passed by the Council.

The public should understand that the funds needed to provide these enhanced services, based upon the Mayor's position the past several days, represents less than one half (1/2) of one (1) percent of the city's general fund budget. I call upon the Mayor to do what is necessary contractually to immediately put in place, and fund, these necessary enhanced sanitation services.

There has been much discussion over the past several days about identifying an alternate revenue source to pay for these enhanced sanitation services. I believe that the fiscally sound budget passed by this City Council on January 12th, which provided for the enhanced sanitation services, should be honored and respected by the Mayor. Alternatively, and in the spirit of avoiding a protracted legal fight which is not in the best interests of our citizens, I would be supportive of either additional cuts from other discretionary budgeted areas or usage of revenue from the pre-Katrina Economic Development Fund (EDF).

It is time today that we conclude the debate on the enhanced sanitation services and I am prepared to cast my support as stated above."

To view Statement click here.



 
 
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