New Orleans City Council
   
 
In this issue

Youth & Recreation Committee Convenes Again in Effort to Expedite Opening of NORD Playgrounds

Council President Clarkson Lobbies Louisiana's Federal Delegation for Regional Planning Projects and Recovery Needs

New Orleans Chosen as Site for 2012 Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association Annual Conference

Councilmembers Attend Seminar On the Role of Elected Officials In Disaster Response

Supports Down Zoning in
Gert Town

Addresses CeaseFire Program Presentation

City Council March 19, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Councilmember Hedge-Morrell Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Dollar General Store in
District "D"

City Council Releases
Annual Report Outlining
2009 Policy Priorities and Detailing 2008 Legislative Action

Civil District Court Judge
Orders Council Emails Be
Turned Over to Court

Councilmember Midura Serves as Panelist at Tulane University Campus-Community Forum

Councilmembers Hedge-Morrell and Willard-Lewis Participate in Ninth Ward News Conference Announcing Millions of Dollars in Grants to Aid in Louisiana's Recovery

City Council March 5, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

 

 
2009 Newsletters

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2008 Newsletters
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NOLA Council News
March 31, 2009   Vol.2, No.5

Youth & Recreation Committee Convenes Again
In Effort to Expedite Opening of NORD Playgrounds

(March 27, 2009)

Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow, Chair of the Council's Youth & Recreation Committee, announced that he will hold a follow-up hearing to continue addressing FEMA reimbursements for NORD playgrounds and facilities. The special Youth & Recreation Committee hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 7th at 1:00 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.

Council Vice President Fielkow called for a follow-up meeting on this topic due to the absence of key participants in the original hearing on Wednesday, March 25th. The attendance of FEMA officials, in addition to representatives from the relevant city and state departments, has been requested.

Councilmember Fielkow said, "The ultimate goal is to open all NORD playgrounds and facilities as quickly as possible. All meeting participants, from FEMA to the state to the city, should be prepared to answer specific questions about why the rebuild/repair of recreational facilities is not being fully funded, whether any funds are being held up, what supplemental funding sources might be used on top of FEMA funds to expedite the openings, and what we can do now to quicken the rebuild/repair of our recreational facilities."
 
Officials from FEMA, ORDA, the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans have been requested to attend and speak on behalf of their respective agencies.

To view complete News Release click here.


Council President Clarkson Lobbies Louisiana's
Federal Delegation for Regional Planning Projects and
Recovery Needs

(March 24, 2009)

Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson traveled to Washington, D.C. with parish leaders from across Southeast Louisiana to lobby Louisiana's federal delegation for vital infrastructure and recovery needs.

She and a delegation including Mayor Nagin and parish presidents from Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. Charles, and St. John parishes met with Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, as well as Congressmen Charlie Melancon, Rodney Alexander, and Joseph Cao.

Councilmember Clarkson said, "Taking a regional approach to public works and recovery projects allows us to focus on infrastructure that runs across parish lines and affects all of Southeast Louisiana. This has major bearing on many projects, including, significantly, our evacuation routes."

The Council President advocated for several public works projects that are of particular importance to New Orleans, including:

- $1 million to aid in the rehabilitation of Tulane Ave. from South Carrollton Ave. to South Rampart St.
- $6.5 million to aid in the rehabilitation of St. Charles Avenue from US 90B to Nashville Avenue
- $10 million for the reconstruction of Fleur de Lis Boulevard from 26th Street to Old Hammond Hwy.
- $2.5 million for the rehabilitation of South Carrollton Avenue from St. Charles Avenue to South Claiborne Avenue
- $3.5 million for the rehabilitation of Congress Drive from Hayne Boulevard to US90
- $4 million for the rehabilitation of Michoud Boulevard from I-10 to Lake Forest Boulevard
- $3.4 million for the rehabilitation of Rampart Street from Common Street to Elysian Fields Avenue
- $7 million for the rehabilitation of Broadway Avenue from St. Charles Avenue to South Claiborne Avenue

To view complete News Release click here.


New Orleans Chosen as Site for 2012 Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association Annual Conference
(March 23, 2009)

At the 49th annual Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association (LMCA) spring conference this month, the association chose the City of New Orleans to host its annual spring conference in 2012. 
 
Clerk of Council Peggy Lewis attended the annual professional development program on March 5-7 in Alexandria, Louisiana, along with some 75 municipal clerks from around the state.
 
As part of the conference, LMCA members elected their 2009-2010 officers, including New Orleans City Council Clerk Peggy Lewis, who was elected as LMCA public relations officer.

The program featured workshop sessions dealing with state laws and legislation affecting municipal governments, services offered to towns and cities by the Louisiana Municipal Association, services for communities provided through the Louisiana Office of Public Health and state laws governing open meetings and executive sessions.

To view complete News Release click here.


Councilmembers Attend Seminar on the Role of
Elected Officials in Disaster Response
(March 20, 2009)

All seven Councilmembers attended a seminar at the University of New Orleans' Lakefront Campus that examined the role of elected officials in disaster response.
 
Elected officials and representatives from surrounding parishes were also present at the seminar, which gave attendees the opportunity to share perspectives on the appropriate role of elected officials in supporting emergency management professionals in disaster preparedness, response and mitigation.
 

Texas A&M Extension Service presented the seminar, which was facilitated by Glen Gilmore, former Mayor of Hamilton, New Jersey.
 
Seminar topics included a discussion of:
 
- Roles and responsibilities and preparedness challenges
- Domestic preparedness resources and how to leverage them 
- Homeland Security Strategic Planning risk and needs assessment
- Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)
- Executive-level incident response and recovery considerations
- Incident management (ICS), mutual aid agreements, media   
  relations, recovery and restoration processes, Federal assistance,
  and business/economic recovery

To view complete News Release click here.


Supports Down Zoning in Gert Town
(March 19, 2009)

The Council passed Motion M-09-124, authored by Councilmember Stacy Head, directing the City Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing to consider an amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance aimed at down zoning the industrial areas in the residential parts of Gert Town. 
 
This Motion will prohibit any new industrial uses from establishing in the neighborhood, bounded by S. Carrollton Avenue, Walmsley Ave., S. Jefferson Davis, and the Pontchartrain Expressway.
 
Councilmember Head said, "Currently, Gert Town is experiencing industrial uses in their community which inhibit neighborhood development and growth. It is important that we respond to the needs of the City's individual communities and neighborhoods - public hearings will give the residents of Gert Town the opportunity to participate in discussions relative to industrial uses in their neighborhood and potential improvements in their quality of life."

To view complete News Release click here.


Addresses CeaseFire Program Presentation
(March 19, 2009)

Gary Slutkin, M.D., Founding Director of the CeaseFire program, came before the Council to give background information on the program and detailed its efforts to reduce crime.
 
CeaseFire is an evidence-based public health approach to reducing violence. The program's methods use highly trained street violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education campaigns, and community mobilization.
 
Councilmember James Carter said, "As Criminal Justice Committee Chair, I am dedicated to exploring methods, tactics and strategies of reducing violence in communities. The CeaseFire program focuses on implementing a structured approach and encouraging coordination between the community and law enforcement officials to reduce violence. CeaseFire is an innovative program with proven results and we look forward to continuing our discussions on the potential benefits of implementing the CeaseFire program here in New Orleans."

To view complete News Release click here.


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

The New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions supporting the restoration of Louisiana's coastline and the expedited allocation of Housing and Urban Development grant money. The Council also addressed presentations on the Total Sentencing Alternative Program and a crime update from NOPD Police Chief Warren Riley.

Supported Louisiana Coastal Restoration

The Council passed Resolution R-09-101, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, supporting efforts to investigate the benefits of large-scale land diversions as a means of restoring Louisiana's coastline. 

Large-scale diversions would redirect the Mississippi River to flow through parts of South Louisiana, carrying sediment and fresh water with it - both of which sustain and rebuild wetlands. Such diversions are widely seen by experts across the country as key to restoring Louisiana's coastline.
 
Earlier in the month, Council President Clarkson represented the City of New Orleans at the Mississippi River Fresh Water Diversion Summit in New Orleans, where she publicly urged the Corps of Engineers to consider using large scale diversions to restore Louisiana's coastline. She also urged the Corps not to proceed without including the interests of Louisiana's navigation industry.

To view complete News Release on this legislation click here.

Supported Allocation of Housing and Urban Development Grant Funds
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-126, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, calling on the Mayor's Office to expedite the allocation of the $11 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant money.
 
HUD has issued three extensions of the deadline to commit the money to New Orleans. The City of New Orleans is in danger of losing the funds if it does not allocate this funding to specific affordable housing initiatives.

Senator Mary Landrieu has offered her support in finding areas of affordable housing to which this funding can be dedicated.

Addressed Total Sentencing Alternative Program

Dwight Richards came before the Council to give a presentation on the Total Sentencing Alternative Program (TSAP) Ankle Bracelets.
 
Richards, Vice President of Operations for TSAP, discussed the benefits of TSAP Ankle Bracelets and the purpose of the program, along with ideas for potential program improvements.
 
The TSAP ankle bracelets are recommended for offenders of non-violent crimes and have been proven to be effective when appropriate parameters are set for each individual offender.
 
New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Sneed, Director of Homeland Security for the City of New Orleans were also present and expressed their opinions and recommendations relative to the TSAP program.
 
Richards, Cannizzaro, Sneed and Councilmembers discussed at length the potential benefits of using the TSAP ankle bracelets in combination with drug testing, job counseling, and mentoring programs.

Received City-Wide Crime Update
 
New Orleans Police Chief Superintendent Warren Riley came before the Council to provide a city-wide update on crime and comment on the TSAP program.
 
Riley expressed his gratitude to TSAP for their cooperation in coordinating efforts to create a more productive program with enhanced monitoring and quicker response times.
 
Riley informed the Council that the overall crime rate is down, and that specifically crime rates are down in double digits in every crime category so far this year, with the exception of automobile burglaries.


Held Executive Session, Authorized Action to Expedite Responses to Pending Public Records Requests
 
The Council held an Executive Session to address pending litigation and the possible creation of an independent Management Information Services system for the Council. Due to the confidentiality of both issues, they were taken up in Executive Session closed to the public.

Pending Litigation

Special Counsel informed the City Council as to the current status of the pending litigation Case #09-2279, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, City Council versus Tracie Washington and the Louisiana Justice Institute, including Judge Medley's order that defendants provide the court with the names of the individuals to whom defendants sent emails that might contain privileged information.
 
Independent Management Information Services System

Councilmembers consulted with Barb Frederiksen, Senior Managing Consultant of Johnson Laird, Inc. about the development of a program that would better enable the City Council to access its emails and to respond more quickly to public records requests.

Related to the Executive Session and immediately following, Attorney Steve Lane of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, Special Counsel for the City Council, stated that the Council has authorized action to expedite responses to current pending public records requests, further enhancing accountability to the public.

Rather than wait for the Mayor's Office of Technology to locate documents, Councilmembers have taken it upon themselves to review their emails. The Council will determine what can be made available as soon as possible for public review. Councilmembers will consult with nationally renowned technology expert Barb Frederiksen for advice and assistance.

To view complete News Release on the Executive Session click here.

To view complete March 19, 2009 Council Meeting News Release click here.


Councilmember Hedge-Morrell Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Dollar General Store in District "D"
(March 17, 2009)


Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 14th celebrating the Grand Re-Opening of a Dollar General Store in District "D" that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
 
The celebration took place at the store located in the Oak Park Shopping Center at 4774 Paris Avenue - the company's highest volume store prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow also attended the event, along with Dollar General executives and employees, property owner Joe Veninata and community members.

District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "This is an encouraging sign of economic development and recovery in District D. This store is conveniently located and will meet a great need within the community for affordable products."

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council Releases Annual Report Outlining
2009 Policy Priorities and Detailing 2008 Legislative Action
(March 17, 2009)


The Council released the New Orleans City Council Annual Report: 2009 Policy Priorities and 2008 Legislative Action
 
The report outlines the Council's priorities for the coming year, and highlights its legislative work in 2008 - moving out of the Council Chamber into the community.
 
A preview of the report was available via an insert in the Wednesday, March 18th Orleans Parish edition of the Times Picayune.
 
The report is available online on the City Council's website here
 
Copies of the report are available at the following locations:
 
- Clerk of Council's Office, Room 1E09, City Hall
  (Click here for map)
 
- Front desk of all New Orleans Public Library branches throughout the City

To view complete News Release click here.


Civil District Court Judge Orders
Council Emails Be Turned Over to Court

(March 12, 2009)

 Orleans Civil District Court Judge Lloyd Medley, ordered local lawyer Tracie Washington to hand over, within 24 hours, compact discs containing City Councilmember emails requested via public records requests.

Washington filed a public records request for these documents, but instead of working through the City Attorney's Office, which normally reviews public records requests, Washington obtained these records from Sanitation Department Director Veronica White.

The release of the emails was done without the Council's knowledge or consent and without prior review of the content for information of a privileged and confidential nature. The City Council's legal counsel argued that the release of these Council emails may constitute a serious breach of legal rights and protections afforded the City Council, its constituents and the City of New Orleans. 

Judge Medley's ruling orders that Ms. Washington turn over to the court all email and other correspondence that she has received, and that she fully disclose to Judge Medley the identities of those individuals with whom she shared the email correspondence. The Judge's order also continues the prohibition of Ms. Washington's public release of the emails.

Judge Medley will begin review of all correspondence to determine what content is privileged and what content can be released to the public. Following the Judge's review, he will meet with lawyers and share his findings.

To view complete March 12, 2009 News Release click here.

To view March 4, 2009 News Release on Civil District Court Judge Prohibits Release of Council Emails click here.

To view March 3, 2009 News Release on Initial Council Investigation of the Release of Council Emails click here.


Councilmember Midura Serves as Panelist at
Tulane University Campus-Community Forum

(March 9, 2009)

 District “A” Councilmember Shelley Midura served as a forum panelist at the Tulane University Campus-Community Forum focused on discussing concerns and incidents in the university community.

The forum, moderated by Rob Nelson of WWL-TV, featured panelists including Murphy Painter, Commissioner of the Alcohol Control Board; Maj. Bruce Little, Commander of the 2nd District for the New Orleans Police Department; David Melius, owner of Bruno’s Tavern; and Kristy Miller, Associate Director of the Louisiana Center Addressing Substance Use in Collegiate Communities.

Forum panelists discussed ways to reduce alcohol-related incidents and problems in the university community. Community and student leaders were present to participate in the discussion.

Councilmember Midura said, “This forum is a great opportunity for community members and neighbors to engage with Tulane University, express concerns and discuss ways to ensure a healthy relationship between the university and the community.”

The forum, which was held at the Tulane University Rogers Chapel and was free and open to the public, was produced in cooperation with the Tulane Government Affairs and Student Affairs offices.

To view complete Announcement click here.


Councilmembers Hedge-Morrell and Willard-Lewis Participate in
Ninth Ward News Conference Announcing Millions of Dollars
In Grants to Aid in Louisiana's Recovery
(
March 6, 2009)

 Councilmembers Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis attended a news conference in the Ninth Ward where Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced millions of dollars of grants to aid in Louisiana's recovery.

Before the news conference, Donovan, Napolitano and visitors were given a first-hand look at the City's ongoing recovery through a bus tour of some of the metropolitan region's hard-hit areas including Southern University at New Orleans, Chalmette and the Ninth Ward.
 
District "E" Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis said, "We are so grateful that Secretaries Donovan and Napolitano took the time to visit New Orleans to see for themselves the recovery progress of the City. New Orleans is comprised of a wealth of culturally rich and diverse communities, and we must work together to ensure that the recovery needs of each community and its citizens are met."

To view complete News Release click here.


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

 The New Orleans City Council passed an Ordinance relative to the prohibition on out of parish use of city owned or leased vehicles, and held an Executive Session to address pending litigation and security plans relative to the possible creation of an independent Management Information Services system for the Council.

The Council also received a report from FEMA, informing the Council of their options regarding the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) which set flood levels throughout the City and therefore affect insurance rates.

Additionally, the Council received a presentation from the Louisiana Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on the challenges those afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis face.

Addressed Take-Home Vehicles Policy

The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,381, authored by Councilmember Head, to repeal Section 2-901 of the City Code. Section 2-901 prohibited any out of parish use of city owned or leased vehicles.

The Ordinance provides clarification regarding the administration's role in setting policy pertaining to take-home vehicles.

District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "As a Council we continuously work to ensure transparency and accountability in government. This Ordinance provides clarification on the City's take-home vehicles policy and affirms that the administration has the ability to set policy as needed relative to take-home cars."

Evaluated New Options on Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps 
 
Michael Honeycutt of FEMA came before the Council to present four new options regarding the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM), which set the flood levels throughout the City and affect insurance rates of New Orleans citizens.
 
The four options given to the Councilmembers were:

 
1. Use existing maps
2. Continue with the Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) recently adopted after hurricanes Katrina and Rita
3. Adopt the Preliminary DFIRMs data for compliance only
4. Adopt new DFIRMS through the normal adoption process

After reviewing the information presented by FEMA, the Council chose option two, which Councilmembers believe best protects the interests of all citizens.
 
By choosing to continue with the Advisory Base Flood Elevations, New Orleans citizens will still be protected from substantial damage caused by hurricanes of sizes comparable to Rita and Katrina.

Received Presentation on Multiple Sclerosis
  
Crystal Smith, Director of the Louisiana Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis, appeared before the Council to give a presentation and to promote M.S. Week, taking place from March 2nd to March 8th.
 
During M.S. Week, the Louisiana chapter is asking the New Orleans community to join the movement to "Move-It to End MS" with simple actions throughout the week to spread the word and raise awareness.
 
Also in attendance was Kathrine Hoover from Citizens with Disabilities and Peggy Wilson, the Chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Orleans and a former New Orleans City Councilmember.

Held Executive Session
  
The Council held an Executive Session to address pending litigation and the possible creation of an independent Management Information Services system for the Council. Due to the confidentiality of both issues, they were taken up in Executive Session closed to the public.
 
Pending Litigation
 
Attention was paid in Executive Session to pending litigation Case #09-2279, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, City Council versus Tracie Washington, Tionne Simon and the Louisiana Justice Institute.
 
Independent Management Information Services System
 
Councilmembers discussed the development of security plans relative to the possible creation of an independent Management Information Services system for the City Council. 

To view complete News Release click here.



 
 
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