New Orleans City Council
   
 
In this issue

Requests Attorney General Opinion on Document Production Time and Privilege Requirements Under Louisiana Public Records Act

Hosts Public Hearing on 2009 Hurricane Season Evacuation and Shelter Planning

Councilmember Hedge-Morrell Co-Hosts "Crime Town Hall" Meeting

City Council May 21, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Receives Presentation on Expedited Screening and Disposition Initiative

Supports Continuing Growth of Federal City

Councilmember Willard-Lewis Statement Re: Demolition of
Two Apartment Complexes in New Orleans East

Councilmember Fielkow Holds Panel Discussion on Potential Future Cuba - New Orleans Economic Relations

Community Evening Meeting on New Orleans Adolescent Hospital
Held in City Council Chamber

City Council May 7, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary

Supports Independent Evaluation of Council's Utility Regulatory Function

 

 
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NOLA Council News
May 29, 2009   Vol.2, No.7

Requests Attorney General Opinion on
Document Production Time and Privilege Requirements
Under Louisiana Public Records Act

(May 26, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council's Special Counsel Steven J. Lane has sent a letter to the State Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell requesting an advisory opinion relative to document production time and constituent privacy privilege requirements under the Louisiana Public Records Act.
 
The request for an Attorney General opinion is related to numerous public records requests made to the City Council asking that it produce three years of its emails.    
 
To read the City Council's letter requesting an Attorney General Opinion click here.
 
The letter was sent to the Attorney General following a three-day holiday weekend during which special counsel, technology experts and Councilmembers conducted reviews and began posting the emails on the City Council website.
 
Other recent developments in this matter include:

- May 22, 2009 - City Council begins posting emails on Council website. Click here to read News Release from May 22nd.

- May 18, 2009 - City Council reviewing over 2 million pages of emails for release. Click here to read News Release from May 18th.

- May 13, 2009 - State Supreme Court halts Councilmember email release by Tracie Washington. Click here to read News Release from May 13th.

- May 12, 2009 - 4th Circuit Court of Appeal overrules Orleans Civil District Court and allows City Councilmember emails in possession of lawyer Tracie Washington to be made public. Click here to read News Release from May 12th.

- May 6, 2009 - Court prohibits City Attorney's public release of Council emails until its Legal Counsel conducts privileged and confidential information review. Click here to read News Release from May 6th.

Media calls are being referred to Steven J. Lane, Attorney and Managing Partner, Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, (504) 680-0527, slane@hhkc.com

To view complete News Release click here.


Hosts Public Hearing on 2009 Hurricane Season
Evacuation and Shelter Planning

(May 26, 2009)

A public hearing on hurricane evacuation and shelter planning for the upcoming hurricane season was held on Tuesday, May 26th from 5-7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.
 
This hearing afforded citizens the opportunity to hear and comment on 2009 emergency plans. Citizens were also asked to share their experiences as evacuees in state emergency shelters last fall during Hurricane Gustav. The public hearing was a follow-up to the public's request for such an information session made during the May 7th City Council meeting.
 
Featured speakers included Kristy Nichols, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Sneed of the City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security, and representatives of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, Military Division, and the Louisiana State Police.
 
Hurricane Gustav forced nearly 2 million Gulf Coast residents to evacuate their homes, while nearly 800,000 residents in Louisiana were without power for days.

To view complete News Release on this meeting click here.


Councilmember Hedge-Morrell Co-Hosts
"Crime Town Hall" Meeting

(May 21, 2009)

District “D” Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, along with Senator J.P. Morrell, newly elected State Representative Jared Brossett, and Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, hosted a "Crime Town Hall" meeting for New Orleans citizens. The meeting was held from 6-8 p.m. in the gymnasium of Southern University at New Orleans.

The meeting highlighted citizen involvement, including general neighborhood awareness, and other techniques to impact violence on the streets.

The event brought together criminal justice leaders and representatives from around the City to discuss the issue of crime and its effects on individual communities and the City as a whole. Invited participants included: representatives from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's Office, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley, Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Chief Juvenile Judge David Bell, Criminal Justice Committee Chair Councilmember James Carter, State Representative Cedric Richmond, and representatives from Crimestoppers.

Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, “It is vital that we bring together criminal justice leaders, involved citizens and community leaders to help fight crime in our City – collaboration is key in this effort. The town hall meeting gave the public the opportunity to express their concerns, make suggestions, and learn ways that they can help fight crime in their own neighborhoods.”

To view complete Announcement on this meeting click here.


City Council May 21, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(May 21, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions addressing the Army Corps of Engineers' building plans for the 17th Street Canal and Orleans Canal pumping stations, and opposing the privatization of the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center, which serves the elderly and disabled communities of New Orleans.
 
Additionally, the Council passed a Motion confirming the award of five four-year Tulane University Mayoral Scholarships, and a Resolution supporting the consolidation of functions relative to hurricane protection, flood control, and coastal restoration.

The Council also addressed a presentation on mental health issues in the City, received a City-wide crime update from NOPD Chief Riley, and received a "State of Culture" Address from Irvin Mayfield.

Additionally, Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson acknowledged the meeting as her last Council meeting serving as Council President during her current term. Clarkson thanked her staff and her colleagues for a wonderful year. In accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Council, beginning June 1st Councilmember Arnie Fielkow will begin his term as Council President and Councilmember Clarkson will begin her term as Vice President.

Requested Preservation and Neighborhood Consideration from Army Corps of Engineers

The Council passed Resolution R-09-248, authored by Councilmember Midura, requesting that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) adopt a plan to build the 17th Street Canal pumping station which does not require confiscation of the land that Coconut Beach currently occupies. The Resolution serves as the Council's official public comment to the USACE regarding the plans for the two pumping stations.

Specifically, the Resolution calls upon the USACE to adopt a plan that both achieves maximum flood protection from storm surge and rain water, and also leaves the smallest possible environmental footprint in the neighboring human and natural environments; and declares the Council's support for a more neighborhood-friendly location and design for the Orleans Canal pumping station.

District "A" Councilmember Shelley Midura said, "Flood protection is of the utmost importance for our City and is high on the priority list of this Council. However, it's our hope that the Army Corps can develop a building plan for these pumping stations that takes into consideration the surrounding neighborhoods and residents, and in the case of the 17th Street Canal pumping station, preserves a beloved recreational facility - Coconut Beach."

Opposed Privatization of Local Rehabilitation Center for Elderly and Disabled 

The Council passed Resolution R-09-244, co-authored by Councilmembers Fielkow, Clarkson and Midura, opposing Louisiana House Bill No. 783 and the privatization of the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center, which has served the elderly and disabled populations of New Orleans since 1895.

Carolyn Harris Carter, Finance Chairman for the Advisory Board of the Hainkel Home, appeared before the Council to offer her support for the Resolution and express her gratitude to Councilmembers for supporting the Hainkel Home.

Specifically, the Resolution urges Governor Jindal to reconsider his decision to lease the Hainkel Home, and requests that public meetings be held in New Orleans regarding any plan going forward relative to the selling or leasing of the Hainkel Home - enabling State policy makers to hear first-hand the impact such actions will have on services for the elderly and disabled.

Supported State Consolidation of Hurricane Protection, Flood Control and Coastal Restoration Functions

The Council passed Resolution R-09-243, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, supporting House Bill 833, which will create a new office in the Office of the Governor to consolidate functions relative to hurricane protection, flood control, and coastal restoration.

The Resolution also asks that the Orleans Parish Legislative Delegation support House Bill 833 relative to organizing and codifying the organization of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and its implementation arm, the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration.

Addressed Community Matters and Presentations

Motion M-09-247 confirmed the award of five four-year Tulane University Mayoral Scholarships to the following scholars:
- Alia Soomro, Louise S. McGehee
- Charlotte Fournier, Benjamin Franklin
- Caroline Sanches, St. Mary's Dominican
- Jillian Poche, Benjamin Franklin
- Van Kim Nguyen, Benjamin Franklin

City-wide crime update from NOPD Chief Riley who informed the Council that crime in all areas is down 12%, although there have been significant increases in auto break-ins in the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Districts. The NOPD continues to focus on the 22 designated "hot spots" around the City where the force has been successful in reducing crime.

 

 



Presentation by Judge Calvin Johnson and Dr. Craig Coenson of the Metropolitan Human Services District on mental health issues in New Orleans and the mission of the District - to provide in an effective fashion, the outpatient mental health services that the community needs. The representatives noted several of the District's goals, including development of a patient guide on how to navigate the healthcare system and a method to track patients through the system of care.

"State of Culture" Address from Irvin Mayfield which outlined five objectives for the City's cultural community including: supporting community-based cultural traditions, investment in cultural infrastructure and facilities, and tracking new investment and informational resources. Mayfield proposed that a mission statement on the maintenance of the City's culture be adopted as part of the Master Plan and informed Councilmembers that there will be a series of weekly "Culture at the Center" forums to allow the public to contribute to the discussion.

To view complete News Release click here.


Receives Presentation on Expedited Screening and
Disposition Initiative

(May 21, 2009)

 

 

 

 


Criminal Justice Committee Chair Councilmember Carter led the Council in addressing a presentation by local criminal justice leaders and national experts on the Expedited Screening and Disposition Initiative, as an Order of Business during the Council’s regular meeting. The initiative aims to expedite practices for simple possession drug cases, which account for roughly one third of all arrests on state charges. 
 
Present were Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, Superintendent of Police Warren Riley, Vera Institute of Justice Director Michael Jacobson, and Jon Wool, who directs Vera's work in New Orleans.
 
The presentation participants discussed the ways in which the Initiative will move New Orleans more in line with national good practices by expediting processes, conserving public safety resources, ensuring public defenders are assigned at the earliest opportunity, and automating and streamlining data entry and information transmission.
 
Criminal Justice Committee Chair Councilmember James Carter said, "I am very proud to have these criminal justice leaders here before us today to highlight some of the positive improvements in coordination and collaboration throughout our criminal justice system. The successful launch of this Initiative represents a positive sign that the City's criminal justice leaders are committed to working together to advance meaningful reforms.
"
 
For more information on the Criminal Justice Leadership Alliance (CJLA) and the Expedited Screening Initiative click here.

To view a News Release on this Initiative click here.

To view complete News Release click here.


Supports Continuing Growth of Federal City
(May 21, 2009)

The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 27,480, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, to expand the effective date of the Algiers Economic Development District No. 1 to continue the growth and success of Federal City.
 
Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "Federal City is a vital government installation that will expand New Orleans' ability to host military commands and federal agencies. It is important that we take action to further the growth of this project, which supports our City's strongest industry and is the largest economic development project in the state."

To view complete News Release click here.


Councilmember Willard-Lewis Statement Re:
Demolition of Two Apartment Complexes in New Orleans East

(May 21, 2009)

"I am pleased to bring to you some very good news. After two years of testimonies and countless complaints, I am proud to finally say that what many of us know as 8181 Lake Forest Blvd. or La Provence Apartments will soon be demolished. The owners have just sent us a letter agreeing to demolish the entire complex. They are currently in negotiations with a demolition contractor and New Orleans East will soon reap the benefits.
 
"I am also elated to say that 14101 Michoud Blvd, formerly known as Oak Island apartments, will be demolished. The permit was granted on May 20, 2009.
 
"Both of these units were posing health risks to the citizens of New Orleans and were negatively affecting their quality of life. Since Hurricane Katrina, the community has been working diligently to bring New Orleans East back, and I am glad to say that with this great news, we are two steps closer.
 
"These units were constant reminders of the government's failures, as well as symbols of the greatest natural disaster to ever strike our country. By demolishing these units, we can begin to put our dark past behind us and look to a much better and brighter future.

"I would like to thank the community for being so engaged and staying involved in the process. I would like this to serve as a reminder that when we come together as one, with one goal, things change."

To view Statement click here.


Council Vice President Fielkow Holds Panel Discussion on
Potential Future Cuba - New Orleans Economic Relations

(May 12, 2009)

Council Vice President Arnie Fielkow convened an expert panel as part of a Special Development Projects & Economic Development Committee meeting to jumpstart New Orleans' preparation to renew and strengthen cultural and economic ties with Cuba. The committee meeting was organized in response to the Obama Administration's recently revised U.S. travel policy to Cuba and the feeling that the decades-old trade embargo on Cuba may be loosened or lifted at some future point.
 
"New Orleans needs to do everything within our powers and abilities to take advantage of bi-lateral trade opportunities around the world to grow our local economy," said Special Development Projects & Economic Development Committee Chair Councilmember Fielkow. "Other cities have aggressively established and cultivated relationships with Cuba to prepare themselves for future changes in U.S. policy. The panel hearing is the first in what will be many steps toward getting New Orleans ready to reap the benefits of increased relations with Cuba and the rest of Latin America."
 
The meeting reached a general consensus over two main points:
 
     - New Orleans must immediately begin to establish personal relationships with key Cuban officials, businesses and cultural entities. To that end, a tentative trip to Cuba to cultivate these relationships was discussed, with the possibility of joining with Tulane University's fall semester program in Havana, Cuba.

     - The City of New Orleans International Economic Development Department will provide the Council with a white paper regarding the legalities under federal law of finalizing a sister city relationship between New Orleans and Mariel, Cuba. This step will help facilitate vital relationships between the two cities and is traditionally a first step toward greater formalized relations.
 
Panelists included Lisa Ponce De Leon, Director of International Affairs for the City of New Orleans; Eugene Schreiber, Managing Director of the World Trade Center of New Orleans; Bobby Landry from the Port of New Orleans; Dr. Ana Lopez, Director of the Cuban & Caribbean Studies Institute of Tulane University; Randy Poindexter of the ForNorm Foundation; and Buffy Donlon, businesswoman and founder of AlaCaribe Initiative, Inc. headquartered in Mobile.

To view a News Release announcing this Panel Discussion click here.

To view a News Release summarizing the Panel Discussion click here.


Community Evening Meeting on New Orleans Adolescent Hospital
Held in City Council Chamber

(May 12, 2009)


A community meeting on the planned closure of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) was held in the City Council Chamber on Tuesday, May 12th from 6-8 p.m. The evening meeting time was specifically chosen to accommodate those citizens who work or who are otherwise unavailable during the day, to speak about NOAH in Uptown New Orleans. City Councilmembers, City Administration officials, local mental health experts and related organizations were present to hear citizens concerns.

Members of the City Council were approached with the idea of holding an 'after-hours' public meeting in the City Council Chamber previously at a community meeting in the Lower Ninth Ward. Citizens at that meeting expressed frustration that they were often not able to leave work and attend public hearings during the day. Councilmember Fielkow, along with many of his Council colleagues, including Councilmembers Cynthia Willard Lewis and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, agreed to help organize an evening public meeting.
 
Invited guests included Judge Calvin Johnson (Ret.) of the Metropolitan Human Services District, Dr. Kevin Stephens, Director of the City of New Orleans Health Department, Cecile Tebo of the NOPD's Crisis Unit and other mental health care providers and experts.

To view complete News Release click here.


City Council May 7, 2009 Regular Meeting Summary
(May 7, 2009)

The New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions supporting University of New Orleans (UNO) athletic programs, continuing operations at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) and addressing House Bill No. 60 on the state adoption process.
 
Additionally, the Council passed Motions electing the new Council President and Vice President.

The Council also addressed presentations on emergency shelters and the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, and honored Boh Brothers Construction on its 100 year anniversary and Quint Davis and the Jazz Fest Foundation for the event's 40 year anniversary.

Supported Preservation of UNO Athletic Programs
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-219, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, which calls on the local business community to join with government and citizens to work with the University of New Orleans (UNO) to preserve the educational and athletic programs currently set to be cut under the proposed State budget.
 
Jim Miller, UNO Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Ron Maestri, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the New Orleans Zephyrs and former UNO Athletic Director, appeared before the Council to thank Councilmembers for their continuous support of UNO and their dedication to preserving the university's athletics programs.
 
Intercollegiate athletics play an integral role in post-secondary education and often provide the financial and motivational means by which many students, particularly low income students, are able to gain a college education.
 
To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

Encouraged Continuing Operations at SUNO
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-225, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, encouraging the State Legislature to search for new funding streams in order to continue the operations of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO).
 
The Resolution acknowledges the financial shortfall faced by Louisiana's institutions of higher education, and further states the City Council's opposition to any proposed plan to close SUNO and/or merge it with the University of New Orleans (UNO).
 
Gloria Moultrie, Vice Chancellor for Community Outreach/University Advancement of SUNO, appeared before the Council to express her gratitude for the Council's commitment to continuing the operations of the university. State Representative Elect Jared Brossett also appeared before the Council to offer his support to SUNO and UNO.
 
SUNO's critical role in New Orleans stems from its prestigious School of Social Work and recently re-certified College of Education - both turn out trained professionals and critical research in two areas that are of utmost importance in New Orleans.
 
To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

Addressed House Bill on State Adoption Process  
 
The Council passed Resolution R-09-221, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, which states the Council's opposition to Louisiana House Bill No. 60 and urges all members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to vote against the passage of House Bill No. 60.
 
House Bill No. 60 calls for changing the criteria under which the State of Louisiana issues a new birth certificate for an adopted child. Specifically, the proposed bill calls for a birth certificate to be issued for an adopted child only to a married couple or single parent.
 
Randy Evans, Co-Political Director of Forum For Equality; Mary Griggs, Managing Director of Forum For Equality; Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union; and Jennifer Smiley, Political Co-Chair of Human Rights Campaign - New Orleans Steering Committee appeared before the Council to discuss the potential negative effects of House Bill No. 60 and express their gratitude for the Council's opposition to the legislation.
 
Critics of House Bill No. 60 also point out that by denying some adoptive parents the right to be on their child's birth certificate, that family may face difficulties in registering their child for school, medical benefits or insurance.
 
To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

Elected New Council President and Vice President
 
The Council passed Motions M-09-193 and M-09-194 providing for the election of Councilmember-at-Large Arnie Fielkow as Council President and Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson as Council Vice President.
 
In accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Council, both the Council President and Vice President will serve terms beginning June 1, 2009 and ending May 3, 2010.
 
Addressed Presentation on Emergency Services  



Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Sneed, Director of Homeland Security for the City of New Orleans; Kristy Nichols, Secretary of the Department of Social Services (DSS); Colonel Cliff Oliver of the Louisiana National Guard; and Mark Cooper of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness appeared before the Council to give a report on emergency shelters and hurricane preparedness.
 
The representatives discussed the state preparations for hurricane season, including the establishment of an urban search and rescue program, as well as public education programs on hurricane preparedness for children and their parents.
 
Kristy Nichols of the DSS highlighted the need to give citizens the confidence to evacuate if necessary, by ensuring them that they will have a place to go and that the process will be as efficient and streamlined as possible.
 
Due to the importance and complexity of the matter, Council Vice President Fielkow asked that a special public information hearing relative to hurricane preparedness and emergency shelters be convened in the next 30 days, with the participation of the City and State representatives at today's meeting, to give the public the opportunity to hear the details of the report and provide their comments and feedback.

Honored Boh Brothers' 100 Year Anniversary 
 
Robert S. Boh and Steven Boh of Boh Brothers Construction appeared before the Council to be honored by the Council and receive a proclamation recognizing the company's 100 year anniversary.
 
Former City Councilmember Johnny Jackson, on behalf of the Zulu Diamond Cutters Krewe and in recognition of the Boh Brothers Construction company's dedication to community outreach, presented the Boh brothers with the second of two specially made Zulu coconuts, the first was presented to President Barack Obama this past March.
 
Celebrated Jazz Fest's 40th Anniversary

The Council congratulated Quint Davis, producer and director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the Jazz Fest Foundation on the event's 40th anniversary and the largest Jazz Fest since 2001.
 
Quint Davis discussed the history of the Jazz Fest and how it has grown throughout the years. He also highlighted the festival's great economic impact on the City and thanked everyone who helped to make this year's festival a success.
 




Remembered the Fall of Saigon

 
Representatives of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans appeared before the Council today to give a presentation on the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. The Vietnamese representatives also coordinated the Presentation of the Colors as the Vietnamese National Anthem was played.
 
Verbal and video presentations offered background information on the 1975 Fall of Saigon and its effects on the Vietnamese community, and highlighted New Orleans' large Vietnamese American population.

To view complete News Release click here.


Supports Independent Evaluation of
Council's Utility Regulatory Function

(May 7, 2009)

Utility Committee Chair Councilmember Shelley Midura withdrew Motion M-09-223, which she authored, which would have retained the RAND Corporation, in partnership with the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI), to conduct an assessment of the Council's utility regulatory function.
 
Councilmember Midura stated that after much consideration of the voiced concerns of her Council colleagues leading up to the vote, she decided to withdraw the Motion. It became clear that the Council was not prepared to support moving forward with the Motion in time to have a report ready in advance of the next contract period for the Council's expert team of advisers.

Councilmember Midura said, "The Council, to its credit, has championed reform, particularly with the way this City handles city contracts, and we have held ourselves to a higher standard than we ask of the administration by voluntarily banning campaign contributions from our utility consultants with campaign finance legislation passed two years ago. As much as 30 million public dollars are at stake, and I have an obligation to act in the best interest of New Orleanians. We must make every effort not only to spend public dollars wisely and efficiently, but to instill public confidence through accountability measures such as periodic independent review."

Midura informed the Council that she made a formal request to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to perform a management review of the City Council's regulatory function, and that Interim Inspector General Odom indicated that his office is on board for this review and, in his words, should be able to comfortably fit it into their work schedule so that a report may be completed in time for the next round of Requests For Qualifications.

The City Council, in accordance with the New Orleans Home Rule Charter and the Louisiana Constitution, acts as retail regulator for electric and gas utility service in the City.

To view a News Release on this legislation click here.

To view complete News Release click here.






 
 
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