February 1, 2019

Message from Councilmember Joseph I. Giarrusso III

I hope this finds you preparing for a fun and safe Mardi Gras. As we get into the height of the season, please be considerate of your fellow parade goers so everyone can enjoy the parades and stay safe. Use your common sense: don’t put hot coals in trash cans; don’t rope off public areas or block intersections with ladders; and leave all weapons at home. You can also help to keep the city clean by bringing a trash bag out to the route so Sanitation has an easier time cleaning up after the parades pass. Several organizations will be out collecting recyclables and unwanted beads. Look for them after Muses, Tucks, and Thoth. All of these efforts help to reduce the impact of Mardi Gras on our infrastructure, particularly our catch basins.
For more information on rules and recommendations, click here.
I hope to see you riding or out on the route!
Holding S&WB Accountable
If you are interested in what’s going on at the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB), you now have one place to go for reports presented to and information prepared by the New Orleans City Council. Reports the utility provides to the Council quarterly, as well as summaries of board meetings prepared by the Council Utilities Regulatory Office after each monthly meeting can be found under “Committee Resources” on the Public Works Committee page of our website.
We are also preparing to focus on the S&WB finances. We recently released a Request for Qualifications seeking accounting/auditing firms to advise the Council on water services financial analysis. The selected advisers will review all available records, data, and statistics regarding the financial status of the S&WB, analyze adherence to the S&WB's financial obligations, and to outline necessary improvements to help the public understand the agency's finances. To read the RFQ, or to submit your qualifications click here.
Infrastructure Improvements
Speaking of infrastructure, the Department of Public Works (DPW) gave an update on their MaxPave program at the February Public Works Committee meeting. MaxPave is a joint effort between DPW and S&WB to fill the utility service cuts (trenches or rectangular holes left after utility work and filled with gravel) across the city. The program began in November 2018 and will run through spring of this year. The project will cost $6.5 million and will fix 881 of these service cuts. Half have been fixed to date.

DPW also recently presented an update on FEMA-funded street repairs. As a reminder, this is the $2.4 billion in federal funding that was awarded to the city following Hurricane Katrina. Spending got off to a very slow start, but the administration has promised ramp up. Nineteen projects have been approved already and DPW has committed to having more projects underway by June. In total, 247 projects are planned. My office will continue to track these funds to ensure that the City is on pace to spend all of it by the federal government’s 2023 deadline.
Vehicle Burglaries
We are aware that car break-ins are up, and as a resident of District A I understand how frustrating and concerning it is. At almost every neighborhood meeting, this issue is brought up. Here’s the latest data we have from the Council’s contracted crime analyst: Vehicle burglaries have been increasing steadily since mid-2018 and are up nearly 130 percent so far this year relative to last year at this time. District A has seen the second largest increase in these crimes relative to this time last year. 
Nearly half (44 percent) of all individuals charged in a vehicle burglary incident in 2018 was a juvenile. And many of these juveniles are being arrested multiple times. Not surprisingly, juvenile court intake for vehicle burglary is up as well. I have met with the Juvenile Court judges about this issue to express the views of District A, and will urge them to attend neighborhood meetings so they can hear first-hand your concerns.
I hope everyone has a great Mardi Gras. My office will be closed on Tuesday, March 5 but will otherwise be open. Call us at 504-658-1010 or reach out using our new office email address: joseph.giarrusso@nola.gov.

The traffic signal at this intersection is FINALLY fixed. There are still many out across the city and we will continue to press the administration for quicker fixes to these safety hazards.
We are also working with DPW and others to address the traffic issues caused by the new signals at the City Park Ave./Canal St./Canal Blvd. intersection. While the changes were designed to improve the intersection for pedestrians and transit riders, the impact to vehicle traffic has been significant and unacceptable. We are looking at ways to improve the intersection so drivers can get through the intersection more quickly.

In January, the Council honored Brenda Lomax-Brown, president of the Hollygrove-Dixon Neighborhood Association, for the incredible work she’s done for her neighborhood. Ms. Brenda retired from the United States Air Force after serving for 30 years and attaining the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Since joining the neighborhood association in 2009, Ms. Brenda has been hard at work planting community gardens, fighting blight, and making her community better for every resident.

Recently Hollygrove-Dixon was awarded first prize in the Water Wise Gulf South’s “Water Wise Green Infrastructure Project Challenge for their plan to improve drainage at the Life Transformation Community Center.

Xavier University and Ochsner Health Systems are continuing their partnership – this time to build a master’s degree program to educate and train Physician Assistants. Students will take courses at Xavier and complete their clinical training at Ochsner facilities. The 26-month program will have a significant impact on the number of PA's in Louisiana. Xavier plans to graduate 40 from the inaugural class.

This is an exciting development for Xavier, Ochsner, and District A.
March 19: Public Works Committee Meeting
Agenda will focus on S&WB Finances
March 27: Quality of Life Committee Meeting
Agenda will focus on homeless encampments under overpasses and panhandlers across the city