April 08, 2010
City Council Chamber
City Council April 8, 2010 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - April 8, 2010 - Today, the New Orleans City Council voted to override the Mayor's veto of an Ordinance previously passed by the Council to prohibit the City from contracting with certain convicted felons.
The Council passed Resolutions addressing forward progress on the approval of the Master Plan, encouraging the return of passenger rail service between New Orleans and Orlando, and honoring a former City employee.
Additionally, the Council addressed presentations supporting an educational reading program and honoring local blues and gospel singer Marva Wright.
The Council also introduced on first reading an Ordinance which would establish an intact dog permit.
Overrode Mayor's Veto of Ordinance Prohibiting City from Contracting with Certain Felons
Councilmember Head led the Council in overriding the Mayor's veto of Ordinance No. 23,911 M.C.S., authored by the Councilmember, to establish restrictions for execution of City Contracts with convicted felons.District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "I am pleased that the Council passed the ordinance unanimously to end city contracting where it has been shown that the principals of the contracting entity have engaged in public corruption. The citizens of our City should not see their tax dollars spent in such irresponsible ways."
As amended, the Ordinance prohibits City contracting with any person, corporation or entity, whose principal(s), member(s) and/or officer(s) have within the past five years been convicted of, or pled guilty to, a felony under state or federal statues for embezzlement, theft of public funds, bribery, falsification or destruction of public records.
Addressed Forward Progress on Approval of Master Plan
The Council passed Resolution R-10-175, introduced by Councilmember Clarkson, expressing the Council's intent to adopt a Motion at its April 22nd meeting to propose any modifications to the Master Plan and send it back to the City Planning Commission.Council Vice President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "The Council has held public hearings over the last few weeks in all areas of the City to provide citizens with the opportunity to get involved in the Master Plan process. Now it is time that we make any necessary recommendations for changes to the Master Plan and move forward on this very important initiative."
The Council received the Master Plan from the City Planning Commission on February 25, 2010. After holding numerous public meetings throughout the City and in each Council District in order to allow for citizen input and participation in the planning process, it is time for the Council to accept, reject or propose modifications to the plan.
Encouraged Return of Rail Service between New Orleans and Orlando
The Council passed Resolution R-10-163, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, renewing the Council's call for the return of passenger rail service between New Orleans and Orlando, and requesting that Congress mandate such action and provide the funding necessary for capital improvements and to operate the train.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak's Sunset Limited line served railroad travelers from Los Angeles through New Orleans to Orlando, the only transcontinental passenger rail service. Hurricane Katrina damaged much of the line infrastructure along the Gulf Coast and Amtrak suspended the portion of the line that ran between New Orleans and Orlando.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "Since Hurricane Katrina, this Council has supported the restoration of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast, which would create jobs and have a tangible economic impact on Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and would benefit the entire country by providing a link to the Gulf Coast from the Midwest and West Coast."
Introduced Ordinance to Establish Intact Dog Permit
In response to several recent dog attacks on small children in New Orleans, Councilmember Hedge-Morrell introduced on first reading Ordinance Calendar No. 27,953 to establish an intact dog permit.
Specifically, the Ordinance states that owners or keepers must spay or neuter all dogs over 6 months old, or if the owner or keeper intends to keep the animal intact, he/she may obtain an intact dog permit. Intact is defined as an animal that has not been surgically spayed or neutered by a licensed veterinarian.
The Ordinance will establish a $20 annual fee for intact dogs over six months old. There will be exceptions for medical reasons, as well as law enforcement and rescue dogs. The Ordinance dedicates all revenue collected to support animal control activities within the City. The LA/SPCA will continue to provide low cost spay and neuter services to the general public four days a week.
District "D" Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, "The fact is that intact dogs are much more likely to bite. It's unfortunate that we have to pass legislation to make people be responsible pet owners. We have worked hard to make sure that this legislation will have minimal impact on those who are responsible, while giving the SPCA a valuable enforcement tool for those who aren't."
Received Presentation on Educational Reading Program
At the request of Councilmember Carter, Dr. Michael Sartisky, President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), and Miranda Restovic, Co-Director of LEH's Prime Time Family Reading Time, appeared before the Council to share the success of the reading program to promote literacy activities among children and their parents.
Prime Time Family Reading Time is a humanities-based program of reading, discussion and story-telling that is free and open to the public. Currently, there are approximately 500 programs in Louisiana, and 100 of those programs take place in New Orleans. Prime Time has been commended as a national standard for excellence in humanities programming for children and youth at risk.
District "C" Councilmember James Carter said, "This educational program has proven to be one of the best of its kind. Any program that positively impacts youth in our community should receive maximum support from the Council, and we applaud the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for its commitment to New Orleans children and their families."
Honored Local Blues and Gospel Singer
At the request of Councilmember Head, Marva Wright's daughter Gerry McKey, son-in-law Sean McKey and former manager Glenn Gaines appeared before the Council to receive a Proclamation honoring the life of Marva Wright, a powerful local blues and gospel singer affectionately known as the "Blues Queen of New Orleans."
Wright began her professional singing career at the age of 40 and performed in venues around the world. A member of the New Orleans community and a resident of District "B", Wright was recognized by the Council for her many contributions to the City's culture and music. The Council also extended their support and condolences to her family and friends.
District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "Marva Wright is one of New Orleans' most beloved and talented blues and gospel singers. Her influence and contributions to the musical community will not be forgotten, and her legacy will live on forever. She will be dearly missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Honored Former City Employee
The Council passed Resolution R-10-126, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, stating that the Council is saddened by the loss of a friend, Connie Francis Keys, and will always remember her fondly.
Councilmember Clarkson's Chief of Staff Elaine White and New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) representatives Ann Jackson, Brenda LeBeau and Elwin Carter appeared before the Council to honor Keys and share their memories of her.
Keys previously worked for the New Orleans Recreation Department for many years and later joined the staff of Councilmember Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson as Director of Special Events for Council District "C".
Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "Connie lived her life in service to family, friends and the residents of New Orleans, and her dedication and devotion to the City should serve as an example to which all city employees should aspire."