July 01, 2010
City Council Chamber
City Council July 1, 2010 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - July 1, 2010 - Today, the New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions supporting coastal restoration projects to mitigate effects of the oil spill, and encouraging the increase of the Revenue Sharing Fund and passage of the Uniting American Families Act.
Additionally, the Council approved a Zoning Docket to permit construction of a new Criminal Justice Complex, passed an Ordinance enhancing emergency access in a local neighborhood, and made presentations to special community guests including famed New Orleans musician Pete Fountain, City recreation representatives and leaders of Essence Music Festival.
The Council also passed Motion M-10-288, rescheduling the Council's August 5th and August 19th Regular Meetings to August 12th and August 26th.
Encouraged Increase of Revenue Sharing Fund
The Council passed Resolution R-10-287, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, requesting Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature to include in the State's 2011 budget, sufficient appropriations as provided for in the 1974 Louisiana Constitution to increase the Revenue Sharing Fund to an amount required to offset revenues lost by local governments as a result of the Homestead Exemption.
In 1980, when the Homestead Exemption was increased from $50,000 to $75,000, the State did not appropriate a corresponding increase to the Revenue Sharing Fund and has not increased appropriations beyond the $90 million originally provided nearly 36 years ago, resulting in a Revenue Sharing Fund amount insufficient to offset local government losses attributed to the increased Homestead Exemption, increased property values and inflation.
While the City has only received $6 million in Revenue Sharing Fund revenues in 2010, the Bureau of Governmental Research estimates the local government tax losses on homestead exempt assessed value in New Orleans in 2010 to be in excess of $55 million.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "In order to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of Revenue Sharing Fund revenues in the manner consistent with the intent in the 1974 Louisiana Constitution, the Legislature must appropriate additional funds. These funds will help to provide our citizens with the services and physical improvements vital to their quality of life and safety."
Permitted Construction of New Criminal Justice Complex
The Council unanimously approved Zoning Docket 30/10 to permit the construction of a new Criminal Justice Complex in New Orleans, contingent upon 24 provisos and meetings with stakeholders and experts who will review and impact issues related to the design and construction of the complex. In addition, these advisors will consider related issues including funding and arrest and detention policies.
The stakeholders and experts include key city officials including the Orleans Parish Sheriff, representatives from the Landrieu administration, the City Attorney, Chief of Police, District Attorney, District "B" Councilmember, Council Criminal Justice Committee Co-Chairs, and representatives from several community organizations focused on criminal justice.
Additional advisors are representatives from the Vera Institute of Justice, VOTE (Voice of Formerly Incarcerated Persons), the Department of Justice, and any other group the advisors may call upon.
District "A" Councilmember Susan G. Guidry said, "Our incarceration rate is the highest in the country, and our murder rate remains high as well. Clearly, different solutions are required, and there are best practices that are working successfully in other urban areas. As Co-Chair of the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee and an invested stakeholder, I am committed to bringing a variety of alternative programs to broader public discussion and to pursuing the goals outlined in the Mayor's Transition Task Force."
Supported Coastal Restoration Projects to Mitigate Effects of Oil Spill
Timothy Doody, President of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East (SLFPA-E), and Carlton Dufrechou, General Manager of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission and head of SLFPA-E's Coastal Advisory Committee, appeared before the Council to give a presentation on the status of actions taken to monitor and mitigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Council passed Resolution R-10-283, introduced by Councilmembers Fielkow and Clarkson, supporting the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East Coastal Advisory Committee's request to the United States Coast Guard Sector New Orleans to fund the implementation of specific projects to reduce damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by providing a rock shoreline barrier to any oil that may enter Lake Borgne.
The Coastal Advisory Committee was established by SLFPA-E to coordinate quarterly reviews to monitor the status of coastal projects in the Pontchartrain Basin and develop an inventory of specific projects that could enhance storm protection and be implemented quickly. After reviewing 30 potential projects, the Committee requested the Coast Guard fund the implementation of the:
- Orleans Landbridge/Alligator Bend Shoreline Protection Project, which provides for over 5 miles of shoreline protection and marsh creation along the New Orleans East Land Bridge; and
- Biloxi Marsh - Lake Borgne Shoreline Protection Project, which proposes construction of approximately 6 miles of shoreline protection along the southeastern shoreline of Lake Borgne.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "It is critical that we implement these coastal restoration efforts immediately to ensure that our wetlands are protected from oil contamination and future environmental disasters."
Council Vice President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "The Council applauds the Authority for all of the work that has been done to protect southeast Louisiana from hurricanes and catastrophic flood events."
Enhanced Emergency Access in Local Neighborhood
The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 28,038, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, to rename part of Hendee Street in the Fifth Municipal District, at the request of the Orleans Parish Communications District, in order to eliminate duplicative addresses to avoid any confusion in the emergency responder community.
Six months ago, the Orleans Parish Communications District (911 Call) discovered that the recent construction in the former Fischer Project had been given addresses duplicating existing address ranges on Hendee Street, which can create confusion. Specifically, the Ordinance renames the blocks from 2150-2199 and 2200-2399 of Hendee Street, south of General Degaulle Drive to the Parish boundary line with Jefferson Parish, to Westbank Expressway Service Road, which matches the name of the road on the Jefferson Parish side of the Parish boundary.
District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, "Through collaborative meetings and discussions with representatives from the City Planning Commission, Public Works, Safety and Permits, my office and other state and local departments, we have developed a solution which will serve our emergency responders and ensure the public's safety with minor impact to residents and the community as a whole."
Made Presentations to Special Community Guests
Supported NORD Facilities
Gregory St. Etienne, Deputy Mayor of Operations; Victor Richard, Director of the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD); Derrick Henderson, representative of Harrell Park; Nancy Broadhurst, Executive Director of Friends of NORD; and Mike Drury, representative of Mickey Retif Playground and Founder of Coconut Beach volleyball league, appeared before the Council to be recognized for their recent community initiative.
Mickey Retif Playground, widely known as Coconut Beach, recently raised $12,000, through the assessment of a fee to each summer league volleyball team, to donate to NORD's Harrell Park. These funds were presented to Friends of NORD, which will distribute the funds to the park, a Hollygrove facility that offers football, basketball, baseball, softball, track and cheerleading for youth ages 5-14, serving approximately 450 kids from that community.
District "A" Councilmember Susan G. Guidry and Youth and Recreation Committee Chair Councilmember Arnie Fielkow coordinated with Mickey Retif Playground to identify Harrell Park as the ideal recipient of this gift, which will be used for uniforms and back stops as well as hot dogs and refreshments for October's All Sports Banquet.
Councilmember Guidry said, "One of the most important steps we can take to reduce the culture of crime in our City is to adequately serve our youth with the mentorship that quality summer programs provide. Harrell Park is an important asset of the Hollygrove community, but the facility is severely underfunded. The park has high quality programming in place and is equipped to make the best use of this immediate infusion of funds."
Celebrated Pete Fountain's Cultural Contributions
Famed New Orleans Dixieland Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain appeared before the Council today, along with family and friends, to be honored on his 80th birthday for all that he has contributed to the culture of New Orleans.
Councilmembers presented Mr. Fountain with a Proclamation recognizing his many contributions to the City through his music.
Recognized Essence Festival Organizers
At the request of Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, Michelle Ebanks, President of Essence Communications Inc., and Stephen Rehage, Founder of Rehage Entertainment, the company in charge of producing Essence Music Festival, appeared before the Council to talk about the 40th Annual Essence Music Festival, taking place this weekend in New Orleans.
Ebanks and Rehage discussed the many community outreach initiatives and programs associated with the festival, as well as the festival's history with the City of New Orleans.
District "D" Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, "We are so honored to have Essence Fest happening in our City yet again. We truly appreciate the historic and ongoing relationship that Essence has with New Orleans and we look forward to a great festival."
Supported the Uniting American Families Act
The Council passed Resolution R-10-289, introduced by Councilmember Head, supporting the Uniting American Families Act.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents, and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
The UAFA would allow same-sex relationships to be treated no differently from opposite sex relationships, and all legal requirements of qualifying under the statute and providing the good faith nature of their relationship would remain.
District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "We strongly support the passage of this bill to end discrimination and allow same-sex partners to access immigration benefits in an equal and fair manner. Current immigration laws unfairly discriminate against same-sex couples - in our diverse society, we must learn to look past the differences between us."