April 07, 2011
City Council Chamber
City Council April 7, 2011 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - April 7, 2011 - Today, the New Orleans City Council received presentations from the Landrieu Administration outlining the City's budget performance measurement and management strategy and GNO, Inc. updating the economic growth of the New Orleans Region.
The Council introduced a motion to revise its rules and regulations; and passed motions to hold public hearings to consider establishing the Greater Tulane Interim Zoning District and to expand the existing boundaries of the Inner City Urban Corridor District.
The Council passed resolutions to address wage theft; urge Congress to ensure Harbor Maintenance Taxes are appropriated for the intended purpose of operating and maintaining the Nation's ports; support the expansion of the Streetcar along the Rampart - St. Claude Corridor; and urge full federal funding of a termite treatment program for the historic French Quarter.
The Council also introduced ordinances expanding the boundaries of the Gentilly - Pontchartrain Park Cultural District to include Dillard University; creating a Gun Offenders' Registry; and, officially designating Congo Square in Armstrong park.
The Council's final action, by resolution, congratulated the New Orleans Hornets Basketball team for advancement into the playoffs.
Received Administration Performance Measurement and Management Report
Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Cary Grant, Chief Information Officer Alan Square and Policy Director Oliver Wise appeared before the City Council to outline the City's performance measurement and management strategy and blight strategy plans. Deputy Mayor Kopplin stressed that the administration is working to demonstrate accountability and improve the delivery of public services. Through the remainder of the year and in preparation of the 2012 budget the administration will continue to report to the City Council how taxpayer dollars are invested and how departments are being held accountable.
Council President Fielkow said, "We appreciate your continued appearances before the Council reporting on the 2011 budget relative to revenues and expenditures. The budgeting for outcomes strategy requires that we meet often throughout the year to develop the most effective 2012 budget."
New Orleans Region Economic Development Presentation Given
Appearing before the New Orleans City Council, Greater New Orleans, Inc., President and CEO Michael Hecht presented on the growth and rebirth of the Greater New Orleans area post Katrina. GNO, Inc. is a non-profit organization serving as the regional economic development hub, coordinating, consolidating and catalyzing economic development initiatives. A video entitled "New Orleans at the Inflection Point," was shown to the Council that demonstrated the growth and improving viability of the region.
Council Vice-President Clarkson said, "New Orleans is the economic center of the region and the State of Louisiana. To realize our potential and advance economic development initiatives, the metropolitan area must be united. New Orleans is the natural leader, because located within our municipal boundaries are the Port, Federal City and the French Quarter, among many other assets."
District "D" Councilmember Jon D. Johnson, Chairman of the Economic Development and Special Projects Committee said, "In all economic development discussions, small businesses, which are the backbone of Louisiana and the Metropolitan Area's economy, must be given attention and direction. As leaders we should place more emphasis on local businesses, large and small, and work as a metropolitan team to support opportunities to attract business."
Council Rules Updated for Clarity and Efficiency
The Council introduced Motion M-11-160, authored by Councilmembers Fielkow, Clarkson, Guidry, Head, Gisleson Palmer, Hedge-Morrell and Johnson, to revise its rules and regulations in the best interest of serving the public. The rules relative to Council business and meetings have not been comprehensively revised in several years. These revisions represented participation and contributions from each Council Office.
Council Chief of Staff Evelyn Pugh said, "Councilmembers expressed the intent to make clearer these procedural areas. These revisions to the Council Rules are being offered to clarify and ultimately make the legislative and government processes of the Council operate more effectively and serve the public interest."
Urged Congress to Direct Harbor Taxes to American Ports
At the request of Councilmember Fielkow, the Council received a presentation by maritime advocate for the Mississippi River Maritime Association, Sean Duffy, on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and passed Resolution R-11-139, authored by Councilmember Fielkow, urging the United States Congress to adopt H.R. 104 and legislatively tie HMTF appropriations to be spent on its intended purpose of operation and maintenance of the nation's ports and harbors. The bipartisan legislation, by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany and Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, calls for HMT revenues entering the HMTF, which are running a surplus of nearly $5.65 Billion, to be spent on maintaining America's waterways.
The Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) is assessed upon maritime importers in the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes harbors and channels.
Council President Fielkow said, "The Port of New Orleans is a tremendous contributor to the economic stability of our city. It is absolutely crucial that the United States government do everything possible to keep the operation and maintenance of our port, and all of America's ports, a top priority."
Congratulated New Orleans Hornets
The Council passed Resolution R-11-171, authored by Councilmember Clarkson, congratulating the Hornets Basketball Team on its advance to the National Basketball Association playoffs in the Southwest Division. The Council acknowledged the renewed community support for the team.
Council Vice President Clarkson said, "Our city came together and supported the Hornets in January to keep the team in New Orleans. And now the pride and enthusiasm of our fans has once again prevailed, and we'll continue cheering on the Hornets as they advance to the playoffs!"
Public Hearings Called for Inner City Urban Corridor and Proposed Greater Tulane Interim Zoning District
The Council passed Motions M-11-157 and M-11-158 authored by Councilmembers Head and Guidry directing the City Planning Commission to hold a public hearing to consider establishing the Greater Tulane Interim Zoning District to compliment the existing standards in the Urban Corridor District and to expand the existing boundaries of the Inner City Urban Corridor District to include the area bounded by North Claiborne Avenue, Gravier Street, South Hennessy Street and Palmyra Street.
District "B" Councilmember Head said, "It is critical that we hear from the public with regard to zoning and planning issues along these very vital commercial and mixed-use corridors. These are areas being targeted for important development and we want to ensure regulations are in place that will promote ordered and sustained growth."
Supported Efforts to Fight Wage Theft
The Council passed Resolution R-11-161, authored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Guidry, supporting the Judges, Constable and Clerk of First City Court in addressing the issue of wage theft through the creation of a new process of monthly hearings. The hearings process will include providing translators and fee waivers for those who are unable to afford court filing costs. The Council pledged to continue to work with all parties to seek additional effective instruments to address wage theft in New Orleans.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "Day laborers have been a critical part of our rebuilding efforts, and I am pleased to see that we are addressing this issue and providing a process of recourse for victims of theft. This process will hopefully deter people from thinking that they can take advantage of our day laborers, and will help to get the word out to other laborers and the general public about who are the repeat offenders of wage theft."
Council President Fielkow said, "The Council, along with community organizations and the Administration, has researched and reviewed this issue and its impact in other jurisdictions. We fully support the protection of day laborers who have contributed so much to the recovery of New Orleans, and we look forward to continuing to address wage theft in the most effective manner."
Supported Streetcar Expansion
The Council passed Resolution R-11-152, authored by Councilmember Gisleson-Palmer, supporting the expansion of an "At Grade" Streetcar Crossing at the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks at Press Street. The proposed Regional Transit Authority/Veolia Streetcar expansion is projected to transform the two thoroughfares down Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue to Press Street. The expansion is expected to improve the redevelopment of these down river areas.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson-Palmer said, "The expansion of the streetcar line into our downtown neighborhoods is a top priority for me. These downtown neighborhoods are vital to our City and are where the residents who drive our cultural economy live. Expanding streetcar lines provides a green and sustainable form of public transportation, while transforming neighborhoods and providing access to all. Public transportation is economic development."
Introduced Gun Offenders' Registry
The Council introduced Ordinance Calendar Number 28,434, authored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Guidry, creating a Gun Offenders' Registry within the New Orleans Police Department. The registry provides for penalties for gun offenders in violation of Louisiana gun laws, including aggravated assault with a firearm, theft of a firearm and illegal carrying of weapons.
The ordinance does not in any way affect the general public's right to legally possess a firearm. The proposed new law is supported by the NOPD and is patterned after successful municipal laws enacted in the City of Baltimore and other cities around the nation.
The ordinance will be heard at the next Criminal Justice Committee meeting on April 27th and the City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance during the April 28th City Council meeting.
Council President Fielkow said, "The NOPD should have all available resources at their fingertips in order to do their jobs as effectively as possible and keep our streets safe. This ordinance provides the NOPD the legal basis to create one more significant resource for their use. Additionally, I would like to stress that gun offender registries are a best practice that in no way violate any person's right to legally bear a firearm. Gun offender registries have one goal, and that is to fight crime."
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "As co-chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, I hear pleas and concerns about public safety every day. I work closely with the NOPD in their fight against crime, and this piece of legislation will contribute to their success. Every person living in this city has the right to feel safe in their homes and on the street."
Congo Square in Armstrong Park Officially Designated
The Council introduced Ordinance Calendar Number 28,411, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, officially renaming and dedicating Congo Square in Armstrong Park in honor of the French, Spanish and Louisiana Creole historical celebratory cultural gatherings held in the square. Located in the Treme neighborhood, Congo Square in Armstrong Park is known as the 18th Century Sunday gathering place of slaves. The gatherings were known to include a market place as well as singing, dancing and music. The park is famous for its African-American history and is a part of the African-American Heritage Cultural District.
The Council is expected to vote on the ordinance to officially name Congo Square at the April 28th City Council meeting.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "Congo Square in Armstrong Park is a rich part of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Treme Neighborhood. I am pleased to initiate the legislative action that formally and forever designates this important and sacred place for generations to visit and remember."
Urged Continued Federal Funding of Formosan Termite Eradication Program
The Council passed Resolution R-11-150, authored by Councilmembers Clarkson and Gisleson Palmer, urging continued full federal funding for Operation Full Stop, a termite treatment program that has reduced the reproduction of Formosan termites up to 60 percent. Formosan termites cost the New Orleans area approximately $300 million annually. Of particular concern is termite infestation in the French Quarter where there is a concentration of buildings over 200 years old that share common walls and rest on wooden foundations.
Council Vice President Clarkson said, "We cannot allow French Quarter homes and businesses to be eroded by termite damage. The beautiful historic nature of these buildings which attracts residents, artists, and trourists also makes them susceptible to termite infestation. Operation Full Stop ensures that a preventable infestation does not crumble the infrastructure of this historic neighborhood and economic stronghold."
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "This issue is of particular concern to the French Quarter, a National Historic Landmark. We urge full federal funding of this vital program to protect historic properties and the $5 billion economic investments that visitors make to our local economy."
Dillard University Included in Gentilly - Pontchartrain Park Cultural District Boundaries
The Council introduced Ordinance Calendar Number 28,392, authored by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, amending Section 142-38 of the Code of the City of New Orleans expanding the boundaries of the Gentilly - Pontchartrain Park Cultural District to include Dillard University.
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said," Dillard University has been a cultural landmark and a community gathering place since the historically important University's inception. I am proud to add the ordinance that officially joins it to the Gentilly - Pontchartrain Park Cultural District."