April 28, 2011
City Council Chamber
City Council April 28, 2011 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - April 28, 2011 - Today, the New Orleans City Council passed ordinances protecting permanent business owners selling their merchandise outdoors during Jazz Fest; tightening regulations against fraudulent permits and licenses; and officially naming and designating Congo Square.
The Council elected Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson as its new City Council President and Councilmember-at-Large Arnie Fielkow as City Council Vice President.
The Council, by motion, approved recommended changes in the Ground Transportation Bureau's system for awarding licenses in the Pedicab Service Pilot Program. Resolutions were also passed supporting streetcar expansion and commemorating the life of New Orleans pharmacist Horace C. Bynum Sr.
The Council heard presentations from the New Orleans Consular Corps, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Vietnamese American Community.
The regular meeting of the Council began approximately two hours later than the traditional 10 a.m. time due to the Councilmembers attendance at Mayor Mitch Landrieu's State of the City Address.
Commemorated the Life of Horace C. Bynum Sr. Civil Rights Activist
The Council passed Resolution R-11-178, co-authored by Councilmembers Hedge-Morrell and Gisleson Palmer, mourning the loss of New Orleans native, Mr. Horace C. Bynum, who died at the age of 94. The Bynum family appeared before the Council for a presentation honoring the late Mr. Bynum, pharmacist, entrepreneur and civil-rights activist. After receiving a degree in Pharmacy from Xavier University, Bynum opened his own pharmacy, when he was unable to obtain a decent job because he was African-American. Later he opened two additional drugstores, which are today operated by his sons Horace Jr. and Adolph. Bynum's civic participation included joining partnerships that built more than 200 homes throughout New Orleans. He was president of the local NAACP chapter and was active in civil-rights movements such as the desegregation of the Sugar Bowl, Municipal Auditorium and the New Orleans Recreation Department.
Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "Mr. Bynum not only overcame the adversity of racism, he also worked to advance equality in New Orleans and to improve the lives of African-Americans throughout the city. His death is mourned by his family as well as the many people throughout the city who knew and loved him."
City Councilmembers Attend Mayor's State of the City Address
Earlier today, Councilmembers attended Mayor Landrieu's State of the City Address held at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Addressing those in attendance, Mayor Landrieu discussed the challenges the City is facing among the most prominent being crime and public safety. The Mayor also took the opportunity to highlight the administration's successes over the last year and outlined his vision for the next year.
Council-Vice President Clarkson said, "Mayor Landrieu made an excellent speech which addressed the exact issues that we need to focus on. I'm especially pleased with his emphasis on the fight against violent crime, and with his appointment of former Councilman James Carter as Criminal Justice Commissioner. Carter led the Criminal Justic Committee while serving on the City Council, and I am thrilled that he is joining the Mayor in his effort. I was also very proud that the Mayor introduced the City Council as his partners; we all look forward to working together further."
Protected Permanent Business Owners Selling Merchandise Outdoors During Jazz Fest
The Council passed Ordinance Calendar Number 28,432, co-authored by Councilmembers Guidry and Hedge-Morrell, which clarified for business and shop owners what merchandise can be displayed and sold in front of businesses during the two designated weekends of the Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The ordinance impacts retailers within the boundaries of Florida Avenue, North Broad Street, Esplanade Avenue and Bayou St. John. It excludes those retailers within the exterior boundaries of the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "The annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is among the largest economic contributors to local businesses. The festival draws international and national visitors to listen to great music, eat amazing food and shop the unique stores of the City. The Council sought to clarify and protect local permanent retailers to ensure that, within the confines of the law, business owners are allowed to display and sell their merchandise on the street, further boosting the economic impact of Jazz Fest."
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "One of my favorite pastimes is shopping at the unique retail stores of New Orleans. Visitors and local Jazz Fest participants enjoy the sites, sounds and retail opportunities as they are walking to and from the Fairgrounds. This ordinance will assist retailers in participating fully in the economic benefits of Jazz Fest."
Tightened Regulations Against Fraudulent Permits and Licenses
The Council passed Ordinance Calendar Number 28, 433, co-authored by Councilmembers Gisleson Palmer and Guidry to amend the City Code to define permit or license violations. The measure allows the revocation of permits or licenses that are issued in error, or on the basis of incorrect, inaccurate, false, fraudulent or misrepresented information. It also institutes criminal penalties for knowingly violating the provisions of the ordinance.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "The purpose of this ordinance is to give the City's Department of Safety and Permits the authority to penalize violators that are misrepresenting permits and licenses for a variety of operational purposes. Unfortunately, our offices are often made aware of instances of fraud and prior to passage of this measure the City had no recourse against violators."
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "In recent months, the need to tighten the regulations against fraudulent permits and licenses has become very apparent. We have had several high-profile incidents that warranted tighter regulations and in some cases revocation or suspension of permits and licenses. We want to be sure that New Orleans is sufficiently regulated to ensure ordered smart business growth. "
Elected Councilmember at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson Council President
In keeping with City Council rules that alternate the role of Council President and Vice-President between the two sitting Councilmembers at-Large, Councilmember Clarkson assumed the role of Council President and Councilmember Fielkow assumed the role of Vice-President. The Council passed Motions M-11-179 and M-11-180, authored by Councilmembers Clarkson, Fielkow, Guidry, Head, Gisleson Palmer, Hedge-Morrell and Johnson electing current City Council President, Arnie Fielkow, to his new seat as City Council Vice-President; and electing current City Council Vice-President, Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, to her new seat as City Council President. Terms for both seats begin May 3, 2011 and end on May 3, 2012.
Council Vice-President Clarkson said, "I am honored to serve as President of the New Orleans City Council and look forward to taking a formal leadership role among my Council colleagues. The responsibilities and duties that I carry out on behalf of the people of New Orleans will continue to be my number one priority as I begin the new term as City Council President."
Recognized Consular Corps Members for Strengthening International Relationships
Members of the New Orleans Consular Corps representing Switzerland, Japan, Canada, among other countries appeared before the City Council to discuss and outline the duties and functions of the Consular Corps in New Orleans. The appearance was a part of City Council President Arnie Fielkow's initiative to acknowledge the contributions of the members of the Louisiana Consular Corps at City Council meetings throughout the year. The Council President commended the Consular Corps for strengthening the international relationships between the City and the countries that are a part of the New Orleans Consular Corps.
Council President Fielkow said, "The contributions of the Consular Corps to our community are immeasurable. The Corps encourages recognition of our heritage and traditions and fosters continued development of the international ties that set New Orleans apart. The City Council is grateful for all they do to enrich and strengthen our great City."
Approved Changes Recommended in Ground Transportation Bureau's System for Awarding Licenses in Pedicab Service Pilot Program
The Council passed Motion M-11-185, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, recommending changes to the Ground Transportation Bureau's proposed lottery system for awarding licenses in the Pedicab Service Pilot Program. Pedicab service was approved by the Council in September of 2010. The approval of the Council is required for all policies and procedures relative to how the Ground Transportation Bureau reviews applications and awards pedicab licenses (CPNCs). The Council provided a scoring system for awarding licenses and recommends a merit-based selection system for the pilot program.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "With the merit-based system for awarding pedicab licenses the Landrieu Administration can assure the public that the most deserving and most qualified applicants will be awarded licenses."
Supported Further Streetcar Expansion
The Council passed Resolution R-11-187, authored by Councilmember Johnson, offering full support of the proposed expansion of the Rampart St. Streetcar Line and requested the expansion goes beyond Press Street extending to the St. Bernard Parish line. The current proposed plans expand the Streetcar line to Press Street.
District "E" Councilmember Johnson said "The expansion of the Rampart Streetcar Line beyond Press Street to neighborhoods in the Lower Ninth Ward will provide access to a mode of public transportation that will greatly improve the quality of life in these communities. These neighborhoods should not be left out of potential opportunities that can economically strengthen and improve the quality of life for residents and possibly serve as an evacuation route in the event of a hurricane."
Encouraged Continuation of Road Home Property Auction
New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) Executive Director, Joyce Wilkerson, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Jasmine Haralson, appeared before the City Council to report on the April 2nd NORA / Road Home Property Auction. By year end, the State of Louisiana is expected to pass the cost of maintenance of the Road Home properties to the City of New Orleans, making it imperative to quickly dispose of these properties.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said "As Chairperson of the Disaster and Recovery Committee, I have actively requested and urged that the City auction off properties remaining in the Louisiana Land Trust inventory. I commend NORA on the success of the Road Home Property Auction and encourage future auctions in order to dispose of the Road Home properties that are still in Orleans Parish."
Officially Named and Designated Congo Square
The Council received a presentation by author and historian, Freddi Williams Evans, and passed Ordinance Calendar No. 28,411, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, to officially name and dedicate Congo Square in honor of the 18th century gatherings of enslaved Africans and free people of color that took place in the square located inside what is today known as Armstrong Park. Although popularly known as Congo Square, a name that is deeply rooted in the history of New Orleans, it previously had not been officially designated, as such. Armstrong Park and Congo Square are located in the Treme neighborhood. The park is famous for its African-American history and is part of the African-American Heritage Cultural District.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "By restoring the name, Congo Square will continue to be remembered for the birthplace of the culture and music of New Orleans. In fact, Jazz is the only truly indigenous American art form, and arguably its genesis was Congo Square, a true gift to the entire country and world."
Commemorated Vietnamese American Community
President of the Vietnamese American Community in Louisiana, Thanh Nguyen, and Representative of the Vietnamese Veterans Association of Louisiana Color Guard, Phu Nguyen presented before the City Council commemorating Saigon's fall and the arrival of a significant Vietnamese population in New Orleans.
Council President Fielkow said, "The Vietnamese American community was the first to reinvest in New Orleans Post-Katrina. They came back fast and strong. We are eternally grateful for your leadership and the message sent to all New Orleanians to come home and together we would rebuild our beloved City."
District "E" Councilmember Johnson said, "The Vietnamese American community is a thriving cultural aspect of the City of New Orleans and a significant influence in Eastern New Orleans. I am honored to join my colleagues in offering admiration and praise for the Vietnamese-American community and to acknowledge their leadership and contributions to our community."