March 15, 2012
City Council Chamber
City Council March 15, 2012 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - March 15, 2012 - Today, the New Orleans City Council passed resolutions supporting Louisiana House and Senate Bills strengthening ethics reform and requesting that the State of Louisiana and the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals study the feasibility of establishing a regional mental health clinic.
The Council also passed a resolution approving the issuance of bonds to be used to build a rail spur extension off the Public Belt Railroad along the Industrial Canal.
In other action, the Council introduced an ordinance to impact noise issues in the Vieux Carre Historic District and the Central Business District and adopted an ordinance requiring that City construction contractors and subcontractors with contracts above $50,000 report any federal, state and municipal labor and employment violations to the City Attorney.
The Council commended retired long-time business leader Calvin Moret, for his dedication and service with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and recognized Delgado Community College's 90th Anniversary. Special acknowledgement was given to Clerk of Council, Peggy Lewis, for her recent inauguration as President of the Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association. A proclamation was issued by the Council honoring Jericho Road Executive Director Brad Powers for his work with the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative.
Supported Orleans and Jefferson Parish Legislative Ethics Reform Effort
The Council passed Resolution R-12-88, co-authored by Council President Clarkson and Councilmember Guidry, supporting a State House Bill sponsored by Orleans Parish Representative Jared Brossett and the companion Senate Bill introduced by Jefferson Parish Senator Conrad Appel, which will be introduced in the current Louisiana Legislative Session. The Council fully supports the measures that will strengthen the offices of Inspector General in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The bill provides the Office of Inspector General (OIG) with a more efficient subpoena process and protects sensitive information during the course of an audit, evaluation, inspection, or investigation. In 2006, the City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to create the OIG Office. In 2007, the Council amended the law giving the OIG administrative subpoena power and by resolution requested the Governor and the legislature provide the local OIG's and Ethics Boards subpoena power and confidentiality protections.
Council President Clarkson said, "Ethics reform is integral to a strong and transparent government and ensures fair, effective and efficient services are provided to citizens. We fully support these state legislative bills that will strengthen in-place reforms and further rejuvenated public faith and trust in government."
Requested State Study Establishing Regional Mental Health Clinic
The Council passed Resolution R-12-76, authored by Council President Clarkson, which requests that the State of Louisiana and the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals study the feasibility of establishing a regional mental health clinic to augment the City's currently overwhelmed outpatient health facilities. Currently the burden of care and treatment falls to community-based outpatient services that are not well equipped to treat individuals with serious mental illnesses. During the first five years of the City's recovery from Hurricane Katrina, a variety of mental health care professionals reported in articles and discussed in news media reports that many citizens who had returned to the City had some type of anxiety mood disorder and 30% experienced post traumatic stress disorder. Currently, with traditional health care systems in disarray or non-existent, citizens with chemical and systemic mental health issues prior to Hurricane Katrina have essentially had almost no mental health care services available to them.
Council President Clarkson said, "It is of the utmost importance that we work quickly and efficiently to solve our current mental healthcare crisis on a short term basis. Simultaneously and beyond the immediate fix, we need to think in terms of a long term solution with a Metropolitan Mental Health Center which would take inefficient, ineffective use of state funds and refurbish them into state of the art inpatient care. New Orleans and the Metro Area deserve better from the State of Louisiana and it is our responsibility to bring this use of state funds to the attention of the Governor."
Introduced Loudspeaker Placement Ordinance Impacting French Quarter and CBD
The Council introduced Ordinance Calendar No. 28, 967, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, which establishes the placement and orientation of loudspeakers inside commercial enterprises, as defined in the ordinance, in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) and the Central Business District (CBD). The ordinance was vetted through the noise ordinance working group (formed in 2010 by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer and Mayor Landrieu). The working group of business and residential associations have endorsed the ordinance which was originally submitted to Councilmember Gisleson Palmer by the Bourbon Street Business Alliance. It has also received endorsement from the French Quarter Management District, the French Quarter Business Alliance, the Vieux Carré Property Owners, the French Quarter Citizens Association and residents. The ordinance will be vetted through the Sanitation and Environmental Committee in late March and will be up for adoption on April 5th.
District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, "The proposed ordinance is a first step towards updating and improving the existing noise abatement program ordinance under Chapter 66 of the City Code. Our goal is to balance the needs and concerns of the neighborhoods and businesses."
Approved 1.5 Million Bond Issuance for the Public Belt Railroad
The Council passed Resolution R-12-76, co-authored by Councilmembers Johnson, Hedge-Morrell, and Gisleson Palmer, which approved the Public Belt Railroad issuance of 1.5 Million in bonds to be used to build a rail spur extension off the Public Belt Railroad along the Industrial Canal. The spur will be constructed over land leased by Transportation Consultants Inc. (TCI) for company expansion. TCI will reimburse the Public Belt Railroad Commission for any costs incurred prior to the project and will also pay all costs for the project. Costs will not exceed $1.5 Million and interest rates will not exceed 5.3% annum. All public improvements have been estimated and guaranteed by TCI.
District "E" Councilmember Johnson said, "This is a win-win for the City and an outstanding example of public-private cooperation and collaboration. This project also demonstrates the opportunities for companies to operate and grow in these important and economically strategic swaths of the City."
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "The building of a rail spur off the Public Belt Railroad along the Industrial Canal is a strong example of economic development and progress. This project is being paid for by Transportation Consultants, Inc, a private company and a good corporate citizen. TCI is contributing to important business growth in an area of the City that needs and welcomes development."
Congratulated Clerk of Council Peggy Lewis as New President of LMCA
At the request of Council President Clarkson, Council Clerk Peggy Lewis appeared before the Council. Ms. Lewis was recognized by Councilmembers and colleagues for becoming the statewide President of the Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association (LMCA). Lewis has been the Clerk of the City Council since August of 2002. Her leadership activities with the LMCA began in 2006 when she was first elected to the Executive Board. In subsequent years, she served in high ranking positions as Public Relations Officer, Secretary Treasurer, and most recently in 2011 as Vice President. Lewis was recently sworn as President at the LMCA annual Spring Conference held in New Orleans.
Council President Clarkson said, "The New Orleans City Council is privileged to recognize our Clerk of Council Peggy Lewis on her new title as LMCA Statewide President. Peggy's work with the Council is outstanding. Her enthusiasm, commitment and leadership are incomparable. She serves us with distinction and she will do a tremendous job leading the LMCA as its President."
Adopted Labor and Employment Reporting Requirement on City Construction Contracts
The Council adopted Ordinance Cal. No. 28,899, authored by Council Vice President Granderson that requires that contractors and subcontractors with city construction contracts of more than $50,000 report to the City Attorney any current company violations of federal, state and municipal laws that govern labor and employment. Specifically, the contractor is required to give notice to the City Attorney within 90 days of the issuance of any labor violation determination. If the contractor fails to correct the violation within a 90 day period the City Attorney will issue a written notice to the contractor and take enforcement action including civil remedies.
Vice President Granderson said, "This is very simply a reporting requirement. The requirement assists the City Attorney to determine if the City is involved in contractual obligations with any company that is in violation of labor and employment laws."
Recognized Delgado Community College 90th Anniversary
At the request of Councilmember Guidry, Deborah Lea, Interim Chancellor of Delgado Community College, appeared before the Council. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of Delgado Community College. Since its opening in 1921, Delgado has continued to serve men and women of all ages throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area. Delgado is a comprehensive, multi-campus community college and a major institution of higher education in the State of Louisiana. Together with its seven locations and over 20,000 enrolled students, Delgado forms a center for professional and advanced technology career education, academic pre-baccalaureate education, and traditional occupational training.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "Since 1921, Delgado has been a vital part of the New Orleans education system. This institution has provided thousand of students with important skills and proficiencies needed to find employment and begin careers. The Council congratulates Delgado on an amazing 90 years and pledges our support in all of your educational programs and community activities."
Honored Tuskegee Airman Calvin Moret
At the request of Councilmember Hedge-Morrell and Councilmember Johnson, Tuskegee Airman, Calvin Moret a long-time local business owner appeared before the Council. Moret is one of the last surviving New Orleans Members of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II and were the first pilots in the United States military. Moret trained at the Tuskegee Institute in 1943 and 1944, and was commissioned as a Flight Officer in November 1944. In 2007, he received the Congressional Gold Medal which is one of the highest civilian awards bestowed upon by the United States Congress to an individual who performs an outstanding act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. Currently, Moret's oral history of his service with the Tuskegee Airmen is featured at the National World War II Museum.
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "I am honored to recognize Calvin Moret for his dedication and service with the Tuskegee Airmen. He is a true war hero. In addition to his World War II activities, Mr. Moret and his family have contributed to the economic and social fabric of New Orleans for generations. He is a beloved institution and a role model for all of us."
District "E" Councilmember Johnson said, "The Tuskegee Airmen played a vital role in World War II. I am proud to say that one of our own native New Orleanians was a part of such an outstanding group of Americans. Mr. Moret's dedication and service to the United States and his contributions to New Orleans will never be forgotten."
Acknowledged Accomplishments of Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative Executive Director
At the request of Councilmember Head, Brad Powers, Executive Director of Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, received a Council proclamation recognizing his visionary leadership and accomplishments in the areas of housing and community development in the Central City Neighborhood. Since 2006, under Powers' leadership, Jericho Road has invested over 5 million dollars in the Central City Neighborhood. The organization has built and sold 25 energy efficient, universally designed affordable homes, reduced neighborhood blight impacting 75 properties across Central City and build neighborhood leaders. Powers is Jericho Road's founding Executive Director. He is leaving his position to continue policy study in the area of urban affairs. Powers will attend Tulane University and begin work in the new City, Culture, and Community Ph.D. Program that includes an emphasis on urban studies.
District "B" Councilmember Stacy Head said, "Mr. Powers' work with Jericho Road is an outstanding example of how to approach the revitalization of a neighborhood. He has worked tirelessly to impact blight, resident leadership and affordable housing issues that have presented obstacles to making Central City the great neighborhood it should be. His intellect and passion has made a difference in our community."