August 14, 2014
City Council Chamber
City Council Regular Meeting News Summary August 14, 2014
Thursday, August 14, 2014 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council Meeting, the Council adopted Ordinances to transfer excess funds from NOPD to NOFD for the firefighters' pension fund and amend the City Code relative to fire safety and enforcement of Mardi Gras Parades. The Council also passed Motions to relocate official polling places in preparation for the November 4, 2014 General/Congressional election. Additionally, the Council passed Resolutions endorsing an application to the League of American Bicyclist's Bicycle Friendly Community Program and approving the disbursement of City Council/Cox Communications Louisiana's Community Grant Program funds. Two Ordinances were introduced to amend the City Code relative to for-hire vehicles.
In other business, the Council received a report from the New Orleans Police Department updating the Council and public on state and local laws pertaining to the operation of off-road vehicles, and a presentation on the 2014 Cutting Edge Music Conference and Events.
Additionally, the Council convened in Executive Session to address pending litigation:
- New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund v. City of New Orleans, Civil District Court No. 2012-061
- United States of America v. City of New Orleans, United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Docket No. 2012-01924
- Jones, ET AL v. Gusman, ET AL, United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Docket No. 2012-CV00859
Received Presentation on 2014 Cutting Edge Music Conference and EventsThe Council received a presentation from Eric Cager, Creator and Director of the Cutting Edge 2014 Conference and Events, giving an overview of the upcoming events and recognizing the conference in its 22nd year.
Cutting Edge is a music industry conference that provides educational sessions and seminars for musicians, attorneys and entertainment professionals. This year's conference will take place August 21-23 at the Intercontinental New Orleans hotel, The Historic Carver Theater and various venues near and within downtown New Orleans.
Cutting Edge will feature: Music Business Sessions; the Cutting Edge Entertainment Law Seminar; a NewWorks Showcase of daily listening sessions and shows; Roots Music Gathering, which will focus on The Historic Carver Theater and Treme; and other special events. Additionally, approximately 500 artists representing different genres are expected to perform at more than 100 venues throughout the duration of the conference.
Since its inception, the Cutting Edge conference has drawn attendees from around the world while providing performance platforms for local and national recording artists. Cutting Edge was also instrumental in the establishment of two New Orleans record labels-Basin Street Records and Louisiana Red Hot Records. The conference has also produced more than 350 hours of entertainment law.
District "C" Councilmember Ramsey said, "In a City where music is deeply embedded in our history and culture, the Cutting Edge conference is a premier event that rivals any. It consistently brings timely and relevant information to artists and professionals in the music industry. I thank and commend Eric Cager for his leadership with sustaining this program for the last two decades."
Transferred Excess Funds from the NOPD to the NOFD Firefighter's Pension FundThe Council passed Ordinance Cal. No. 30,257 allowing for a transfer of $2 million from the New Orleans Police Department's general fund operating budget to the New Orleans Fire Department's general fund operating budget for costs related to the City's firefighter pension fund.
The approved funds will be transferred from identified excess in NOPD's budget and therefore will not impact NOPD's daily operations, training, and recruitment efforts. The Council approved the ordinance to offset a portion of obligations owed to the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund while keeping the fund sustainable.
Council President Head said, "The Council took a step to satisfy a mandamus judgment in favor of the firefighters' pension system by moving surplus funds into the fire department's budget."
District "C" Councilmember Ramsey said, "Maintaining appropriate resources for our public safety departments is always a priority. The Council continues to monitor the firefighters' pension with keen oversight and in accordance with all adjudicated mandates. The Council has also been assured by the administration that this funds transfer will not impede NOPD's daily operations, officer recruitment and training, and overtime budget."
Addressed Public Safety Issues Related to Off-Road Vehicle Use
Representatives from the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) appeared before the Council to provide an overview of state laws and city ordinances pertaining to the operation of off-road vehicles and the penalties for operating such vehicles in violation of applicable laws.
The NOPD representatives emphasized that there is no area in the City of New Orleans where it is lawful to operate these vehicles. The law provides for the seizure of these vehicles when they are operated illegally. The NOPD representatives also outlined the NOPD's policy as it pertains to traffic stops, citations, and seizure of these vehicles. Councilmembers thanked the NOPD for their diligence in monitoring this issue and encouraged the State police to patrol the City's interstates for the illegal use of off-road vehicles.
District "D" Councilmember Brossett said, "We are aware that off-road vehicles have been and are being operated illegally in our City. This is an important public safety issue and we invited the NOPD here today in an effort to provide an open public discussion pertaining to the laws governing the use of these vehicles. We want to ensure that residents and visitors are informed and equipped to obey the law so that our City streets, sidewalks, and parks are safe for everyone. As we have sadly seen, this is a serious issue that we absolutely must address."
Established Relocation of Polling Places
In preparation for the November 4, 2014 General/Congressional election in Orleans Parish, the Council passed Motion M-14-313 and Motion M-14-339 establishing emergency polling relocations for 13 polling places, which have become unavailable for use or have been recommended for relocation by Clerk of Criminal District Court Arthur Morrell.
The polling location changes are as follows:
For Ward/Precincts 6/07, 7/14, and 7/15 - Official polling place will change from John McDonogh Sr. High School (2426 Esplanade Ave.) to St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Gaudet Hall (1222 N. Dorgenois St.)
For Ward/Precincts 13/01, 13/02, 13/03, 13/04, 13/05, and 13/06 - Official polling place will change from Xavier University Prep School (5116 Magazine St.) to St. Katherine Drexel Prep School (5116 Magazine St.) (Location name change only)
The Council has directed the Clerk of Council to immediately forward certified copies of the motions to the Governor of the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Secretary of State, the Clerk of Criminal District Court of Orleans Parish, the City Attorney and the Registrar of Voters for Orleans Parish for further handling.
Approved Cox Communications Community GrantsThe Council passed Resolution R-14-338 approving grants from the City Council/Cox Communications Louisiana's Community Grant Program to community and nonprofit organizations that benefit youth in the areas of education, technology training, communications and similar programs.
The Council approved over $100,000 in grant funding. The organizations receiving funding include arts and cultural associations, youth and education organizations, recreation foundations, and other groups benefiting New Orleans citizens.
The City Council/Cox Communications Louisiana's Community Grant Program was established by City Council ordinance. The ordinance specifies that the Cox Communications Louisiana, LLC grants will be issued at the direction and discretion of the City Council to qualified organizations. In December of 2011, the Council adopted a cable franchise agreement, which included the commitment of Cox Communications Louisiana to fund a Louisiana's Community Grant Program.
Each Councilmember may elect to make awards to qualifying non-profit organizations, up to a total of $20,000 in each funding cycle. After the submission of a grant application and its supporting documents, these documents are reviewed and awards are made by Council resolution. For additional information about eligibility and the application process, please visit the City Council's website.
Council Vice President Williams said, "I admire the courageous nonprofits that are working diligently to serve the youth of the City of New Orleans. This grant program is designed to provide financial support to such organizations as they work for the betterment of youth and the community."
Strengthened Safety Standards for Mardi Gras ParadesThe Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 30,261, authored by Councilmember Cantrell, to amend and reordain the City Code relative to fire safety and enforcement of Mardi Gras parades.
Specifically, the Ordinance provides for:
- Safety provisions including age restrictions and requirements for safety positioning devices for float riders and truck parade riders;
- Age and safety requirements for flambeaux carriers;
- Electrical wiring and inspection requirements for floats and truck floats;
- A maximum of 30 parade permits issued per Mardi Gras parade season; and
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "Working in cooperation with the Fire Department, we have identified areas of the Mardi Gras ordinances that are in need of stronger standards and clarification. Carnival season in New Orleans is a truly unique community celebration and we want to ensure that all of our float riders, parade participants, and spectators are safe."
- An increase in the annual registration fee to $40 per parade krewe.
Supported Application to Bicycle Friendly Community ProgramThe Council passed Resolution R-14-337, authored by Councilmember Cantrell, endorsing the New Orleans Health Department's FIT NOLA initiative to complete and submit an application to The League of American Bicyclists'Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) Program on behalf of the City and requesting that The League designate New Orleans as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the City's tricentennial in 2018.
Founded in 1880, The League's mission is to create a bicycle friendly America by representing bicyclists and advocating for safer roads, stronger communities and greater bicycling standards and best practices throughout the nation. New Orleans was previously recognized by The League as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community in 2013.
FIT NOLA is the New Orleans Health Department's comprehensive initiative to become one of the top 10 fittest cities by 2018 and aligns with First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative to reduce childhood obesity. FIT NOLA is seeking the Gold Bicycle Friendly Community recognition from The League, which is awarded to communities that have a strong biking culture and are working to enhance their biking networks or to reach more children through Safe Routes to School program.
The Council supports a bicycle friendly New Orleans and region and continues to work with neighboring parishes and the state government to promote the usage of bicycling for transportation and recreational purposes. The Council's commitment to these objectives is evidenced in the New Century New Orleans Master Plan and the New Orleans 2030-A Master Plan for the 21st Century, both of which provide plans for improved bicycle infrastructure and a city-wide network of bicycle routes.
The City Department of Public Works, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the Regional Planning Commission, designed and implemented the Greater New Orleans Pedestrian & Bicycle Program and will have constructed more than 100 miles of bikeway by the end of 2014.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "It is important that we continue to support improvements to bicycle infrastructure and innovation. New Orleans is a bicycle friendly community and understands the value that this mode of transportation brings to our quality of life, health and mobility."
Introduced Ordinances to Amend City Code Relative to For-Hire VehiclesThe Council introduced Ordinance Calendar No. 30,296, authored by Councilmember Brossett, to amend the City Code relative to applicable definitions, operating parameters, certificate of public necessity and convenience (CPNC) qualifications, and establishment of travel rates for limousines.
As it pertains to limousines, the Ordinance suggests amendments to the City Code to require that CPNCs be classified as Class A (traditional limousine service) or Class B (modern, moderately-priced luxury sedan or SUV service).
Additionally, the Council introduced Ordinance Calendar No. 30,298, authored by Councilmember Brossett, to amend the City Code relative to specific penalties for for-hire vehicle violations and defining transportation network entities and transportation network services.
The Ordinance suggests amendments to the City Code to:
- Define "Transportation Network Entity" as any company or other entity that uses a software application or other online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal, non-commercial vehicles;
- Prohibit unauthorized for-hire operations (often called "rideshare"); and
Both of these ordinances are expected to be voted on by the Council in September.
- Delineate penalties, fines, and enforcement options, including booting and impoundment, pertaining to illegal operators.
District "D" Councilmember Brossett said, "Online technologies are the wave of the future and an important feature of our daily lives. We look forward to welcoming new ways of doing business and these ordinances will allow us to embrace a new facet of the for-hire vehicle industry, while ensuring that our existing transportation industry is properly maintained and regulated."