July 23, 2015
City Council Chamber
City Council July 23, 2015 Regular Meeting News Summary
Thursday, July 23, 2015 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council meeting, the Council passed a resolution opposing the rerouting of freight train traffic from the "Back Belt" to the "Middle Belt" line and requesting the New Orleans Rail Gateway Program (NORGP) to explore alternative options that do not jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the community. The Council also passed a resolution to encourage people of all races to know the symptoms of mental health illness and to seek treatment, and to encourage the media and community to engage in de-stigmatizing behavioral health while establishing behavioral health treatment as an essential part of overall health and well being.
In other business, the Council received presentations on an initiative to empower youth by providing culinary job training and employment opportunities, as well as the enforcement of and appropriate penalties for violations of the minimum age requirement for French Quarter dancers.
Opposed Rerouting of Freight Train Traffic
Coalition United Against the Middle Belt Option
Chairman, Rev. Earl Williams with members of the Coalition
The Council unanimously passed Resolution No. R-15-323, opposing the rerouting of freight traffic from the "Back Belt" to the "Middle Belt" line and requesting the New Orleans Rail Gateway Program (NORGP) explore alternative options that do not jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the community.
NORGP planners are conducting a study of, among other things, the feasibility of diverting all freight traffic through New Orleans from the "Back Belt" line in Old Metairie to the "Middle Belt" line, which runs through four residential New Orleans neighborhoods: Hollygrove, Hollygrove-Dixon, Palm Air and Mid-City. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development estimates that 32 freight trains pass through the "Back Belt" line daily and that freight traffic will increase by 57% by 2020. The rerouting of increased freight traffic through residential areas will present substantial threats to public well-being including air and noise pollution, increased vehicle and pedestrian accidents as well as potential for hazardous material accidents due to derailments. District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "Re-routing high-volume freight rail traffic through Hollygrove, Hollygrove-Dixon, Palm Air, and Mid-City would have potentially devastating effects on public safety and quality of life in these neighborhoods. This resolution asserts our strong opposition to the study of this possibility. I would like to thank my colleagues for their support, and I would like to recognize the incredible advocacy work that has been done by the citizen leaders of the Coalition United Against the Middle Belt Option."
Recognized July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
|NAMI Board Members Chantrelle Jarnado-Johnson and Rhonda Lee with NAMI Fundraising Director Meghan Goldbeck |
speaking before the Council
The Council passed Resolution No. R-15-320, co-authored by Councilmembers Cantrell and Gray to encourage people of all races to know the symptoms of mental health illness and to seek treatment, and to encourage the media and community to engage in de-stigmatizing behavioral health while establishing behavioral health treatment as an essential part of overall health and well being.
Today, 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness related issues within any given year, but many of these issues will go untreated. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), 40 percent of caucasians with mental illness will seek mental health treatment and only 25 percent of African Americans and Latinos with mental illness will seek treatment. Untreated mental illnesses can lead to disastrous societal outcomes such as homelessness, family trauma, crime, and substance abuse.
In other business, the Council recognized by proclamation that July is the Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Bebe Moore Campbell was a New York Times Best Selling Author whose work contained a strong focus on mental illness and its effects on family life. Campbell was a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and a founding member of NAMI-Inglewood.District "B" Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, "Many of the challenges we see in our community such as chronic homelessness, repeated family trauma, crime and addiction are results of untreated mental health issues and the stigmas about treatment. We must find a way to further develop and expand mental health services to ensure that our community reaches its fullest potential."
Received Presentation on Council District "C" Youth Culinary Employment Initiative
|Councilmember Ramsey with Liberty's Kitchen |
Representatives and Restauranteur Zeid Ammari
The Council received a presentation from Restauranteur and Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts Chief Operating Officer Zeid Ammari and Liberty's Kitchen Executive Director David Emond regarding their engagement in a Council District "C" initiative to empower youth by providing culinary job training and employment opportunities. Liberty's Kitchen is a non-profit organization that helps young people access futures that are healthy and sustainable, enabling them to achieve personal and economic independence in adulthood. Through Liberty's Kitchen programs, youth participate in attainment-based training, progressing through different levels of achievement, and motivating and offering students a sense of accomplishment upon completion of the program. Many of the graduates are able to find employment in restaurants throughout the city, including those owned by Zeid Ammari.
District "C" Councilmember Ramsey said, "By educating and empowering our youth, I believe we can effect positive change in the community. I would like to see all of our young people develop the skills necessary to become productive members of the community. On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank Liberty's Kitchen for its innovative programs helping young people shape their lives and Zeid Ammari for his willingness to engage and participate in the initiative."
Covenant House's Jim Kelly Addressed the Council Regarding At-Risk Young Women
Covenant House Executive Director Jim Kelly addressed the Council regarding at-risk young women. Specifically, Kelly discussed the enforcement of and appropriate penalties for violations of the minimum age requirement for French Quarter dancers. City Ordinance requires that the minimum age for French Quarter dancers is 21. In his remarks, Kelly cited recent events that demonstrate some clubs are not following the age requirement. He urged greater enforcement of the age requirement due to the risk of young women becoming victims of human trafficking and encouraged the Council to create harsher penalties for clubs that violate the age requirement.
|Covenant House Exec. Director Jim Kelly addressing the Council|
Covenant House provides a safe haven for homeless and at-risk youth ages 16-21. Its Crisis Center serves approximately 100 youth a night with a hot meal, clothes, a bed and counselors that assist the youth in finding jobs and housing, as well as the transition into independent living.
Council President Williams said, "To avoid unfortunate circumstances, attention should be paid to the law already in place. Greater enforcement will ensure better protection for women."