At today's regular meeting, the Council received a presentation from InspireNOLA Charter Schools on the detrimental effects of gun violence and held a peace rally outside City Hall, approved an ordinance to strengthen opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), adopted a resolution in support of free speech, approved a measure to prevent the depositing of harmful materials into city drainage systems, and passed a motion initiating a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process to obtain professional consultants to advise the Council on Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) issues.
Students and Councilmembers Speak out Against Gun Violence
For today's first special order of business, the Council welcomed student leaders from InspireNOLA Charter Network to speak on the devastating effects of gun violence in their schools and surrounding communities following the recent shooting death of 15-year-old Eleanor McMain student Chance Smith. Following the order of business inside the Chamber, the Council joined hundreds of high school students, teachers and advocates from across the city for a peace rally on the front steps of City Hall.
"The young people rallying today from schools across New Orleans are experiencing gun violence first hand," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "I stand with them. I am inspired by them; they are the change they wish to see in the world. All the children of this city are our children to listen to, support and protect."
Both students and Councilmembers spoke on their own personal experiences with gun violence and stressed the need for reforms and partnerships. District "C" Councilmember Kristin Palmer suggested the students who presented today form an advisory committee to serve as allies to the Council as they continue to work together to combat the gun violence that has plagued the city for far too long.
"Seeing hundreds of young people from across the city coming together to raise awareness about gun violence and gun safety inspires me and should give us all hope that we can change the status quo," said Councilmember Palmer. "This is an opportunity to urge everyone in our communities to keep fighting for change and the right to be safe from gun violence. I vow to work with the Administration, the police department and my colleagues on the Council to come up with solutions to tackle this alarming and urgent issue in our city."
Ordinance Passes to Improve Compliance of DBE Requirements
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to strengthen compliance for DBE participation in professional contracts awarded by the Council. This ordinance aligns the Council with DBE requirements that currently exist for contracts awarded by the City, and will help ensure citywide inclusion and opportunity so that all can benefit from business coming from the City of New Orleans.
"I believe strongly in building a more equitable New Orleans where everyone has the opportunity to compete and win business in order to create jobs and grow wealth," said Councilmember Moreno. "Today, I am so proud to move this ordinance forward to promote equity within our own house, the City Council. This measure will equalize and codify goals previously applied to the executive branch and ensure DBEs in New Orleans have the opportunity to grow and compete by working with us on the Council."
Council Approves Measures to Protect City Drainage Systems
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prevent the depositing of harmful materials into city drainage systems. The law focuses on preventing the obstruction and depositing of harmful materials (including construction/demolition debris, hazardous liquids, refuse/garbage) into catch basins and drainage canals, and increases penalties to serve as a greater deterrence for interfering with the free flow of drainage throughout the city. These measures will bring New Orleans in line with stricter requirements and penalties for dumping in surrounding parishes, and greatly reduce the city's risk of flooding.
"We are all responsible for improving quality of life in New Orleans," said District "A" Councilmember Joe Giarrusso. "These changes provide additional tools to the city to ensure that not only do our public spaces look good, but our drainage system functions as well as possible."
RFQ Process Initiated to Obtain S&WB Consultants
The Council passed a motion to initiate an RFQ process to retain legal, technical and financial consultants to advise and represent the Council on matters involving the S&WB. Motion M-18-401, which was unanimously approved by the Public Works Committee at the meeting on Sept. 17, represents ongoing efforts by the Council to remedy issues within the S&WB.
"This Council has taken great strides in battling various issues within the S&WB, but there's much work yet to be done," said Councilmember Brossett. "This motion will finally provide us with the critical expertise we need to review, address and alleviate ongoing concerns and ensure the utility is better equipped to serve the needs of the city's residents."
Applicants interested in responding to the RFQ should be highly qualified, experienced and well-versed in citywide water, drainage, sewerage and attendant issues.
Council Affirms Support of First Amendment Right to Free Speech
Following the recent decision, and later retraction, of Kenner's Mayor to ban Nike products, the Council adopted a resolution expressing unequivocal support of the First Amendment, and vow to uphold it, even if its standpoints differ from those around it. Resolution R-18-402 states that the First Amendment right to freedom of speech belongs not just to those in a majority opinion, but to every American. All booster clubs should be allowed to purchase, utilize and wear their desired brand of clothing while at any New Orleans facility.