March 14, 2019 10:00 AM
City Council Chamber
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NEW ORLEANS - At today's regular meeting, the Council established the Entergy Penalty Settlement Fund, received a presentation from bicycle advocates and adopted a resolution calling for expedited bicycle safety measures, approved two items to support the local art community, adopted a resolution encouraging the City to host a Ticket Amnesty Day, and approved a series of ordinances relative to wireless franchises.
Additionally, the Council recognized and thanked WWL-TV Chief Meteorologist Carl Arredondo for his years of service to the people of New Orleans, heard from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Gilbert Montano with updates on the City's comprehensive sexual harassment policy, and received presentations from the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans honoring Executive Director Sharree Walls, and Stem Library Lab discussing the organization's work to provide high-quality, active learning opportunities for all children.
Members of the Council recognizing WWL-TV Chief Meteorologist Carl Arredondo (L) and CAO Montano and City officials presenting sexual harassment updates (R)
Council and Bicycle Advocates Call for Swift Action to Increase Safety
As today's first special order of business, the Council received a presentation from Bike Easy Executive Director Dan Favre and representatives of Ghost Bikes stressing the need for immediate and equitable policies to improve bicycle safety after the tragic crash that occurred on Esplanade Avenue over Mardi Gras.
Following the presentation, the Council adopted a corresponding resolution calling for the immediate adoption of an updated and comprehensive Complete Streets Policy, increased enforcement and educational efforts for those sharing the roadways, and designation of sections of streets for a weekly car-free day. The resolution also requested a presentation to the Transportation Committee within 120 days to report on the progress of bicycle safety updates and improvements.
"There are words, and then there is action. We must properly honor the legacies of people who have lost their lives by acting quickly, intelligently, and creatively," said Council President Jason Williams. "Other cities around the world have figured out a way to ensure bicyclists and motorists can live safely together. Car-free zones and days can make our thoroughfares safer. These will encourage people to get out of their cars, get on bikes, get on foot, and really engage with each other. New Orleans is a beautiful place, and the fact that our government hasn't done enough to protect those trying to see it the way it should be seen is unacceptable."
Bicycle advocates and supporters giving a standing ovation during today's bicycle safety order of business (L) and Bike Easy Executive Director Dan Favre and Ghost Bikes presenting to the Council (R)
Penalty Settlement Fund Established to Receive $5M Fine from Entergy
The Council unanimously approved Ordinance Calendar No. 32,581 to create the Entergy Penalty Settlement Fund. The ordinance establishes a separate fund to receive and hold the $5 million fine imposed on Entergy by the Council following the independent investigation into the New Orleans Power Station (NOPS) approval process last year.
In October 2018, the Council brought forth a sanctions resolution containing a historic $5 million fine for Entergy along with other required corrective procedures. At the last regular meeting on Feb. 28, 2019, the Council adopted Resolution R-19-78 imposing sanctions, cost protections and other safety modifications for Entergy relative to the NOPS, culminating ongoing efforts by the Council to assess and respond to the misconduct that was brought to light and later confirmed by third-party investigators.
The ordinance adopted today does not allocate the use of the $5 million settlement. However, it states that once the settlement is received, the Council will appropriate the money to the Council's budget with subsequent budget ordinances. The monies received in the Entergy Penalty Settlement Fund will remain there until released/transferred by the Council.
"The establishment of this fund is an important step toward ensuring that the money we acquire from Entergy through this fine is used only for the direct benefit of our residents in critical areas where they need it most," said District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett. "As Budget Committee Chair, I will remain committed to identifying those needs and designating this funding as strategically and effectively as possible to address them.
Councilmember Brossett discussing the Entergy Penalty Settlement Fund Ordinance
Council Calls for Citywide Ticket Amnesty Day
The Council adopted Resolution R-19-94 strongly encouraging the Mayor to host a one-time Ticket Amnesty Day to allow residents to resolve overdue camera and parking tickets at reduced rates. Per the resolution, the Council believes a Ticket Amnesty Day will create pathways to compliance rather than barriers, and increase revenue for the City while easing the financial burden on New Orleanians.
Wireless Franchise Ordinances Approved
The Council approved a series of ordinances (32,524; 32,564; 32,565; and 32,566) relative to wireless franchises and permits to construct and maintain a wireless broadband network. These ordinances provide a uniform and comprehensive set of regulations and standards for franchising, development, siting, installation, design, operation, and maintenance of wireless facilities in the city's public right-of-way. Additionally, they provide for the administration and oversight of franchises and necessary standards to ensure maximum public benefit.
Council Approves Measures to Support Local Art Community
The Council approved Zoning Docket No. 11/19 amending the City's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) to create a less burdensome application process for those wishing to erect murals in New Orleans. The text amendment will streamline the lengthy and unnecessarily convoluted permitting process to facilitate the installation of murals citywide.
Prior to the vote, the Council heard from Alphonse Smith, Director of Place and Civic Design for the Arts Council of New Orleans, voicing the organization's support of the zoning change and the positive impact it will have on the city's art community.
A local mural by Brandan "BMike" Odums on Dauphine Street courtesy of NOLA.com
The Council also approved Ordinance No. 32,582, which dedicates capital funds for works of art. The ordinance provides for 1.5 percent of all future appropriations for eligible capital projects to be dedicated to the acquisition of art in the city. Art and architecture significantly affect the lives of New Orleans residents, and therefore, the Council believes it should be integrated fully into everyday life. This investment in public art will enhance productive activity, social benefits, and community engagement.