January 28, 2021 10:00 AM
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City Council Regular Meeting News Summary January 28, 2021
NEW ORLEANS - At today’s regular meeting, the City Council appointed Donna Glapion as interim Councilmember-At-Large for the remainder of former Councilmember Jason Williams’ term, implemented significant updates to the City’s disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program, approved a text amendment and zoning change to clarify definitions and uses of “Dwelling, Established Multi-Family” and “Dwelling, Established Two-Family” in the City's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO), and a separate text amendment to include tattoo parlors within the personal service establishment use.
Additionally, the Council approved several measures to assist in its regulation and oversight of Entergy New Orleans (ENO), permanently relocated alternate polling locations implemented as part of the City's COVID-19 Emergency Election Plan, and adopted a resolution urging local media to be more specific when reporting on crime.
Donna Glapion Selected as Interim Councilmember-At-Large
Following the conclusion of the application process to fill its vacant Division 2 At-Large position, the Council voted to appoint Donna Glapion via Motion M-21-40. She will serve the remainder of former Councilmember and newly-elected District Attorney Jason Williams’ term.
Prior to the vote, Council President Helena Moreno described the necessary qualities to perform the duties of this role, stressing the importance of being in tune with the needs and concerns of New Orleanians citywide and the willingness to be hands-on in addressing them. Serving as a member of the City Council brings great responsibility, pressure and public scrutiny.
“This was a difficult choice, but at the end of the day, Donna Glapion hit all of the criteria I was looking for regarding commitment to serving the people of this city and understanding the tough job ahead. I am so proud that Donna has been appointed unanimously as the interim Councilmember. She is a dedicated community leader with experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and I'm confident that she will be a tremendous asset to the Council and the people of this city,” said Councilmember Moreno.
No stranger to City Hall, Donna Glapion accepted her very first job in the early 1990s as an Administrative Aid to Dorothy Mae Taylor, the first African American woman to serve on the City Council and the first elected to the Louisiana State Legislature. Glapion will be officially sworn in tomorrow in a private ceremony and will begin work immediately.
“My preparation began more than 25 years ago in the Office of the Honorable Dorothy Mae Taylor, the first African American woman elected to the office of Councilperson-At-Large for the City of New Orleans. And, until today, the only to ever serve in this capacity," said Councilmember-nominee Glapion. "My past work, managing people, information, resources and funds in private, corporate, and academic settings, along with my most recent work in direct service to children and families here in New Orleans and across the state has prepared me for both the legislative and constituent focuses of this work. I pledge 100% effort in service to the people of New Orleans.”
Council Takes Steps to Simplify DBE Program to Better Serve Minority-Owned Businesses
The Council approved Ordinance 33,225 to amend and reordain Chapter 70, Article IV, Division 2 of the City Code in its entirety in order to rename, restructure, and simplify the City’s DBE program. The ordinance provides applicable definitions, equity goals, contracting and reporting requirements, and implementation guidelines to increase the program’s effectiveness and address deeply-rooted economic disparities faced by local minority-owned businesses.
Key updates and improvements to the program include:
- Requiring the City to maintain a public registry of all businesses or individuals through the Equitable Business Opportunities (EBO) Program;
- Setting an overall equity goal of 35% for public contracts awarded by City agencies, boards and commissions;
- Requiring the City’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to submit EBO program reports to the Council by October 15 of each year; and
- Requiring each City agency, board and commission submit annual reports to the Council by October 1 of each year.
Any City agency that is unable to meet the 35% equity goal will be required to submit a detailed explanation as to why they failed to do so as well as a plan outlining the steps being taken to meet the requirement as part of their annual EBO report to the Council.
“This ordinance to restructure our DBE program – and rename it our Equitable Business Opportunities Program will help to keep funding in our city and support our minority and women-owned businesses,” said District “E” Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen, who co-authored the ordinance alongside Councilmember Moreno. “In creating processes for more transparency and reporting, we will be able to better track our progress towards the goal of increasing the percentage of funding that stays in our own communities.”
The new and improved program will help the City be more deliberate and intentional in its approach to public contracts and support for the local DBE community. While the Council has taken great strides toward equity and inclusion through symbolic efforts such as street renaming, this ordinance will have a tangible impact by putting the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure New Orleans is a place where minority-owned businesses can compete and grow.
Confirmation of Independent Consultant and Other Items Relative to Entergy Oversight
With its approval of M-21-34, the Council authorized President Helena Moreno to sign a contract with GDS Associates, Inc. to serve as an independent demand-side management consultant following a thorough request for qualifications and proposals (RFQ/P) process. GDS Associates, Inc. will be tasked with conducting a demand-side management potential study and reporting its findings to the Council to assist in its oversight and regulation of Entergy as the City’s electric utility provider.
The Council also adopted two resolutions pertaining to its supervision and assessment of ENO. Resolution R-21-37 initiates a 30-day period to submit public comments in response to the Alliance for Affordable Energy and Sierra Club’s Motion to examine costs associated with the New Orleans Power Station (NOPS). At the conclusion of the comment period, the Council’s Utilities Regulatory Office and advisors will review all submissions the provide the Council with a recommendation as to whether or not it should initiate a prudence investigation into the design and construction of the NOPS.
As part of its ongoing efforts to address the needs of residents through increased renewable resources, the Council previously adopted Resolution R-19-111 establishing rules for community solar projects in New Orleans and directing ENO to develop an implementation plan, including details on the program’s administration, relevant tariffs, application procedures, and more. In response to comments and feedback submitted by the Council’s advisors on its first draft of the plan, ENO filed its Supplemental Implementation Plan in January 2020 with several requested revisions. The latest draft of the plan has been deemed compliant with the Community Solar Rules outlined in R-19-111 and was formally approved by the Council today via Resolution R-21-38.
Council Calls Upon Local Media for Specificity in Crime Coverage
The Council adopted Resolution R-21-44, encouraging members of the media to be more specific when referring to incidents or crime in New Orleans rather than blanket terminology that may result in unjust stigmas. Recent crime coverage, particularly in New Orleans East, tends to ignore the rich racial, cultural and socio-economic diversity of the area, instead broadly characterizing all crime events east of the Industrial Canal as occurring in “New Orleans East.”
These types of blanket references in negative news stories create the false impression that this entire community is unsafe and at risk. New Orleans East spans nearly ⅔ of the geographical area of New Orleans, stretching from the densely populated neighborhoods around the canal to rural Lake Catherine. The categorical stigmatization of “the East” by local news outlets can have widespread detrimental impacts such as dissuading community investments, eroding civic pride, and erecting increased barriers to economic development in the neighborhoods that need it most.
Therefore, the Council is calling upon local media to be mindful of these potentially damaging effects and reference individual neighborhoods, subdivisions, and/or intersections when reporting criminal activity.
Alternate COVID-19 Polling Locations Made Permanent Through 2021
The Council passed Motion M-21-35 to permanently relocate the following alternate polling locations implemented as part of the City's COVID-19 Emergency Election Plan:
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New Orleans City Council