June 19, 2018

District A, Joseph I. Giarrusso

District "A" Newsletter - June 2018

District "A" Newsletter - June 2018


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you as your City Councilmember for District A. This first month has been an incredible learning experience for my staff and me as we’ve heard your concerns at neighborhood association meetings, and through your calls, emails, and letters. 

As expected, problems with the Sewerage and Water Board billing and coordination with the Department of Public Works on catch basin cleaning and street repairs are the most common complaints we receive. We’ve also worked on burned out street lights, missing street signs, duplicate tax payments, blight, and myriad other constituent complaints. Please continue to call and write my office with your issues so we can help you get the information or action you need from the appropriate city department. 

As chair of the Public Works Committee, I am committed following through on my promise to hold the Sewerage and Water Board accountable to you, the taxpayers and customers. We will also work on improving coordination and communication between the Department of Public Works and other city agencies and utilities. But I also plan to have a forward-looking committee, working in tandem with the Utilities and Smart Cities committees to address green infrastructure and efficiency issues. 

Each month I’ll send a newsletter to let you know what we’ve been working on and what’s coming up at the Council and in the district. This month I’ll introduce you to my amazing staff and update you on two of my major policy priorities: improving Sewerage and Water Board and reevaluating Short Term Rental policies. 

Please sign up for my newsletter here and also follow me on social media at @cmgiarrusso on Facebook and Twitter. 



Gordon Mcleod, Chief of Staff 

Gordon brings a wealth of institutional knowledge as he previously served as Councilmember Susan Guidry’s Chief of Staff. He’s the office expert on land use, so he will be my primary staff on all zoning, HDLC and NCDAC issues, and the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. Gordon has a Master’s Degree in historic preservation from the Tulane University School of Architecture and a Bachelor’s Degree in historic preservation and city planning from the College of Charleston. 

Amanda Rizzo, Constituent Services Director 

You may have met Amanda at a campaign event or at your neighborhood meeting. Since I took office, she has served as the main point of contact for residents with Sewerage and Water Board problems, potholes, clogged catch basins, parking, and other complaints. Before joining my staff, Amanda was a practicing attorney, representing clients in civil matters. She graduated from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University. 

Ashley M. Spears, Legislative Director 

Ashley joins the District A staff from the District Attorney’s Office, where she worked as the trial attorney for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative unit as well as a Senior Trial Attorney. As Legislative Director she will draft ordinances, motions, and resolutions and will assist me in developing policy to improve quality of life in District A. Ashley is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in legal communication from Howard University. 

Katie Baudouin, Communications Director 

Katie joins my staff from the office of former Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head, where she served as a policy advisor. She will be responsible for all official communication from my office and will be the main point of contact for news media. She also manages the office social media. Katie earned a Master’s Degree in public administration from Louisiana State University and studied sociology at Loyola University New Orleans. 

Nina Killeen, Special Projects Director 

Nina previously worked on special projects for Former Clerk of Court Dale Atkins. In the District A office, she will serve as the main point of contact for Harrah’s and Cox Community Grants and will assist Amanda on constituent issues. Nina is a native New Orleanian and attended Loyola University New Orleans. 

Stephen Bateman, Intern 

Stephen is a student at Arizona University working towards a Master’s Degree in Government and Public Policy with a focus in International Security Studies. He’s helping to set up office systems and helping to follow up on constituent issues. He served for six years in the United States Army, four as an Army Ranger.


Sewerage and Water Board

My first meeting as Chair of the Public Works, Sanitation, and Environment Committee will be held on Monday, June 25 starting at 9:00 a.m. in the Council Chamber. Among my goals for this committee is to closely evaluate the performance of the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) and to hold the utility accountable for the promises they make to the council and services they are required to provide to you, their customers. I hope you will follow closely the work this committee engages in and keep in touch about other issues we need to focus on. 

During this meeting, the committee will hear from both the S&WB and the Department of Public Works. We expect to hear from both agencies how they plan to coordinate better on infrastructure maintenance under this new administration. We will also review the latest quarterly report from the S&WB and, unlike in previous meetings, we will be taking a deep dive into the report, going section by section and asking for clarification or additional information from both agencies. Many of the questions we’ve already shared with the S&WB, via a letter my colleagues and I sent on May 10, are questions and concerns all members of the Council have heard from our constituents. 

I encourage all residents to attend this committee meeting and provide us with public comment based on your own personal experiences with the S&WB. For those unable to attend, please visit our website for live video coverage of the meeting here.

Short-Term Rentals 

On May 24, the City Council voted to approve two motions designed to press pause on some Short-Term Rentals (STRs) while we, as a council, get a handle on the impact of the regulations the previous council passed last year have had on our neighborhoods. 

During this pause, we’ve asked the City Planning Commission (CPC) to study STRs more deeply. This work is already being done by the CPC, but we’re asking them to go further. We want to know how STRs are affecting our neighbors and our neighborhoods, whether there are ways we can use caps to improve quality of life in neighborhoods, and if we can increase fees and enforcement to better fund the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (NHIF) to support more affordable housing in New Orleans. 

In January 2018 there had been as many as 3,800 licenses issued. That’s 9-10 licenses issued per day issued in less than a year. It’s time to think about where we want to go from here. For me, this is about achieving balance. We understand that STRs are an emerging phenomenon, but first and foremost, we must preserve our neighborhoods. 

I join Councilmember Palmer in encouraging residents to participate in the STR Public Hearing on STRs scheduled for Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 3 p.m. The public hearing will follow the CPCs regular zoning meeting on July 10 at 1:30 p.m. with public comments expected to begin at 3 p.m. The CPC announced the hearing will end within two hours or until the last speaker. Written comments may be submitted to the CPC Executive Director in advance by mail before Monday, August 20 to 1300 Perdido Street, 7th Floor, New Orleans, LA 70112, or by email at

Blight Reduction

On June 7, I introduced an ordinance that, if passed, will improve the blight hearing process. The goal is to reduce the time it takes to get blighted properties through the adjudication process. The new streamlined process will allow the city to schedule cost hearings and to record liens quicker. The changes do not affect due process or notification requirements, it simply removes an unnecessary delay. I am hopeful that I will get the support of my colleagues on this legislation and that neighborhoods will see a positive change as a result.

To view the District "A" June 2018 newsletter in its entirety, click here.

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