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City Council Regular Meeting News Summary January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

NEW ORLEANS - At today's City Council meeting, the Council recognized and congratulated the Edna Karr and Landry-Walker High School football teams on winning their respective Louisiana Football State Championships. The Council also heard special presentations from representatives of the Ekhaya Youth Project, the Faubourg Tremé Association, the Tremé Festival Committee and St. Augustine Church.

In addition, the Council passed a bail reform ordinance, honored family and friends of legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint, passed amendments pertaining to the Uptown and Carrollton Local Historic Districts, approved the creation of an Environmental Advisory Committee, and deferred a vote on fee waiver reform.



Honored Edna Karr and Landry-Walker Football Teams

Today, the Council recognized the Edna Karr and Landry-Walker football teams, who brought an overwhelming sense of pride and respect to the Algiers community following their LHSAA state championship victories on December 10, 2016. 

The Council heard presentations from representatives of both teams, including Landry-Walker Head Coach Emanuel Powell and Edna Karr Head Coach Brice Brown.

Additionally, a resolution was unanimously adopted, which expressed the Council's support for naming Dec. 10 as Algiers Champions Day in the City of New Orleans. 

"Today I introduced a First Order of Business to honor the Edna Karr and Landry-Walker High School football teams for their state championship wins," said District "C" Councilmember Ramsey. "Additionally, I sponsored a resolution to recognize December 10, 2016, as Algiers Champions Day. These young men are role models in the community, and their grit and determination will take them far in life. We applaud their commitment and sacrifice."

Both teams beat two of the most revered football schools in the state with Karr reigning victorious in the 4A over Neville, and Landry-Walker defeating West Monroe in the 5A. The win marked Landry-Walker's first-ever state championship in football.

"Young men you are champions and nobody can ever take that away from you," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "This is what every news channel should be covering today. If one of you is doing any little thing wrong in this community, they put you on the front page. This is why you should be on every front page in this city. When you're a student-athlete, that means you're getting it done in the classroom so that you're able to have the opportunity to get it done on the field. The discipline you learn on the field, can take you to corporate America, law firms, and even the White House. I am so proud of what you all have done and am even more excited for what you will do in the future."

"You all have not only been victorious as state champions, but within yourselves," said District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett. "You all stuck together to reach this point, and you should be very, very proud of yourselves as I am. What you learned over this football season, will run with you throughout your lifetime. In the workplace you will face obstacles, in society, you will face obstacles, but I commend each and every one of you for what you've accomplished this year. Congratulations."

"I just want to say to all of you here today: Keep standing tall, keep being that light, because the only thing that can ever drive out darkness wherever it is, is the light," said District "B" Councilmember Cantrell. "That's something you displayed this season."

Following the remarks of her fellow Councilmembers, Councilmember Ramsey presented the Council with a brief video clip of the two teams at the LHSAA State Championships in the Superdome and invited everyone to join her Saturday in Algiers for the Parade of Champions at 10 a.m.

 

Received Presentation from the Ekhaya Youth Project

The Council received a special presentation by representatives of the Ekhaya Youth Project, a 501C3 support organization dedicated to empowering families and youth experiencing emotional and behavioral health challenges across the state. 

CEO Darrin Harris and COO Vanshawn Branch spoke to the Council on the history of the organization, its mission, and upcoming events like Annual UMT Leadership Retreat.

In May of 2011, Ekhaya Youth Project was founded on a pilot grant from HUD to house 25 unsheltered transition-aged youth, ages 18-25, and provide intensive case management services. 

Ekhaya Youth Project has provided Life Skills Training throughout the state of Louisiana since 2007 and has received funding from the Louisiana Department of Education, Rockefeller Philanthropy Foundation, and Peyton Manning's Peyback Foundation. Ekhaya has served over 1,000 youth through its Life Skills Training Program.

"Something that keeps re-occurring is that parents don't always know how to access the services available to them," said Councilmember Cantrell. "Thank you so much for being so proactive in our community and offering these programs and services to those who so desperately need them."

 

Heard a Report Detailing the Success of the 2nd Annual Tremé Fall Festival

Today, the Council heard a presentation from the Faubourg Tremé Association, Tremé Festival Committee representatives and a representative from St. Augustine Church on the successful 2nd Annual Tremé Fall Festival.

This year's festival, which took place the weekend of September 30, 2016, benefitted St. Augustine Church in addition to helping other non-profits in the community with historical significance. The event was largely reported to have gone off "without a hitch."

 

Passed Bail Reform Ordinance

Today, the Council unanimously voted to amend the Code of the City of New Orleans relative to bail from the Municipal and Traffic Courts of New Orleans. The bail reform ordinance was initially designed to allow people who've been arrested for relatively minor crimes to be released without posting bail on a promise to appear in court. The Council's unanimous vote today came after the Criminal Justice Committee failed to move the ordinance out of committee in September, following a tie vote.

 Introduced by Councilmember Susan Guidry in September, the ordinance was developed to address the concern among various legal and civil rights groups that the existing bail system for minor offenses unfairly punishes poor defendants. 

The amendment package was developed following the motion's inability to garner enough support from the Criminal Justice Committee of the Council.

"Looking at the amendments to the ordinance, I trust that we've made it acceptable to more of our community," said Councilmember Guidry. I just hope that this relieves the burden and pressure on our jails. We've ended up in a vicious cycle of debt because of this."

I am proud to have supported the passage of the bail reform ordinance, which reorganizes how and when bonds are set for municipal offenses," said Councilmember Ramsey. "This ordinance demonstrates how the City benefits when the Councilmembers work together to pass laws that protect the safety and rights of every citizen.  These reforms take an important step to address the disparities in the criminal justice system that disproportionately affects the poor and those with mental health and addiction problems.   New Orleans has a high incarceration rate compared to the rest of the nation and even the world.  We heard the voices and the stories of those who have been adversely affected. Anything that we can do to lessen this occurrence, especially for those who have committed non-violent offenses, is a step in the right direction. At the same time, it is important that our Criminal Court Judges maintain the authority necessary to evaluate cases on an individual basis when the defendant demonstrates a continual disregard for the rule of law and the safety of our citizens, thus requiring more stringent handling."

Councilmember Williams, who initially opposed the ordinance over concerns the plan would not provide enough scrutiny for those accused of domestic violence, but who worked on the amendment package, expressed his support today. 

"Whether you look at it from a historical standpoint or walk over to Municipal Court and eyeball it yourself, most of the folks in there are black people, most of the folks in there are poor people," said Councilmember Williams. "In this country, black, poor folks have been marginalized and been made to bear the largest cost. The system we have has a corrosive impact on our community as a whole. The poorest people in the City are paying for the system. This effort is an effort to undo that and fix something that's been in place for too long. The matter of repeat offenses has been addressed. The Chief of Police has worked with us to put out a new software system where individuals in a cycle of domestic violence, the police department will have a way of marking and flagging those unique scenarios, so others aren't caught up in a system where they're waiting to be released. We've worked hard to make sure this system helps those it's intended to help."

"This ordinance is a step in the right direction," said Councilmember James A. Gray II. "There's a lot more that needs to be done, but this is a huge victory. We grew up in the same communities, walked the streets with the same people you did. Without a doubt, you have a City Council committed to making people's lives better. This city can't progress with so many of our people tied up in the criminal justice system. The Council may have passed this bail initiative, but all of you worked hard to make this bail ordinance a reality. You deserve the credit. Congratulations to you."

"Back in July I filed a bail reform ordinance," said Councilmember Brossett. "My goal and my intent has always been to address the austerities in the jail system. I encourage and challenge all of you to make that extra step to Baton Rouge and make sure you get in front of those legislators. Today, I am glad to join in support as I pass a vote to reform the bail systems with the greater hope to impact state law, which absolutely must change."

"I think this will tremendously benefit the taxpayers of New Orleans," said Councilmember Guidry. "We'll no longer be paying to make people sit in jail, for crimes they've not yet been convicted of. I want to thank all those who supported us along this road over the last year. This shows the community and the rest of the country that we're on the cutting-edge of reform here."

 

Point of Personal Privilege Honoring Allen Toussaint

At the request of Councilmember Guidry, the Council honored friends and family of the late Allen Toussaint and presented them with the resolution, which was passed January 7, 2016, declaring January 14 as Allen Toussaint day in the City of New Orleans. 

"It's hard to believe that it's been a little over a year since the death of Allen Toussaint on November 10, 2015 and a year since my colleagues and I declared January 14th Allen Toussaint Day in The City of New Orleans," said District "A" Councilmember Guidry. "This year's Allen Toussaint Day anniversary will take place this Saturday, and I hope all of you remember Allen in your own special way, but today, we would like to pay our special tribute to this remarkable, songwriter, composer, musician and human being."

Following her introduction, Councilmember Guidry introduced a brief tribute video honoring Toussaint's life and legacy and asked that his son and daughter address the Council in his memory.

"As time passes, you lose track of business leaders, politicians, even athletes," said District "E" Councilmember Gray. "But you'll never forget the great musician who wrote songs that were the soundtrack of your daily life:  'Lipstick Traces,' 'Mother-in-law,' 'It's Raining' and 'Southern Nights.' Your father will live on in the hearts of New Orleanians forever. Thank you so much for being here today."

"I lost my father as well almost 20 years ago," said District "B" Councilmember Cantrell. "It's something you carry with you always, but our people live through us. I think that this is an opportunity for us to re-dedicate ourselves and our efforts to show love to musicians that keep the history of New Orleans alive in this world."

 

Passed Amendments to Uptown and Carrollton Local Historic Districts

The Council voted to pass several amendments to the creation of the Uptown and Carrollton Local Historic Districts. 

The Historic Preservation Study Committee Report of April 2016, recommended the creation of the Uptown Local Historic District with boundaries to include the area generally bounded by the Mississippi River, Lowerline Street, South Claiborne Avenue and Louisiana Avenue, and the creation of the Carrollton Local Historic District with boundaries to include the area generally bounded by Lowerline Street, the Mississippi River, the Jefferson Parish line, Earhart Boulevard, Vendome Place, Nashville Avenue and South Claiborne Avenue.

As amended, the ordinance will grant the Historic Landmarks Commission jurisdiction over demolitions within said districts. The Council voted to delete the words "demolition by neglect" from the ordinance. 

"Demolition by Neglect" is the term used to describe a situation in which a property owner intentionally allows a historic property to suffer severe deterioration, potentially beyond the point of repair. Also, an effective date of March 1, 2017, was added.

 

Established Environmental Advisory Committee

The Council unanimously voted to set up an Environmental Advisory Committee of technical experts and community leaders to advise the Council on policy to forward the City's resiliency and climate action strategy.

"I'd like to thank the partner organizations and my colleagues on the Council that have worked with me to create this Environmental Advisory Committee," said Councilmember Ramsey. "It will provide the Council with valuable technical advice on issues such as waste reduction, recycling, and electric vehicle use." 

The Council heard comment from members of the public applauding the creation of the committee. Among them was LifeCity CEO Liz Shephard, who worked with Councilmember Ramsey to promote America Recycles Day.

 

Deferred Vote on Fee Waiver Reform

The Council deferred their vote on revisions to the municipal code for fee waiver allowances to discount certain kinds of fees while eliminating the ad hoc fee waiver system.

At the last City Council meeting on December 15, 2016, Councilmember Head introduced four ordinances to change the fee waivers system in New Orleans. Two ordinances propose to adjust the special event fees that will be charged. If passed, special event fees will be reduced across the board and further discounted at least 50 percent for nonprofit organizations. Additionally, the ad hoc fee waiver system will be eliminated.  

The remaining two are budget ordinances, which conservatively estimate the additional revenue these reforms will generate and appropriate the additional revenue to council priorities not included in the budget adopted on November 17. 

Following discussion amongst the Council, the vote was deferred until the next meeting on January 26, 2017. 

 

 
  
 

Honored Edna Karr and Landry-Walker Football Teams

Received Presentation from the Ekhaya Youth Project

Heard a Report Detailing the Success of the 2nd Annual Tremé Fall Festival

Passed Bail Reform Ordinance

Point of Personal Privilege Honoring Allen Toussaint

Passed Amendments to Uptown and Carrollton Local Historic Districts

Established Environmental Advisory Committee

Deferred Vote on Fee Waiver Reform

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