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City Council Special Meeting News Summary November 16, 2017

November 16, 2017

At the regular meeting on November 16, 2017, the New Orleans City Council approved City Council/Harrah's Community Support Grant funds, approved appointments and reappointments by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to the Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) and other organizations, established a "Judgment Fund" to ensure the availability of funds for the payment of legal judgments rendered against the City, and passed a measure to extend the effectiveness of Ordinance No. 26,921, which created the "Adult Live Performance Venue Interim Zoning District." Additionally, the Council authorized the issuance and advertisement of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a public safety consultant, adopted a resolution supporting the Federal Historic Tax Credit program, approved the 2017 French Market Corporation budget with an additional $1.1 million for renovations to the Moonwalk Project, and passed an ordinance to permit commercial advertising on City-approved bike share stations.

As special orders of business, the Council heard from the Black and Blue Theater Project recognizing the life and career of 83-year-old NOPD Deputy Superintendent Yvonne Bechet and honored hip-hop legends D.J. Jubilee and Partners N' Crime for 25 years in the entertainment industry and for inspiring the inner-city children of New Orleans. To kick off the meeting, the Council received a special performance of the National Anthem from another New Orleans musical icon, Denisia.



Approval of Council/Harrah's Community Support Grant Funds

The Council approved Resolution R-17-570 to approve City Council/Harrah's Community Support Grant funds per each Council district, subject to each organization's eligibility.

The City Council/Harrah's Community Support Grants Program was established on March 17, 2006, to support local organizations and projects within Orleans Parish that contribute substantially to the well-being, development and growth of the community.

The Council is eligible to receive Harrah's grant funds semi-annually in the months of June and November, amounting to $225,000 a year ($16,071 semi-annually per Councilmember). Any funds not awarded at the end of the year will be rolled forward into the subsequent year. Funding is limited to not more than 50 percent of the total budget for an existing organization/project and not more than 25 percent of the total budget for a start-up organization or new project.

Harrah's grant funds cannot be used for political activities, or for programs which are operated by or take place in primary/secondary education institutions. Requests should be submitted to individual Councilmembers' offices.

For a full list of grant fund recipients, click here.

 

Sewerage & Water Board Appointments Confirmed

The Council approved several motions to ratify, confirm and approve appointments and reappointments by Mayor Landrieu to the S&WB (2) and other organizations including the following:
  • Board of Zoning Adjustments (2)
  • Audubon Commission (1)
  • New Orleans Aviation Board (1)
  • City Planning Commission (1)
  • Metropolitan Human Services District (2)
  • Board of Building Standards and Appeals (1)
The Council passed Motion M-17-575 approving the Mayor's appointment of Andrew Amacker (vice Scott Jacobs) as a member of the S&WB for a term that expires on June 30, 2020, and Motion M-17-576 approving the appointment of Lewis Stirling III (vice Kerri Kane) as a member of the S&WB for a term that expires on June 30, 2021.

 

Bike Share Program Advertising Approved

The Council unanimously approved an ordinance authored by District "D" Councilmember Brossett to amend the Code of the City of New Orleans relative to the display of unauthorized signs, signals, or markings, to permit commercial advertising on City-approved bike share stations. Councilmember Brossett has worked alongside the City for more than a year in preparation for the launch of its first bike share program (Blue Bikes NOLA) early next month. The launch will consist of a preliminary 70 stations and 700 bicycles. Eventually, City officials said the program will expand to 90 stations and 900 bikes in designated locations throughout the CIty. Dwight Norton, Urban Mobility Coordinator for the City of New Orleans, attended the meeting to speak to the Council on the matter. According to Norton, sponsor-related advertising located on Blue Bikes waiting areas and rental stations will be relatively small and will have to be approved by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee.

 

"Judgment Fund" Established to Remedy Outstanding Legal Judgments Backlog

The Council voted to establish a new, dedicated fund known as the "Judgment Fund," to dedicate certain funds for the payment of legal judgments rendered against the City. This initiative will allow the City to begin to alleviate more than $40 million in judgments owed to individuals and groups who have successfully sued the City dating back more than 20 years. The required minimum annual balance of the fund will be $2,000,000 on January 1 of each fiscal year and will be dedicated solely to assisting in the payment of legal judgments rendered against the City by state courts. Funds will come from revenues received from state court judgments rendered in favor of the City supplemented by available revenues as needed to maintain the required balance.

 

Council Authorizes RFQ for Public Safety Consultant

The Council voted in favor of a motion authorizing the issuance and advertisement of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a public safety consultant. As stated in Motion M-17-526, public safety is a vital function of local government and is critical to the City's success. With its passing, the Council has expressed its intent to retain a public safety consultant to provide expertise and assess efficiency opportunities with the primary goal of to make New Orleans a safer place. Council President Jason Williams says, "Public safety accounts for the lion's share of our budget each year because it is the paramount issue for all of our families. That budget grows bigger every year but we are not getting better outcomes, incidents of crime are not relenting. We cannot continue to just throw money at the problem. We need to be strategic and surgical. We cannot be afraid to try new approaches. We also have to meticulously track all data to ensure that our dollars are spent wisely and yielding the dividends promised. As the Council demands that other branches of government, agencies and departments use data and best practices to rethink the way they do things, we the city council need to do the same." "As our criminal justice agencies continue to evolve to a place where policies and overall culture align with national best practices, we need to take aggressive action to foster this growth and make responsible investments. With this expert analyst, we will have the ability to gather and analyze data from all of our criminal justice agencies, learn how the data of one agency influences the next, and how that inter-agency information can be better communicated between silos." With this effort, the Council hopes to institutionalize the need for evolution. It represents a very big step toward a more collaborative process in which the Council will work together and alongside other government agencies and community partners to ensure informed decision-making when it comes to spending public money. "In regards to public safety, I fully believe in building upon the spirit of collaboration so that these decisions aren't coming solely from the Mayor," said District "B" Councilmember LaToya Cantrell. "This will force us to work together as a team to make this City safer because we still haven't seen a real impact from the systems we have in place now. This represents a great step in the right direction for this Council and entire City of New Orleans." Councilmember Williams went on saying, "We have a window right now in our state to push hard and make real strides in improving our criminal justice system. The people of the city deserve better, the children of this city should be able to ride their bikes around our neighborhoods without fear."

 

Additional Funding Approved for Moonwalk Project Renovations

The Council will consider a motion to approve the Operating Budget of the French Market Corporation for the year 2017 with an additional $1.1 million in funding for Moonwalk Project renovations. In summer of 2017, the French Market Corporation awarded Dynamic Constructors a $2.95 million contract to renovate the Moonwalk on the City's waterfront.

The renovations include shade trees and wide staircases that lead to the river. This additional funding will allow the overhauled Moonwalk to become the French Quarter's showcase piece for the City's upcoming tricentennial celebration in 2018.

Photo rendering courtesy of NOLA.com

 

 
  
 

Approval of Council/Harrah's Community Support Grant Funds

Sewerage & Water Board Appointments Confirmed

Bike Share Program Advertising Approved

"Judgment Fund" Established to Remedy Outstanding Legal Judgments Backlog

Council Authorizes RFQ for Public Safety Consultant

Additional Funding Approved for Moonwalk Project Renovations

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Information presented by the New Orleans City CouncilDavid S. Gavlinski, Interim Chief of StaffCouncil Information (504) 658-1000Clerk of Council (504) 658-1085
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