Category: City Council

Racism in NOLA City Council Race?

Eugene Green announced today (Monday, January 23, 2012) that he is dropping out of the March 24 election for Arnie Fielkow’s vacated City Council seat. The reasons? Racism. What else could he possibly mean by this comment, other than racism?

“I’m willing to defer my aspirations in the interest of enhancing the opportunity for a qualified African-American candidate to do well in this election”

This is appalling. While I am not necessarily calling Mr. Green a racist, his comments are unacceptably so. A week ago today we observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and now, instead of wishing to enhance the opportunity for the most qualified candidate to do well in the election, as Dr. King dreamed of, Green would rather the best “African-American candidate” do well.

How can we hope to approach the issues that challenge our city and region when the candidates themselves still frame their worldview around race? Obviously, we can’t. Mr. Green, I implore you to broaden your worldview beyond race and instead, desire our city’s leaders to be the most qualified, competent, and visionary regardless of their race.

Who’s Running for City Council?

This Wednesday-Friday qualifying is open for the March 24, 2012 Municipal Primary, which includes the remaining 2 years of Arnie Fielkow’s open At-Large City Council seat. To qualify, you only need be a New Orleans resident for the previous 2 years, pay a $375 fee (plus an additional $375 if you’re running as a Democrat or Republican), or present a 1,000 signature nominating petition. You’ll need to take this form with you to the Criminal District Court Clerk of Court office at 2700 Tulane Ave to register. I have mulled over running myself, but can’t do it this time around.

So, who’s going to run? According to the Times-Picayune we already have 3 declared candidates; Austin Badon, Eugene Green, and Stacy Head. In other words, carbon copies of the current makeup of the Council. One major talking point is the historical precedent of one At-Large seat being held by a white individual and one held by a black individual. That has not been the case since 2007. I hope that this outright racial behavior can finally be buried in New Orleans and the candidate elected is chosen solely based on perceived merit, not race. I guess we shall see. To all you libertarian leaning Nolatarian’s out there, hopefully we can make some noise in this election and start moving the scales back to a more limited city government and hopefully with a like-minded candidate of our own.

Councilwoman Palmer Shreds 4th Amendment

I think we’re all in agreement that the shootings that occurred on Halloween night were bad. Yes? We can also agree that the French Quarter, in particular Bourbon and Canal St are heavily populated not only with partygoers, but also many members of NOPD on particularly festive nights. Also, from experience, we know that occasionally some ignorant, angry person decides that the best way to avenge his disagreement is to open fire on that person in public regardless of who else may be around.

Apparently though we have different ideas about what can be done to prevent these occurrences. My District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer stated today that she would like to see us abandon even more of our 4th Amendment rights to the NOPD. The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” It’s bad enough that Louisiana law already allows this right to be infringed upon inside bars, but Palmer’s proposal would allow the police to search anyone within 50 ft of a bar, or Alcohol Beverage Outlet (ABO), for firearms. First, this is ridiculous and would solve nothing. Second, this is ridiculous and could (and probably would, if history tells us anything) be extremely abused.

As the story of the Bourbon St shooting has come to light it’s obvious that Palmer’s proposal would have done absolutely nothing to prevent this shooting unless Marvin Carter had just happened to be loitering outside of a bar waiting for his victim. So please, let us avoid the spectacle of a public hearing and the city having to defend itself in court when it is sued for the unconstitutionality of this motion. Councilwoman Palmer, drop this motion and instead focus on the efforts already underway to address our city’s “culture of violence.” Thank you.

If You Tax It, They Will Come

Another item on our October 22 ballots is a proposal to extend a 20 mill tax on the New Orleans Regional Business Park in New Orleans East. The business park has existed since 1979 and the 20 mill tax funds about 1/3 of the $600,000 budget for the park which is home to a modest (in context of the praise it receives) 85 businesses. Only the businesses are effected by the tax. The major tenants are Folgers Coffee, Entergy, and NASA’s Michoud facility. Unsurprisingly the New Orleans City Council, lead by Jon Johnson who’s district includes the park, announced their unanimous support for this today.

Now I don’t know Councilman Jon Johnson personally, nor do I live in his district, but if I were given the chance to ask him a question, it would be this. What part of economics and common business sense says that if you add an extra special tax to an area you hope more businesses will move to, then naturally, the businesses will magically beat down your door to move in? That’s essentially what he’s saying here and here.

Instead, I offer another idea. Let’s all vote against the renewal of the tax and see what the existing businesses do to expand with the $220,000 they’ll save all together and maybe we’ll finally see some of that promised growth in the New Orleans Regional Business Park that we’ve been hearing about since 1979.

Also found in the Eggler piece is a gem of a paraphrase of Johnson, “he is heartened by the fact there appears to be no organized opposition to the renewal. In the absence of an opposition campaign, he said, tax renewals normally pass, especially if the vast majority of those voting don’t have to pay the tax.” Councilman Johnson, are you using typical New Orleans voter apathy as proof that this is a good idea? I wish I could say I was surprised. Well, while I may be late to the party in becoming an organized “opposition campaign” I am going on the record now as being just that.

NOLA City Council Thrown Strike Down Middle For Strike 2

Recently, I wrote about the New Orleans City Council’s misguided efforts to pass a motion on May 19 to explore banning medium-box retail stores, like Dollar General, in Gentilly and New Orleans East in favor of major retail chains. One of my questions for the Council was who these mysterious major retailers searching in vain for real estate were.

Well, yesterday, August 31, 2011, gave us an update. Now, while this property falls in Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s district, I find it curious that she voted in favor of the motion supporting the medium-box retail ban and is now shrugging at the opportunity to champion the Costco opportunity in the high traffic Carrollton corridor. Rather than spearhead a potential boost to her district through ~300 new jobs, increased tax revenues (even from Jefferson Parish), more options for consumers, and a welcome major reduction of property eyesore, she instead would prefer to see “the number of parking spaces reduced and other small retailers brought to the site” and provides the typical politicianspeak of “I’m not at this time a proponent or an opponent, I told them to reach out to the neighborhoods.” So, which is it Guidry? Do you want large retailers as you voted for in May, or small retailers (oh, remember those terrible dollar stores Guidry voted against? there happens to be a Family Dollar just down the street)? And if twice meeting with you, the elected representative of THOSE neighborhoods, isn’t reaching out to the neighborhoods. Then what is?

Come on, lets recognize this as a welcome addition to an awful stretch of Carrollton and move on with bulk quantity deals and cheap gas to boot. Also, if Susan Guidry can’t manage to support this getting done in her own district, then citizens of District A do yourselves a favor and elect someone who at least admits to wanting to.