New Orleans City Council District A News

 Project NOLA                

Project NOLA received a $10,000 grant from the Westway Group, LLC – a leading provider of bulk liquid storage for agricultural products, oils, and chemicals across the globe – to install 40 crime cameras in the Leonidas neighborhood of New Orleans. Once installed, these cameras will become part of Project NOLA’s growing citywide network of high-definition crime cameras.
I am delighted for the Leonidas area residents. As Chair of the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, I have been a big supporter of Project NOLA’s work, and have assisted other communities in my district with obtaining crime cameras through Project NOLA. These forty cameras will drastically increase security in the vibrant Leonidas neighborhood. My sincerest thanks go out to the Westway Group for their generous donation and to Project NOLA for its commitment to public safety.

 Sanitation Changes

 

The city estimates it lost $1.3 million this year to property owners who didn’t pay for trash pick-up.  The council recently voted to authorize the Sewerage & Water Board to shut off water service to properties not paying the sanitation fees.

 

A $24 sanitation fee appears on property owners’ S&WB bills each month. The Council passed amendments that would ensure property owners in danger of having their water shut off are mailed notices and given enough time to get on a payment plan.

 

The City will begin an education campaign before enforcement of the sanitation fees begins in Spring 2014.  A reduced sanitation rate of $10 is available for low-income, elderly or disabled residents.  To be eligible, residents must be 65 years or older and meet low income household income standards established by HUD.  For more information and to sign up, residents can call 3-1-1. According to the S&WB, about 1,400 residents are involved in the program.

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Oaks on the Bayou
I was glad to be part of the “Restore the Bayou Canopy Campaign” tree planting ceremony on Bayou St. John. On Saturday, November 16th, we celebrated the planting along the Bayou of one 300-gallon live oak and two massive 670-gallon live oaks.
 
Through the non-profit Mothership Foundation, this campaign has raised $30,000 to re-plant Oaks lost in Hurricanes Katrina and Issac. Earlier this year, the Foundation planted five new 200-gallon live oak trees.  The Foundation also brought renowned tree sculptor Martin Miller to New Orleans last year to turn an oak on the bayou that had been struck by lightning and died into a beautiful work of art we will all enjoy.

Dear Residents and Friends of District A,

Following three long weeks of intense hearings, the Council recently adopted the City’s operating budget for 2014.  As the Chair of the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, I feel that it is critical for the City to continue using the budget as a means for reforming our criminal justice system into one that is more effective, efficient and equitable.

Some of the top public safety priorities that we successfully addressed are the declining number of officers on our police force, reducing violence on our streets, and the projected costs of compliance for both the NOPD and OPP consent decrees.  The Council provided funding for five NOPD recruit classes, which will allow us to add up to 150 new police officers next year.  We also ensured that every NOPD officer’s salary has full funding, meaning that the department will be able to replace any officer who leaves the force during the year.  The adopted budget for NOPD consent decree compliance costs includes funding for 100 new police cars, body cameras for all officers and a court monitor.  Additionally, we provided funding for a new 2nd District Police Station.

 

The Council also supported Mayor Landrieu’s violence reduction strategy, NOLA for Life, that targets those youths in our community who are at the greatest risk of killing or being killed.  In the first full year of NOLA for Life’s implementation, the City has seen a 25-percent drop in the number of homicides.  While there are still far too many murders, this is nonetheless a promising start, and we felt that it was important to continue investing in these programs.

 

The Council held three separate budget hearings on the expected costs of the OPP consent decree.  While everyone agrees that the consent decree will result in significant additional costs to the Sheriff’s Office and City, we also heard from experts on ways to reduce spending within the jail system so that the overall financial impact of the consent decree will be minimized.  This includes reducing our pretrial jail population by investing in the City’s pretrial services program for another year. We expect that the Sheriff and Administration will work together to implement the experts’ other cost cutting recommendations as quickly as possible.

 

The 2014 budget also includes funding to help address a number of quality-of-life issues facing our residents. At my urging, the Council provided money for Traffic Engineering to hire additional staff to help improve traffic patterns and flow.  We’ve also allocated funds to establish a City-wide sign replacement program and continued funding to repair and replace streetlights, including converting many to energy-efficient LED and induction lighting.  The Council recently passed two major ordinances to improve the City’s ability to combat blight across the City, and in the budget provided Code Enforcement with funds to hire additional researchers, inspectors and hearing officers that will help return blighted properties back to commerce as quickly as possible. 

We provided funding for park and playground improvements,  including Conrad Park, Fleur de Lis Park and Willie Hall Playground in District A.

While we certainly face some significant financial challenges in the coming year, this budget continues moving us in the right direction through its focus on improving public safety and our citizens’ quality of life.

 Awards and Recognitions

 

I was honored to be recognized by the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) on Friday, November 15th, for my work as the Chair of the City Council Criminal Justice Committee in advocating for a fair and effective criminal justice system and advancing system reform.

On December 5th, I was also honored by Global Green USA/New Orleans  for my work  on the City’s Utility Committee and my advocacy of energy efficiency for our citizens.

I am proud to have overseen the coordination of the City’s energy efficiency programs, Energy Smart and NOLA Wise, and the merger of these programs.  These programs help residential and commercial property owners and renters save energy and energy costs and created green jobs for our citizens.

I continue to work to weave these programs into the permanent plan for our city’s energy future, the Integrated Resource Plan.

 

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