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Making a Blueprint

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With a political question mark hanging over its head, the privately funded Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO) presents two public forums aimed at tackling the city's most vexing issues.

The CBNO is scheduled to conduct its first public hearing on its "Blueprint for the Future of New Orleans" at 6 p.m. Mon., July 15, at the Arthur Ashe Cultural Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Community activist Barbara Major, co-chair of the CBNO, will direct the first forum.

Alden McDonald, president of Liberty Bank & Trust and economic development chair of the committee, will present the panel's report on economic development beginning at 6 p.m. Thurs., July 19, at the Delgado Community College, 615 City Park Ave., in the Student Life Center's Lac Maurepas Room.

The Committee, a diverse group of 140 New Orleanians, has taken pride in its ability to keep politics out of its 18-month-long study process. But Joe Canizaro, a developer, co-chair and key financial backer of the committee, has not closed the door on endorsing political candidates to advance the panel's agenda on housing, race relations, economic development and other issues.

"He hasn't closed the door but we are moving toward merging with another nonprofit that would broaden the base of the committee and would not be involved in any type of partisan politics," CBNO spokesman Bill Rouselle says. He declined to elaborate on the merger but says it would allow the CBNO to "publicize those candidates who have endorsed the agenda."

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