New Orleans voters will decide the fate of a proposed City Charter change to restructure the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) by establishing a new commission to oversee city recreation sites and programs, eliminate the Department of Recreation and "redefine" the functions of the Department of Parks and Parkways. It's the oft-mentioned "public-private partnership" of NORD, and it's a priority of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and many other city officials. How is it playing with citizens? A survey of 600 "chronic voters" by New Orleans pollster Silas Lee during the week of Aug. 2 found the following:
• Only 3 percent of voters gave the current incarnation of NORD a performance rating of "excellent," while 36 percent ranked it "poor."
• When it came to funding NOPD, sanitation, NORD, health and "providing recreation programs for youth," funding NORD was seen as the lowest budget priority among white voters, and the second-lowest among black voters. Lee concludes that voters support funding youth recreation programs — but not necessarily using NORD as the conduit.
• On the charter referendum, 55 percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably vote for it; 23 percent would definitely or probably vote against it.
• More than 80 percent of both black and white voters said it was important that appointments to the new commission be transparent, and Lee concluded the selection "has the potential to be the Achilles' heel for this initiative if voters perceive the presence of favoritism."
The poll's margin of error is 3 percent. — Kevin Allman