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1:10: 10 things you need to know this week in New Orleans: November 17, 2015

The Louisiana gubernatorial election, Sister Helen Prejean, The Cure and … Allen Toussaint Circle?


1. Normand: I'll turn over tapes to FBI
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said last week his office had audio and video evidence that Wes Bearden, a Dallas-based private investigator hired by Sen. David Vitter's gubernatorial campaign, had attempted to influence an unnamed woman to discredit American Zombie blogger Jason Brad Berry, who had published videos and stories tying Vitter to former prostitute Wendy Ellis. Normand said the video evidence his office obtained includes Bearden asking a woman sign an affidavit stating that Berry had paid Ellis for her testimony. Berry has denied paying anyone.

  The video evidence was found on a spy camera disguised as an iPhone that Normand's deputies seized last month from Bearden operative Robert Frenzel, who surreptitiously taped a coffee shop meeting between Normand, private investigator Danny DeNoux, lawyer John Cummings and state Sen. Danny Martiny, a Normand ally and attorney for the sheriff's office.

  Last week, Vitter said Frenzel "was researching a serious matter, what I believe was an illegal scheme, between a business associate and major donor of John Bel Edwards and a private investigator to pay for false testimony from witnesses against me." Vitter said he had referred the matter to the feds. Normand said he was doing the same with his own evidence, and referred to Frenzel as "Mr. Magoo." Normand's investigators met with the FBI on Nov. 12.

2. Juice box hero
"I'll give you a ribbon for participation — and a juice box." — Gov. Bobby Jindal to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, referencing Christie's claim of shrinking government in his state. Christie didn't react, but the Jindal campaign saw it as a great line, sending out a fundraising email emphasizing the quip and adding, "Bobby crushed it."

3. UNO poll bad news for Jindal, Vitter
A University of New Orleans Survey Research Center poll of 600 likely voters found Gov. Bobby Jindal's disapproval rating at 70 percent statewide — an all-time high. Among Republicans, it was 55 percent. In the governor's race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards led Sen. David Vitter, 56 percent to 34 percent. "The conventional wisdom is that Edwards would need at least 30 percent of whites to vote for him to be victorious," said pollster Dr. Ed Chervenak. "According to our survey, it appears that he has not only met that threshold, but has exceeded it." The poll was taken Nov. 2-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

4. Prejean to speak at  Loyola
Acclaimed death penalty foe Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Loyola University Nov. 16. Prejean is a Baton Rouge native and author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, which became an award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. The speech kicks off the 40th anniversary celebration of the Loyola Community Action Program, a student-led service and advocacy group. Prejean will speak at the University's Holy Name of Jesus Church at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

5. Sleep on the street, raise money
Covenant House New Orleans, a shelter for homeless youths, will hold its annual fundraiser Nov. 19, when 140 community leaders will crawl into sleeping bags and cardboard boxes to spend one night sleeping on the street. Among those sleeping out this year: Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Lauren Thom (aka Fleurty Girl) and Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman. Covenant House's goal is to raise $425,000 that night.

6. Final gubernatorial debate this week
It got chippy at last week's gubernatorial debate between Sen. David Vitter and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, with Vitter accusing Edwards of being "holier-than-thou," "not living by the honor code," and delivering "low blows." Edwards responded tartly, "If it's a low blow, it's only because that's where you live, Senator. It hits you where you live." That debate aired live on C-SPAN2 and was the top story on that night's Rachel Maddow Show.

  Edwards and Vitter will meet this week for a final matchup before Election Day. The debate will be hosted by WVLA-TV in Baton Rouge Nov. 16 and aired statewide.

7. Library books out of the red
For the first time in several years, the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) didn't plead with the New Orleans City Council for extra cash in the city budget. In May, voters passed a 2.5-mill tax hike that will provide NOPL with $2.7 million more each year, enough to prevent the library from dipping into its diminishing reserve funds or cutting staff and services.

  NOPL Executive Director Charles Brown offered a rosier picture at this year's budget hearing last week. Starting Jan. 3, all library branches will be open six days a week, with some open Sundays. NOPL also will expand literacy efforts, programming for seniors and popular events like "wine and coloring" (for adults) and CSI-styled events with coroner Jeffrey Rouse. The Mid-City branch is scheduled to close by Jan. 23, with a new location to open Feb. 1.

8. The Cure to kick off 2016 tour in New Orleans
Eternal goth band The Cure will open its 2016 tour of North America in New Orleans on May 11 at the UNO Lakefront Arena. It's The Cure's first major road trip on the continent since 2008, and a press release promised "37 years of Cure songs, mixing hits, rarities, favourites and as yet unreleased tracks in a brand new stage production." The tour includes 26 other dates.

9. Duck sauce
U.S. Sen. David Vitter tried to tap some Duck Dynasty mojo last week, cutting a campaign ad with the faux-reality show's star Willie Robertson. "I know he's made some mistakes, but who hasn't?" Robertson said of Vitter before citing the Bible and urging the clean-shaven gubernatorial candidate to "grow a better beard." Vitter replied, "Yeah, you need to talk to Wendy about that."

10. Allen Toussaint Circle?
Legendary composer, musician and New Orleanian Allen Toussaint — whose work permeates the city as well as the history of rock 'n' roll itself — died in the early hours of Nov. 10 following a performance in Spain. He was 77. An outpouring of memories, essays and messages from fans and musicians paid tribute to the artist following his unexpected death. One group already is calling for a statue of Toussaint to replace Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle. More than 3,000 people have "liked" the Allen Toussaint Circle page on Facebook.

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