1. CARVER THEATER CLOSES ABRUPTLY
Ticketholders for a concert scheduled this month at the Carver Theater received an email that the venue — built in 1950 and recently renovated with the aid of a slate of tax credits — "is permanently closed" as of Nov. 14.
Eugene Oppman, who has owned the building since 1987, says the collapse of First NBC Bank Holding Company spelled doom for the theater, which worked with the state and tax credits to secure loans for renovations before its grand reopening in 2014. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. sat on the loans, and within the last few weeks, those loans were sold for "40 cents on the dollar," which changed the terms of the loan, Oppman said. The theater didn't pull in enough revenue to keep up.
The building — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — has served its predominantly black neighborhood for decades as a movie theater, concert hall and event space. It closed in 1980, then reopened a few years later as the Carver Medical Clinic. Oppman bought the building in 1991. It suffered extensive flood damage following Hurricane Katrina and in 2014 received an $8 million renovation with support from the state Office of Community Development and federal tax credits.
The theater rebooted in January 2017 and has hosted a handful of concerts and events since March.
2. Quote of the week
"My hometown, which is New Orleans, part of my Congressional district — next year we celebrate our 300th anniversary, and leading us into our 300th anniversary ... we will be under the control of a female mayor for the first time in New Orleans history." — U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 30, expressing his "extreme joy and excitement" over the election of Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell. Richmond had campaigned enthusiastically for Cantrell's runoff opponent, former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet.
3. New Orleans police monitor: Crime cameras ripe for abuse, misconduct, 'fiscal waste'
Following the city's unveiling of a crime camera monitoring station on the edge of the French Quarter, the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor (IPM) has warned the New Orleans City Council of the city's sweeping surveillance program's "potential for mismanagement, poor information security, public records law compliance challenges and user abuse."
The Real Time Crime Monitoring Center on Rampart Street will serve as the nerve center for a planned network of dozens of city-owned crime cameras, with plans to add street-facing crime camera feeds from nearly every bar and restaurant and many private homes — all part of a multimillion-dollar crime prevention program announced in January.
Acting police monitor Ursula Price wrote in a Nov. 28 letter that the plan presents a number of "high-level risks" and seemingly "does not earmark resources or personnel to monitor the implementation of the plan."
The IPM recommends the City Council consider public meetings on the cameras' use and discuss how the city plans to monitor surveillance efforts and data collection. Mayor Mitch Landrieu's communications director, Tyronne Walker, says the city attorney's office "has been involved in the development of the camera monitoring program, and the NOPD will ensure constitutional policing in its administration of the program."
4. NOPL trains for opiate overdoses
The New Orleans Health Department trained New Orleans Public Library staff Nov. 29 to administer naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug that's recently been made available to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and other first responders.
Reports of overdoses inside the Free Library of Philadelphia's McPherson Square branch made headlines, and libraries have started stocking up on naloxone and training staff to respond to overdoses in the wake of reports of overdoses in library bathrooms across the country. City Health Department Medical Director Joseph Kanter says there have been no overdose reports in New Orleans libraries.
New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse reported 166 opiate overdose-related deaths in the city in 2016. In October, city officials announced NOPD would begin carrying naloxone.
5. Cantrell already making mayoral moves
LaToya Cantrell won't become mayor until May 2018, but she's setting up transition offices on the campus of her alma mater, Xavier University. Last week she flew to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to take part in a three-day seminar for newly elected mayors, hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (of which current Mayor Mitch Landrieu is president).
"Since my time as a community leader in Broadmoor, we've partnered with Harvard University and used its wide swath of resources," Cantrell said in a statement.
Cantrell also has issued an open call for anyone interested in serving in her transition team or in her administration; send your resumes to email@example.com.
6. JBE to hold statewide seminars on human trafficking
Last week Gov. John Bel Edwards held the first of nine planned "summits" around Louisiana on the issue of human trafficking. The summits are a collaboration between the Department of Children and Family Services, the Louisiana Alliance of Children's Advocacy Centers (LACAC) and Louisiana State Police. According to a press release from the governor's office, the summits "will highlight pertinent information from key stakeholders regarding the existing services, protocols and community response to trafficking victims."
In southeastern Louisiana, summits will be held Feb. 22, 2018 in Covington and March 8, 2018 in New Orleans. Locations and speaker lineups will be announced later.
7. Rally for incarcerated women set for Dec. 15
Grassroots criminal justice group Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) hosts a rally Dec. 15 to raise awareness of the impacts of incarceration on women and families, particularly in Louisiana and among women of color.
According to the Sentencing Project, more than 111,000 women are jailed in the U.S., including more than 2,000 in Louisiana. The rate at which women are entering prisons outpaced men by more than 50 percent between 1980 and 2014. Though there's been a 47 percent decrease in the number of black women in prison over the last decade, the incarceration rate among black women (109 per 100,000) still is more than twice the rate for white women (53 per 100,000).
VOTE leads a march and rally beginning at 10 a.m. at The First 72+ (2915 Perdido St.) and ending at City Hall.
8. City Park/Canal intersection tentatively set to reopen this week
The intersection at Canal Boulevard and City Park Avenue should open to traffic sometime during the week of Dec. 4, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) officials say — slightly later than was previously announced.
At an October RTA Board of Commissioners meeting, Transdev Director of Infrastructure Martin Pospisil announced he expected the project to wrap up by the end of November. Last week, Candice Marti, Transdev's director of marketing, told Gambit project engineers soon will finalize testing, including tests of signals at the intersection. She says the intersection will open "as early as we can" and that the timeline falls within the transit organization's contingency plans for this project.
"We don't consider [this] a delay ... we are still technically on schedule," Marti says. "We're just trying to be cautious." Because testing was still in progress as of press time, a firm date for the intersection's reopening could not be announced — and unfavorable test results or bad weather could push it back.
The intersection has been closed since July as part of the Cemeteries Transit Center Project, which will extend the Canal streetcar line to bus shelters across City Park Avenue. According to Marti, rail service on that part of the streetcar line is still projected to begin in January.
9. Eagles coming to town; Steve Martin and Martin Short add show
Veteran baby-boomers favorites The Eagles extended the band's upcoming tour last week, adding a concert at Smoothie King Center June 20, 2018.
The rockers spent much of the 1970s atop the charts behind releases including Hotel California. The band broke up in 1980 and members pursued solo careers before various versions of the band reunited starting in 1994. Founding member Glenn Frey died in January 2016. Longtime members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmit are joined on this tour by Frey's son Deacon Frey and country vocalist Vince Gill. Tickets go on sale Dec. 8.
Steve Martin and Martin Short, along with Steve Martin's bluegrass band The Steep Canyon Rangers, have added a matinee show to their previously announced visit to the Saenger Theater. There are now shows scheduled at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 21, 2018. Tickets are on sale now.
10. Lost Bayou Ramblers, PJ Morton land Grammy nominations
Several Louisiana artists are among the nominees for the 60th Grammy Awards, announced Nov. 28. PJ Morton is nominated for Best R&B Song for "First Began" from his acclaimed April release Gumbo, which also is nominated for Best R&B Album.
Lafayette-New Orleans Cajun rock 'n' roll outfit Lost Bayou Ramblers is nominated for Best Regional Roots Music Album for Kalenda. Also nominated in that category is Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers for its album Top of the Mountain.
Louisiana native Ledisi is nominated for several awards, and New Orleans residents Arcade Fire are nominated for Best Alternative Music Album for Everything Now. LCD Soundsystem also is nominated in that category for American Dream. Both albums were engineered by local musician Korey Richey, who also produced Kalenda.
Winners will be announced Jan. 28, 2018.