1. LOCAL REFUGEE AGENCIES REACT TO IMMIGRATION BAN
Refugee resettlement agencies — including one in New Orleans — and their clients face an uncertain future following President Donald Trump's order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries and freezing refugee entry, a move that raised constitutional questions, protests across the nation and locally (pictured) and lawsuits following Trump's first full week in office.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) expected to resettle 80 families into Louisiana this year. In fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30, the U.S. admitted nearly 85,000 refugees; 162 of them resettled in Louisiana, according to the U.S. State Department. Six people have resettled in the state so far this year. An immigration ban could dramatically change whether refugees can contact families outside the U.S., according to CCANO Division Director Martin Gutierrez. "Oftentimes these refugees already have contacts, family members, friends in the country," he said. People entering the U.S. as refugees often are reunited with families or friends or a network of support once they're in the country, Gutierrez adds.
New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond said the archdiocese supports "protection for all vulnerable refugees, regardless of nationality or religion."
"The recent executive orders regarding immigration and refugee resettlement do not support our Catholic principles," Aymond said in a statement. "While we must provide for the security of our communities and our nation, we must regulate our borders in a way that is just and merciful and supports the dignity of the human person and families. We must reach out with compassion to those who have lost loved ones and who are victims of persecution and violence."
Sister Marjorie Hebert with CCANO said the organization "will continue to serve refugees, immigrants and their families with compassionate care that respects the dignity of each person."
2. Quote of the week
"Drew Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl win; he can lead our nation to prosperity, I'll even chair his campaign in the 24 parishes I represent." — U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana's 5th District, endorsing the New Orleans Saints quarterback for any political role Brees may choose. It all stemmed from TMZ Sports asking Brees if he ever would run for office, to which he replied, "It won't be the first thing I do. But I'm not gonna rule it out."
"In all seriousness, I don't know what Drew's politics are, but it doesn't matter," Abraham said. (Like Abraham, Brees is a registered Republican, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's voter database.) But who says Candidate Brees necessarily would run in Louisiana? He does, after all, own a house in Del Mar, California, just north of San Diego.
3. Council likely to take
up bike rules
Following a report from the city's two-year-old Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee, the New Orleans City Council this month is expected to consider several measures that change the rules for bicycling in the city. District D Councilman Jared Brossett sponsored several ordinances adding rules for riding, signaling, lights and reflectors. Specifically, the measures add rules for using hand signals, exempt bicyclists from riding close to the curb from the right lane under certain conditions, prohibit riding two abreast, and require riders to add a red light to the rear of the bike and two reflectors on either side of the bike.
The council's Transportation and Airport Committee is expected to discuss the rules late this month.
4. Landrieu's new policing plan to be discussed this week
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's $43 million public safety plan was criticized by some as soon as he unveiled it last month. The plan calls for hundreds of surveillance cameras in "hotspots" around town as well as a French Quarter-focused cleanup and security plan. Under the new rules, bars citywide would have to physically close their doors at 3 a.m. (but can remain open for business). In a Jan. 30 statement, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO) called the plan "disturbing, vague, and fraught with threats to New Orleans' culture." The group argues that forcing people off the street by 3 a.m. and installing cameras citywide could lead to racial profiling, particularly among service workers and musicians of color leaving late shifts.
The plan points to case studies of cleaned-up pedestrian and commercial hubs in other cities, from New York's Times Square to Temple Bar in Dublin. MaCCNO is concerned New Orleans will give the French Quarter a similarly "culturally 'sanitized' and 'homogenized'" treatment. MaCCNO will hold a meeting to discuss the plan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Candlelight Lounge (925 N. Robertson St.).
5. Rental registry set for Council vote
The New Orleans City Council is expected to vote Feb. 9 on the creation of a rental registry and mandatory inspections for most private rental properties in the city. The ordinance (from Council members LaToya Cantrell and Jason Williams) requires rental units to meet a checklist of health and safety requirements before they can be rented. Property owners also would have to pay a registration fee to cover the cost of inspections, which would be performed at least once every three years.
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, which helped draft the ordinance, revealed in a February 2016 report that substandard housing in New Orleans disproportionately affects low-income families with children. More than 40,000 children in New Orleans live in rentals; 5,600 units are estimated to have rodents and 2,300 to have mold, contributing to respiratory illnesses that accounted for more than 800 emergency room visits last year.
6. Governor calls special session for Feb. 13
Gov. John Bel Edwards has called state lawmakers into a pre-Carnival special session to address a $304 million state budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. The session will begin Feb. 13 and conclude no later than Feb. 22 — just before Mardi Gras. Edwards, a Democrat, proposes no new or increased taxes, but he has left the door open to fee increases and cuts to areas beyond higher education and health care. He also wants to tap the state's so-called rainy day trust fund up to $119 million to cover part of the shortfall. Republican lawmakers in the House have said no session is needed, and they oppose tapping the rainy day fund. The House Republican Delegation was still formulating its own plan late last week.
7. Meters, Batiste on this year's Jazz Fest posters
The 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival posters were unveiled last week, and they honor legendary funk innovators The Meters and Jon Batiste, leader of the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Francis X. Pavy painted Art Neville, George Porter Jr., Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste and Leo Nocentelli in front of a curtain decorated with what look like French Quarter buildings. Pavy also created the image of the Neville Brothers used in the 1997 Jazz Fest poster and the Jerry Lee Lewis poster in 2007. Brandan "BMike" Odums created the image of Batiste for the festival's Congo Square poster.
The Meters perform at Jazz Fest Sunday, May 7. Batiste and his band Stay Human perform Saturday, April 29.
8. Tales of the Deepwater
At a live storytelling event at Club XLIV and Encore at Champions Square Feb. 6, oceanographers, restoration ecologists and fishermen share personal accounts of their experiences during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when more than 130 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico in the largest spill in U.S. history. The show is sponsored by the Story Collider podcast, which organizes and records storytelling events related to science.
9. Shaun King to speak at Xavier
Author and civil rights advocate Shaun King, who is senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, will speak at Xavier University's University Center Ballroom at 6 p.m. Feb. 16. It's part of Xavier's Black History Month events, which include speeches by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (Feb. 2) and author/activist Stevona Elm Rogers (Feb. 22). King rose to national prominence during the Black Lives Matter protests and is the author of the book The Power of 100!.
Last month, King erroneously reported in the Daily News that Louisiana had made resisting arrest in the state a felony hate crime, based on a statement — also erroneous — by a single law enforcement officer, St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert. The chief misconstrued Louisiana's so-called "blue lives matter" law, which state lawmakers enacted and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed last year. Edwards' office said the bill never supported Hebert's claim, which the chief later withdrew.
10. Classical's back on the air
Classical music is back on the FM airwaves in New Orleans. Last week, WWNO-FM, the city's National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, announced Classical 104.9 FM is up and running. "We have been waiting several years for the opportunity to restore classical music to the FM band," WWNO General Manager Paul Maassen said in a statement. "New Orleans is one of America's oldest centers of classical music performance, and a community where all kinds of music should be available to everyone." Maassen added that 104.9 intends to record and broadcast local classical music performances, and the station's centerpiece will be Classical New Orleans, a four-hour local show airing weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hosted by Jack Hopke and James Arey. WWNO was founded as a classical station in the 1970s and switched to an NPR format in 2012.