1. Landrieu and City Council to D.C.: Don't repeal the ACA
In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and all seven members of the New Orleans City Council warn of dramatic consequences in Louisiana if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, including the loss of health care for 375,000 people in the state via Medicaid. Roughly 2 million people in Louisiana with pre-existing conditions could be denied care if the ACA is gutted without a continuity of care for currently insured people — and 180,000 people in New Orleans could "become uninsured overnight," the Jan. 17 letter says.
"The potential negative impacts on families in our city are alarming," the letter goes on to say.
2. Quote of the week
"We're not hiring saints and angels. We're hiring human beings." — New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Michael Harrison Jan. 19, following a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree monitor's report that concluded NOPD's hiring process is "not designed or implemented" to ensure its academy accepts "highly qualified, ethical candidates with personality traits meeting the needs of a modern police department." Of more than 130 applications that were reviewed, a third had "documented risk indicators," according to the report. Deputy Chief of Staff Jonathan Wisbey, who oversees the hiring process, announced his resignation Jan. 18, though Harrison said the resignation wasn't related to the report.
3. City Council to take
up event fee waivers
The New Orleans City Council is expected to vote Thursday, Jan. 26, to end the longstanding policy of waiving special event fees for nonprofit organizations, which, according to Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office, cost the city more than $2 million from 2015 through 2016. The City Council routinely waives those fees, from parade licenses for second lines to usage fees for fairs and festivals, as well as alcohol permits. At-Large Councilwoman Stacy Head's proposal, from the Landrieu administration, instead would offer a 50 percent discount on such fees.
Earlier this month, the Council held a heated debated over whether organizations with state-designated nonprofit status can receive the same treatment as federally designated 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Under the proposed measure, smaller nonprofits without the federal designation would have to pay full price for events. The Council voted to defer the measure to this week.
4. Legislators call for
Troy Brown's resignation
State Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, pleaded no contest to domestic abuse battery charges earlier this month, but he has not responded to repeated calls from legislators to step down. According to Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, legislators could file a resolution punishing Brown next month.
Following the announcement of Brown's charges in 2016, state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans joined Gov. John Bel Edwards and state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, and the Louisiana GOP, in calling for Brown's resignation. (See "Politics," p. 11.) Moreno, who has led several campaigns in the Legislature to strengthen Louisiana's domestic violence and women's rights laws, renewed her call for Brown to step down after his plea. "It's time we stand together — men, women, Republican, Democrat — and say that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," she said in a statement Jan. 12.
5. Radiohead returns to New Orleans
Following its acclaimed ninth album A Moon Shaped Pool in 2016, Radiohead will perform 11 shows in the U.S., including two headlining spots at 2017's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Radiohead also performs in New Orleans for the first time since 2003, when the band headlined the UNO Lakefront Arena after the release of Hail to the Thief.
The band performs April 3 at the Smoothie King Center.
6. Richmond opts in for
With dozens of Democratic members of Congress boycotting President Donald Trump's inauguration last week (according to a tally by The Atlantic, it was more than 60), some Louisianans wondered if U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond — the state's only Democratic congressman — would be among them. Many of those sitting out the inaugural festivities were African-American, and Richmond is the newly installed head of the Congressional Black Caucus. One day before the inauguration, Richmond issued a statement saying that he would attend, but he made it clear his presence was for the institution of the presidency itself, not for Trump. "I have decided to attend the ceremony marking the peaceful transfer of power from one of the greatest, most underappreciated presidents in the modern era to Donald Trump," Richmond wrote. "My attendance is in no way an endorsement of the President-elect or the destructive, divisive rhetoric that has defined him throughout his campaign and transition. ... My goal remains to move the ball forward for the underserved throughout this country. I expect the President-elect will recognize that, and gain a better understanding of his obligation to be president for all Americans."
7. Oberst and Adams head to New Orleans in March
Singer-songwriters Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams will headline concerts in New Orleans this spring on the heels of their 2017 releases.
Adams hits the road following the release of February's Prisoner, and he'll wrap a March tour in New Orleans at the Orpheum Theater on March 14. Tickets start at $36.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 27.
Oberst performs March 18 at the Civic Theatre, the day after the release of Salutations on Nonesuch Records. Guests on the album include Jim James, M Ward, Gillian Welch and others, including The Felice Brothers, who will back Oberst on tour. Oberst will donate $1 from each ticket to Planned Parenthood via the concert campaign Plus 1. Tickets are $26 in advance, $30 the day of the show.
8. Blow on the media
In a Jan. 16 conversation that ranged from his childhood chasing hogs in Gibsland, Louisiana, to a discussion of the ultra-polarized 2016 election, New York Times columnist Charles Blow defended the media against charges of bias and stressed the importance of its role in the Trump era. In a packed-house appearance at Tulane's Dixon Hall, Blow objected to characterizations of the contemporary news media as lacking objectivity. "[Reporters are] calling it as straight as they see it," he said. "[And] it would be impossible to do [op-ed journalism] without people writing straight news stories."
Blow said some of the confusion stems from the rise of 24-hour cable news networks, where some of the best-known personalities are commentators or pundits, rather than reporters.
"[The press] is literally the only thing that stands between you and anarchy," he said. "This [democracy] is a beautiful, fragile experiment ... we are seeing some worrisome signs."
9. Family Gras
Tony Orlando will join the lineup for the 10th anniversary of Metairie's three-day Carnival festival Family Gras next month. Orlando also performed at the festival's first event in 2007. Fifth Harmony, Lee Brice, The Cowsills, The Association, Creole String Beans, Imagination Movers, Big Sam's Funky Nation and others also are on the bill. The event runs Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19. Admission is free.
10. Entrepreneur week
returns in March
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week returns March 19-24 at the Contemporary Arts Center and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The ninth annual business-driven event includes 100 programs, ending with the The Big Pitch competition. Registration is open at www.noew.org.