1. Jazz Fest announces lineup
Stevie Wonder (pictured), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Kings of Leon, Harry Connick Jr., Usher and The Roots, Snoop Dogg, Lorde, Pitbull, Alabama Shakes, Nas, Wilco, Patti LaBelle and many others will perform at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.
The annual festival is April 28-30 and May 4-7.
Connick, Trey Anastasio Band, Nas with The Soul Rebels, Aaron Neville and Leon Bridges will perform on opening day, Friday, April 28. Maroon 5, Usher and The Roots, Alabama Shakes, Jonny Lang and Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform Saturday, April 29. Tom Petty, Lorde, Pitbull, George Benson and Dr. John close out the first weekend on Sunday, April 30.
The lineup for Thursday, May 4 includes Widespread Panic, Darius Rucker, Corinne Bailey Rae, Tower of Power, and Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. There's a tribute to Louis Armstrong featuring Hugh Masekela and Dr. Michael White.
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Earth, Wind and Fire, Wilco and Rhiannon Giddens are onstage Friday, May 5. Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Meghan Trainor perform Saturday, May 6. Closing the festival on Sunday, May 7 are Kings of Leon, Trombone Shorty, Patti LaBelle, The Meters, Buddy Guy and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
2. Quote of the week
"The rising cost of Medicaid is why TOPS has been cut. The rising cost of Medicaid is why we can't pay our teachers more. The rising cost of Medicaid is why the interstate is a parking lot in Baton Rouge. The rising cost of Medicaid is a core reason the state is running deficits." — U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy, blaming the seven-month-old Medicaid expansion program for many of Louisiana's ills, including Red Stick traffic. Richard Carbo, communications director to Gov. John Bel Edwards, quipped that Kennedy was using "alternative facts" (see Commentary, p. 10).
3. City leaders tackle equal pay issues
In a Jan. 25 ceremony attended by pay equity advocates (including state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and state Rep. Helena Moreno), Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order designed to address equal pay issues for women who are employees of the City of New Orleans. Landrieu's order calls for a Civil Service Commission study to investigate gender disparity on its payrolls and bans questions about previous salary history during the interview and negotiation process for unclassified city positions, which do not have a pre-determined salary. In a press release following the signing, Landrieu cited a Tulane University study that found female employees in Orleans Parish are paid just 79 percent of the wages of their male counterparts, adding up to a $9,567 loss in income each year. He called the wage gap "unacceptable."
The next day, District D Councilman Jared Brossett took on the same issue when he introduced an ordinance to establish the Equal Pay Advisory Committee. According to a statement from Brossett's office, the committee would advise the Council on the wage gap, poverty and wage discrimination. "Pay inequality isn't just a women's issue, it's a family issue," Brossett said.
4. City unveils sweeping surveillance plan
Under a $40 million crime- fighting plan unveiled last week by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Gov. John Bel Edwards, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) will monitor 200 cameras throughout several of the city's more crime-riddled neighborhoods. In addition, bars will have to close their doors (but not stop serving customers) at 3 a.m. as a network of law enforcement officers aims to reduce pedestrian traffic.
The plan adds cameras to 20 "hotspots" as well as license plate readers at more than 100 intersections. Part of Bourbon Street will go permanently pedestrian-only when the city finalizes a traffic plan, likely within four to six months. The French Quarter will have more lighting and a "team dedicated to sanitation." The city also will seek to "improve the Jackson Square experience" and "review restrictions" on performers and artists and increase code enforcement efforts.
Though the program largely is focused on the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, the rules will apply citywide.
City officials expect the plan to kick in later this year, but first it must pass through the New Orleans City Council. (Council members LaToya Cantrell, James Gray, Susan Guidry, Nadine Ramsey and Jason Williams spoke in support of the measure Jan. 23.) The plan could cost nearly $4 million a year, pulled from the city's general fund, with more than $35 million in upfront costs for cameras, barricades and other resources to implement it.
5. Nonprofits: Prepare to cough up for permits
Nonprofit organizations seeking waivers for festivals, parades, alcohol sales and other events will have to pay 50 percent of their permit costs in most cases going forward. The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously Jan. 26 to end its longstanding practice of waiving those fees, which city officials said have cost New Orleans more than $2 million over the last two years. Under several new ordinances, nonprofit groups will pay discounted rates for Fire Department inspections, special event alcohol permits, Department of Public Works permits at Mardi Gras, dumpster use, street closures and other permits and licenses. The ordinance does not apply to Mardi Gras Indian and social aid and pleasure club events.
6. Landrieu: Trump's 'sanctuary cities' policy is 'political theatrics'
As President Donald Trump signed executive orders to deny entry to immigrants and funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" he believes harbor people living in the country illegally, Mayor Mitch Landrieu argued New Orleans won't be in danger of losing federal funds. Landrieu added that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) "will not be coerced into joining Trump's deportation army" via a deputized Homeland Security force. Trump's administration also plans to publish, on a weekly basis, "a comprehensive list of criminal actions" allegedly committed by immigrants.
"The NOPD is focused on arresting those who commit violent crimes, not enforcing civil immigration laws," Landrieu said in a statement. "Those who commit a crime will be arrested — political theatrics have no bearing on the serious work at hand."
Trump's executive order is part of a broader immigration plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, end refugee entry into the U.S. and freeze immigration from several countries (several of which the U.S. has engaged in bombing campaigns). NOPD drafted its immigration policy with the approval of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, according to Landrieu, who said ICE "never expressed any concern with the NOPD's policy." NOPD's federal consent decree aims to prevent discriminatory policing behaviors, including immigration investigations, and was amended last year to coordinate with some ICE efforts.
"Because of these rigorous reviews of the NOPD's policy, we do not believe that President Trump's executive order will endanger any federal funding and there will be no change in our policy," Landrieu said.
7. The President and Peyton
As first reported by Politico, New Orleans son Peyton Manning spoke to Republican Congress members in Philadelphia last week at a meeting attended by President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. Manning has been a reliable donor to GOP candidates at the federal level over the years. In the last election cycle, he backed Jeb Bush to the maximum level ($2,700).
Trump has boasted of his friend-ship with Manning, saying he back- ed the Denver Broncos in last year's Super Bowl mostly due to the quarterback: "I very much have always liked Peyton Manning," Trump told CBS' Face the Nation last year. "He's a very good guy. I know him. And he's a very, very good guy." In his interview with ABC News last week, Trump defended his controversial speech at the CIA Memorial Wall with more Peyton-isms: "I got a standing ovation," the president said. "In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal."
8. French Quarter Fest
Aaron Neville will make his French Quarter Festival debut at this year's event, which features a lineup of nearly 200 bands and artists at venues throughout the Vieux Carre. Neville will headline the fest's opening night on Thursday, April 6.
Also making their debut in 2017 are Louisiana's LeRoux, Gregory Agid, Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole, Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Valerie Sassyfras, Soul Brass Band, T'Monde and others, joining a lineup of classic New Orleans R&B artists and funk, brass, jazz, rap and rock artists. The 34th annual festival is free and runs April 6-9.
9. Propaganda exhibit at National WWII Museum
A visiting exhibit at the National World War II Museum explores examples of propaganda during World War II. "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda" is a traveling version of permanent modules created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It opened in New Orleans Jan. 27.
Kimberly Guise, the National World War II Museum's assistant director for curatorial services, hopes the exhibit will open a dialogue with visitors about what propaganda is and how to debunk it.
"It's always important for informed citizens to really think critically about all the information that is coming at us — in the digital age in particular, where there's lots of information available to us at all times," she says. The exhibit is on display through June 18.
10. Mythbusting GOP chair Villere: JBE 'not welcome'
Louisiana Republican party chair Roger Villere, a Metairie businessman, issued a blistering statement last week debunking a wild rumor that Gov. John Bel Edwards might be considering a switch from Democrat to Republican. "For the record, John Bel Edwards would not be welcome to join the GOP," Villere said in an emailed statement about an online story published by Louisiana Voice editor Tom Aswell. "Story is false, but has provided great comic relief! I have not spoken with Governor Edwards or anyone on his staff. Edwards, the former Democrat caucus leader, stands in opposition to the conservative principles of the Republican Party and just recently supported Hillary Clinton for President. As Governor, Edwards has proven to be a supporter of big government, higher taxes and cronyism. While we strive to have a big tent party, John Bel Edwards' positions and beliefs are located on another hemisphere."
Edwards has never stated or even hinted that he was considering a party switch, but the rumor persisted — for a few days.