1. ENDORSEMENT? NO.BUT 'TRUE FRIENDS SHOW UP'
When state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (right, in pink) was eying a potential mayoral run earlier this month, she told Gambit she already had met with one declared candidate in the race: District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. "Because we truly are dear friends, I had to meet with LaToya and let her know that I was seriously considering the race," Peterson said. Days later, she dropped the notion of running.
At Cantrell's formal campaign kickoff at the New Orleans Jazz Market July 18, Peterson slipped backstage after the event for a quick hug with Cantrell. Asked if her presence constituted an endorsement, Peterson said, "When friends do big things, true friends show up."
But was that an endorsement? "Do you need to write it down?" Peterson said, repeating her statement slowly. "When friends do big things, true friends show up." OK.
2. Quote of the week
"The Senate should immediately reject efforts to 'repeal' the current system and replace sometime later. This could leave millions of Americans without coverage. The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets." — A statement signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards and a bipartisan group of 10 other governors last week, after the GOP-backed health care bill fell apart and Republicans began floating the idea of changing "repeal and replace" to simply "repeal now, replace at some undetermined future date."
President Donald Trump backed the idea, telling reporters he supported the failure of the Affordable Care Act. "Let Obamacare fail; it'll be a lot easier," he told reporters. "And I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail."
3. CBO score for
32M to lose health insurance
After the U.S. Senate's failure to gain enough support behind its Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated 22 million could lose their health care by 2026 under another attempt at the Senate bill.
The latest CBO report, released July 19, estimated 32 million people would lose their insurance by 2026 under a repeal-only measure.
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy has yet to announce how he'd vote on any iteration of a bill to repeal or replace the ACA. Sen. John Neely Kennedy stated July 19, "I am prepared to vote this afternoon, tomorrow or next week. You either like Obamacare or you don't. It's time to stand up and be counted before God and country and do what the American people elected us to do: Repeal Obamacare."
In a statement following the latest CBO score, the Louisiana Healthcare Alliance said, "It doesn't matter what version of health care repeal Republicans put forward, they've each proven to be completely devastating for the American people — cutting coverage, raising costs, gutting Medicaid and weakening protections — just to give the wealthy and drug and pharmaceutical companies another tax break."
4. 'A Talk With the Mayor' July 27
EngageNOLA will host "A Talk With the Mayor: A Civic Engagement Social" at the New Orleans Jazz Market from 5:30 to 9 p.m. July 27. Mayor Mitch Landrieu will discuss his administration, followed by a "facilitated discussion" where audience members will submit questions that will be vetted by volunteers. WWL-TV's Sheba Turk will moderate. The event is free and open to the public with an RSVP to EngageNOLA (www.engagenola.org).
5. Bayou Brief launches in New Orleans
About 50 people gathered July 15 at the Mid-City Yacht Club for the local launch of The Bayou Brief (www.bayoubrief.com), a new statewide nonprofit news website with the tagline "Nevertheless, We Will Progress." The site is the brainchild of Lamar White Jr., a longtime writer and activist from central Louisiana who published a political blog, CenLamar, for more than a decade. According to White, the nonprofit site pulled in $40,000 in donations within the first two weeks of its announcement.
At the Yacht Club, White led a panel that included progressive activist Matt Bailey, political consultant and pundit Westley Bayas and Lynda Woolard, president of the Independent Women's Organization of New Orleans. Among the topics they discussed: the current media landscape in New Orleans, what stories are being misreported or underreported, and if progressives are too "nice" in today's rough-and-tumble political world — or, as White put it, "Should we be bigger assholes?"
"When your brand is tolerance and justice, you're going to get painted as the 'nice' people," Woolard said. "We know the tea party tactics work," she added, citing the recent demonstrations and sit-ins outside congressional offices and at town halls, where constituents gathered to protest against the GOP proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The gathering also drew two candidates for the District A City Council seat: Aylin Maklansky and Drew Ward.
6. Cantrell supports removal of all city traffic cameras, ultimately
At her formal mayoral campaign announcement last week, District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell drew some of the biggest cheers of her speech when she announced, "We don't know if traffic cameras are making our streets safer. But we do know those cameras are costing our residents money that could be spent on their families. As your mayor, I will suspend the use of the cameras until it can be proven that they actually work as intended." (In a departure from prepared remarks that had been provided to reporters, Cantrell speculated onstage that the traffic cameras might be redeployed as crime cameras and placed in drug-plagued neighborhoods.)
Later, though, in a short scrum with reporters, Cantrell seemed to walk back that statement at least in part, saying, "Based on the feedback from the community, it would only be those cameras that have been recently installed" — indicating that she supported the removal only of the cameras that were put in place in early 2017, leaving in place those that had been installed earlier.
The next day, Cantrell spokesman David Winkler-Schmit clarified to Gambit that the original statement — as spelled out in her prepared remarks — was the correct one: Should she be elected, Cantrell would remove all traffic cameras.
Those fines, according to the city budget, were expected to bring in $24 million in 2017 — $8 million more than the previous year. That budget was unanimously approved by the New Orleans City Council, of which Cantrell is a member.
7. At-Large candidates forum set
The group Indivisible New Orleans, which held the first mayoral forum of the current election season, will hold a forum for the City Council At-Large, Division 1 candidates August 5 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Temple Sinai (6227 St. Charles Ave.). As of press time, Eldon Anderson and Helena Moreno had confirmed attendance; Kenneth Cutno and Joe Bouie Jr. had not. The forum is open to the public with first-come, first-serve seating; questioners' names will be drawn by lot.
8. IG warns of lead
levels in drinking water
The New Orleans Office of Inspector General warns residents could be exposed to elevated lead levels in drinking water as the city upturns city streets as part of a $2.4 billion street construction project. Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said last week that city officials and the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) should take steps to warn residents about the risks of lead in pipes potentially disturbed during road projects.
In a statement following the IG report, the city and S&WB said they "are acutely aware of the potential risks associated with lead exposure and are fully committed to taking all necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of the city's hundreds of thousands of residents and tens of millions of visitors," adding their assurance of the safety of New Orleans water. The city has lead information on its construction website roadwork.nola.gov.
Though the S&WB has met the last three rounds of Environmental Protection Agency water quality tests performed every three years, the IG claims the city has not responded with "urgency" regarding the issue of potential lead contamination.
9. Frenchmen Art Market moving to St. Claude
Frenchmen Art Market will leave its space with a ceremonial "second line" after five years as part of the strip's bustling nightlife. The market and its vendors will move to the market's spin-off location The Art Garage on St. Claude Avenue, which opened in 2016.
A farewell "second line" meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, and rolls at 8 p.m. beginning at Frenchmen Street and moving to Royal Street, then Esplanade Avenue, back down Frenchmen to Dauphine Street, then to Elysian Fields Avenue then St. Claude, ending at The Art Garage market at 2231 St. Claude Ave.
"Frenchmen has been our home for over five years, and we have loved being a part of this community," market owner and creative director Kate Gaar said in a statement. "With the move of the Frenchmen Art Market to The Art Garage, we are hoping to provide a unique and innovative complement to the already vibrant local art landscape, including the St. Claude Arts District, and thriving local nightlife."
10. ZZ Top, Modest Mouse added to fall concert schedule
ZZ Top will spin its guitars into New Orleans this fall as part of the band's 2017 Tonnage Tour. The Texas rock 'n' roll band plays the Saenger Theatre Nov 12. Tickets are $45-$125 and are on sale now.
West Coast rock band Modest Mouse — last seen in New Orleans at the 2016 Voodoo Festival — also will perform in New Orleans this fall. The band performs at the Civic Theatre Sept. 11. Tickets are $34.50 and are on sale now.