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I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans this Week (June 20, 2017)

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1. U2 RETURNS TO THE DOME
U2 will expand its 2017 world tour to include a show in New Orleans in September — the band's first performance in the city in more than a decade. U2 returns to the Superdome Sept. 14 as part of the band's The Joshua Tree tour. Singer-songwriter Beck will open.

  The tour celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of the band's landmark fifth album, produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois and featuring hits "With or Without You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." The band last performed in the Superdome alongside Green Day in September 2006 in a dramatic, emotional and cathartic reopening of the Dome following Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, where they played the song "The Saints Are Coming."

  Tickets are $35-$75. There is a four-ticket limit for subscriber purchases and a six-ticket limit for general sales.

2. Quote of the week
"We are feeding into very fragile or disturbed minds ideas and language they shouldn't hear over and over on TV. ... Elections have consequences, but, too, words have real consequences. And the political climate, as far as my lifetime — and I'm not that old — it's the worst I've seen it." — U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, addressing the media one day after his colleague and close friend U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and three others were shot at a Virginia park where they were practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game for members of Congress.

  Richmond said he had visited Scalise in the hospital three times in the day since the shooting. Asked if he thought Scalise would pull through, Richmond said, "I'm prayerful he'll pull through." (See Commentary, p. 11.)

3. State Senate passes budget in special session
The Louisiana Senate passed a $28 billion state operating budget June 16, wrapping up the 2017 special session that hinged on the passage of a workable budget. The budget appropriates every last dollar of forecasted revenue on the condition that agencies hold back from spending a combined $60 million as a precaution against midyear shortfalls. Civil service workers will get 2 percent pay raises, higher education will not take a cut, TOPS will be fully funded, psychological rehabilitation services will not halt, and the Acadiana Center for Youth will open. "The bill is actually better than it was before," Finance Committee chairman Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, said. "It's smart, reasonable, and we did the right thing." — MATT HOUSTON | MANSHIP NEWS SERVICE

4. 'State of the city' rescheduled for this week
Mayor Mitch Landrieu will hold his annual State of the City address June 21. Landrieu postponed the speech June 14 following the early morning shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise outside Washington D.C. Landrieu was scheduled to deliver the address at the Civic Theatre later that morning. It likely will be the final State of the City for Landrieu, who is term-limited, before mayoral elections this fall. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Civic Theatre (510 O'Keefe Ave.).

5. Louisiana scores low (again) for children's well-being
Louisiana ranks among the worst states in the U.S. for overall child well-being, according to the 2017 Kids Count report from the Agenda for Children and Annie E. Casey Foundation. More than a quarter of Louisiana children live in poverty, and more than 30 percent live in households that lack secure employment or have a high housing cost burden. Louisiana also was one of 14 states in which death rates among young children and teenagers increased between 2010 and 2015. Half of young children are not enrolled in school, and nearly three-quarters of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading.

  Despite the low rankings, more children in Louisiana have access to health insurance than in previous years. Only 4 percent of Louisiana kids were uninsured in 2015, gains reflected in other states with improving insurance coverage via Medicaid expansions and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

  Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children, said, "Policies that help working families maintain their jobs and get ahead — such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Care Assistance — are some of the best tools we have to make sure children grow up in economically secure households.

  "Louisiana has made some improvements ... in recent years," Recasner added, "but if we really want to move the needle on child poverty, our lawmakers need to significantly increase public investments in these evidence-based programs."

6. Medical marijuana in Louisiana moves forward
Louisiana State University announced plans last week to partner with GB Sciences for the state's medical marijuana manufacturing program. LSU's AgCenter will contract with the Las Vegas-based company — pending approval of the school's Board of Supervisors — to grow weed and produce a medical-grade marijuana-based product available for prescription by 2018.

  The program comes two years after the passage of statewide legislation to begin cultivating, dispensing and prescribing medical marijuana in Louisiana. The AgCenter says no tax dollars will be used for the program, which could cost up to $15 million. The company likely will build a facility to grow the plant at a secure, undisclosed location, as per state law.

7. Council supports Paris climate change accord
The New Orleans City Council unanimously supported a resolution June 15 to support efforts to reduce carbon emissions locally, in the wake of President Donald Trump's pledge to pull out of the landmark 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change. The City Council joins "the growing coalition of leaders locally and around the world declaring their intent to continue to adhere to the Paris Agreement." Earlier this month, Mayor Mitch Landrieu also joined more than 60 U.S. mayors pledging to "uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement."

  "This City Council wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the principles of the Paris agreement," reads the resolution, which recommits the City Council to lowering carbon emissions, adopting energy-efficiency measures and using renewable energy resources.

8. Bike share voting is over; first stations to appear in October
New Orleans' bike share program officially rolls out this fall with Social Bicycles Inc., and the city has asked residents to vote online to decide where they'd like to see the first round of bike stations. Voting was set to conclude June 18.

  Phase I of the program will involve installing 70 bike share stations (700 bikes total) on the East Bank of New Orleans in a number of neighborhoods concentrated around downtown, the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny/Bywater, the Garden District and Mid-City. The city says each bike share station is 6 feet wide and between 20 to 50 feet long (the size of one to three parking spaces).

  Permitting and installation will go on all summer, with the goal of opening Phase I in October. The city is guaranteeing a future expansion to 90 stations and 900 bikes, with the possibility of future growth, depending on public reception, though no Phase II plans have been announced.

9. Longtime local journalist Dennis Persica dies at 67
Dennis Persica, a journalist who worked for The Times-Picayune, The Lens and most recently as a weekly columnist for The New Orleans Advocate, died June 14 after what was described as a short battle with cancer, according to his brother Michael Persica and sister Anne Persica Morel. Persica was 67.

  Persica worked for The Times-Picayune for 25 years as a reporter and editor, and was laid off in the "digital transition" there along with some 200 other employees of the paper. He led the Charter School Reporting Corps for The Lens for much of 2013, and worked most recently as a freelancer with a weekly column in The New Orleans Advocate.

  Persica also managed — and occasionally refereed — the Facebook group Friends of the Times-Picayune, where current and former staffers of the paper kept in touch.

  "I got to work with him at two different times, both at The Times-Picayune and The Lens," said Steve Beatty, publisher and CEO of The Lens, the New Orleans nonprofit newsroom. Beatty joined The Times-Picayune in 1991 and said Persica was known as a "solid and thoughtful editor" there.

  "Dennis was a real New Orleanian. He loved the city, loved the language and respected both," Beatty said. "He loved language not in a hokey way, but in a way that is probably fading."

10. President Mitch? Media won't leave the notion alone
Though he's said he has no interest in running for President in 2020, the national media just won't seem to leave Mayor Mitch Landrieu alone. First it was The New York Times, then Chuck Todd on Meet the Press — and last week The Hill was bandying about the Landrieu name in highly flattering terms, claiming unnamed "Democrats say Landrieu and other non-establishment politicians like him could be the future of the party."

  It was a confusing (if flattering) piece — after calling Landrieu a "non-establishment" politician, it went on to stress the Landrieu family's longtime political bona fides. The Hill also cited Landrieu's crime ordinances and anti-violence work — without mentioning that violent crime is spiking in New Orleans right now. 

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