1. GLEASON TO OPEN JULY 29 IN NEW ORLEANS
Gleason, the award-winning documentary about former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, his wife Michel and their struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), will open July 29 at the Theatres at Canal Place and the AMC Elmwood Palace 20. The Gleasons joined filmmaker Clay Tweel at the Orpheum Theater June 14 for the New Orleans premiere, which also brought out Saints coach Sean Payton and many of Gleason's former teammates, including Drew Brees, who said of the film, "Everything is as raw and real as you can imagine. I'm going to warn you right now, there will not be a dry eye in the house." Also there were Mayor Mitch Landrieu and restaurateur Leah Chase (pictured with Gleason). The film debuted to strong reviews earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
2. Quote of the week
"As a country, we're in a state of denial because we've confused the right to bear arms with the right to carry arms all the time, anywhere and any place you want." — Ret. U.S. Army Gen. Russel Honore, speaking to Gannett Louisiana one day after the Orlando nightclub shootings that killed 49 bar patrons.
3. Idea Village's Williamson in at NOLA Media Group
Tim Williamson, CEO and co-founder of the entrepreneur nonprofit The Idea Village, will become president of NOLA Media Group (NMG), the umbrella company that oversees NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, NMG announced last week. Williamson, a native of New Orleans, worked with Cox Interactive Media in Pittsburgh before returning home and launching the now-defunct website InsideNewOrleans.com in 1998. He will take over at NMG Aug. 15, according to a letter from The Idea Village's board of directors, and will remain on the nonprofit's board. Emily Madero, chief operating officer of The Idea Village, will become acting CEO Aug. 1.
Williamson co-founded The Idea Village in 2000, which launched in 2009 what would become known as New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. In 2012, Williamson was a signatory to a letter written by dozens of New Orleans business leaders to the management of The Times-Picayune, urging the paper's owners not to go to three-day-a-week publication — an effort that ultimately was unsuccessful.
Williamson replaces Ricky Mathews, who was brought in to oversee The Times-Picayune's "digital revolution" in 2012, a move that involved the firing of hundreds of staffers, a three-day-a-week print schedule and a rebranding as NOLA Media Group. The company said Mathews would "help lead new initiatives with Advance Local, a group of affiliated websites and newspapers of which NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune are members."
4. REAL ID a go
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation last week that will give Louisianans the option of getting a traditional state ID card or one that complies with REAL ID, the federal standard that will be required for domestic air travel and access to some government buildings beginning in 2020. Former Gov. Bobby Jindal repeatedly spoke against REAL ID, citing privacy concerns. Karen St. Germain of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles said the new ID cards would be ready by September.
5. Short-term rental debate simmers this summer
The New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) is likely to vote on changes to the city's short-term rental laws Aug. 9. Despite continued objections from many residents, the CPC and members of the New Orleans City Council, the city planning staff keeps floating the legalization of renting entire homes on sites like Airbnb, per the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration. The New Orleans City Council, which has the final say on policy changes, could vote on those recommendations as early as Aug. 11.
A crowd packed inside City Council Chambers on June 14 stuck through several hours of public comments, most arguing against whole-home rentals. In his closing remarks, Commissioner Nolan Marshall said, "What we're facing here, it has the potential to have a devastating effect on the city as we know it."
Hotel operators and bed and breakfast owners, who have urged the city for several years to place Airbnb operators on an even playing field with hotel-motel-tax-paying businesses, said they can't compete with short-term rental rates and could lose workers who are pushed out of housing close to downtown. Ann Tuennerman of Tales of the Cocktail posted a statement to Facebook asking the tens of thousands visiting for the July event to avoid short-term rentals: "Help us keep locals in their homes and guests visiting our city in the many beautiful and hospitable hotels and B&Bs New Orleans has to offer."
6. Costello, Isbell head to New Orleans in October
Fall's concert calendar is filling up with more national acts. Elvis Costello brings his acclaimed solo "Detour" show to the Saenger Theatre Oct. 15, and former Drive-By Trucker and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell will hold down two nights at The Joy Theater Oct. 22-23. Isbell's openers are Josh Rit- ter (Oct. 22) and John More-land (Oct. 23).
Tickets to Costello are $49.75-$89.75. Tickets to Isbell are $39.50-$75.
7. Landrieu to the feds: more funds for cops
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is pitching Congress for more federal funding for local governments to hire more police. In a CNN.com editorial June 15, Landrieu argued that decreased funding through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services' (or COPS) program, set up in the mid-1990s to help cities hire more cops and buy more gear, along with reduced local funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have strained local police departments' resources. Citing global terrorism and recent attacks, like the recent massacre in Orlando, Landrieu said local cops are the "tip of the spear" in the fight against terrorists.
"In this new fight, national security, homeland security and public safety are all the same thing," Landrieu wrote. "Simply put, it's much more likely that a lone wolf terrorist will encounter 1 of the 1,200 New Orleans Police Department officers, rather than 1 of the 150 FBI agents in the New Orleans office."
As part of "Operation Full Circle," Landrieu urged Congress to refund the COPS program, give more funding to Homeland Security to build up local anti-terrorism efforts, expand the FBI's National Terrorism Task Forces and ensure the billions of dollars spent on defense abroad also is matched locally.
8. NOPD's public meetings on consent decree updates
The New Orleans Police Department is holding meetings in each police district this month to discuss progress with its consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. All meetings start at 6 p.m.:
7th District: Mon., June 20 at New Orleans East Hospital (5620 Read Blvd.)
6th District: Tue., June 21 at Ashe Cultural Arts Center (1712 O.C. Haley Blvd.)
1st District: Wed., June 22 at University Medical Center, Room C (2000 Canal St.)
2nd District: Thu., June 23 at Tulane University's Lavin-Bernick Center, Room 212
8th District: Mon., June 27 at St. Jude Community Center (400 N. Rampart St.)
5th District: Tue., June 28 at Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center (1616 Caffin Ave.)
3rd District: Wed., June 29 at Lakeview Christian Center (5885 Fleur De Lis Drive)
4th District: Thu., June 30 at Algiers Regional Library (3014 Holiday Drive)
9. City opens prescription drug drop-off
To help curb prescription drug abuse, the city has opened a drug drop-off box for people to anonymously dispose of prescribed medicines. The drop-off box is open 24 hours daily. (Inhalers, liquids and syringes won't be accepted.) The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators' Drug Drop-Off box is at the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) Central Evidence and Property Section (1116 Magnolia St. near Earhart Boulevard).
10. Swamp meets tundra
Louisiana-born Democratic pundit James Carville matching wits with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin? Yup, it hap-pens June 26 at Politicon, "the unconventional convention" in Pasadena, California, featuring debates, panels, comedy and podcasts about politics. Carville tells Gambit his session with Palin will be "more of an interview than a debate." He also is scheduled to talk with Larry Wilmore, host of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show.