MAYORAL RACE TOWN HALL FORUM JUNE 17
Three of the major announced candidates for mayor (pictured l-r) — Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet — have committed to a town hall June 17 hosted by the group Indivisible NOLA. The town hall will focus on three municipal topics selected by Indivisible NOLA, with questioners on each topic drawn by lot. The event takes place at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (2903 Jefferson Ave.) and begins at 10:30 a.m. (doors will open at 10 a.m.). It's open to the public, but seating is limited and is strictly first-come first-served.
Qualifying for the New Orleans mayoral race is July 12-14. The primary will be held Oct. 14, with a runoff (if necessary) Nov. 18.
Quote of the week
"We're course-correcting history, not ignoring it. ... We're making straight what was made crooked." — Mayor Mitch Landrieu to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, explaining his rationale for removing four Confederate monuments. The 10-minute interview got bumped from broadcast for breaking news, but was posted online. Asked about the largely positive national reaction to his speech on the subject, Landrieu demurred, saying, "Really, it was a speech to the people of New Orleans."
On a related topic, Landrieu said he thought the group Take 'Em Down NOLA was "wrong" for wanting the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square to be removed as well.
He also denied he had any designs on running for president in 2020.
Public memorial for Deborah Cotton set
A memorial for Deborah "Big Red" Cotton — Gambit's longtime second-line correspondent who died last month — has been set for 11 a.m. June 10 at the Carver Theater (2101 Orleans Ave.) in Treme.
Cotton, who died of complications from injuries she received in the 2013 Mother's Day second line shooting, will be remembered by members of the brass band and second-line communities with music by TBC Brass Band during the service. A procession is set to follow down North Claiborne Avenue and through Treme, ending at the Candlelight Lounge near Cotton's longtime home, followed by a block party. Musicians also will perform nearby at Tuba Fats Square in Cotton's memory.
Cotton was a chronicler and booster of the city's social aid and pleasure clubs, brass bands and second-line community. She also was a passionate advocate for social justice causes, and wrote the book Notes From New Orleans. Attendees are requested to wear red in "Big Red's" honor.
Affordable housing proponents relieved that bill failed
New Orleans affordable housing advocates breathed a sigh of relief after Louisiana legislators failed to pass a bill that would prevent city officials from requiring developers to set aside units for low-income residents. The House Commerce Committee voted 7-8 May 30 to prevent Senate Bill 162 by state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, from reaching the House floor. The bill essentially would neuter "inclusionary zoning" plans set forth by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Planning Commission — as well as any potential statewide efforts — requiring new housing developments include units for low-income renters.
Opponents argued those kinds of zoning decisions and plans for how best to serve affordability issues should rest with local governments, not the state. Proponents of the bill said forcing inclusionary zoning rules, rather than focusing on incentives, wards off developers.
Legislative special session looms
Gov. John Bel Edwards last week served legal notice he intends to call a special session of the 2017 Legislature to begin 30 minutes after the regular session adjourns at its official deadline, 6 p.m. on June 8 — if lawmakers have not completed their work on three funding instruments (including an acceptable operating budget for the next fiscal year). If needed, the special session will run through midnight June 19.
The Legislature has not reached an agreement on House Bills 1, 2 and 3, which provide for state agency operating budgets and state construction projects. Unless lawmakers pass all three by June 8, they will reconvene for the fourth special session since Edwards took office in January 2016.
Under law, the governor must give notice of his intention to call the session seven days in advance and set topic parameters. "I am issuing this call as a precautionary measure," Edwards said in a statement. "Should we come to an agreement on the operating and construction budgets, the special session will not be necessary." — KATIE GAGLIANO & MATT HOUSTON | MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
'Sanctuary' cities bill withers in committee
A bill that aimed to revoke state funding to "sanctuary" cities has died in a Louisiana Senate committee. House Bill 676 from state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, was deferred without objection by the state's Senate's Judiciary B Committee May 30.
An amended version of the bill would give municipalities with so-called "sanctuary" policies 90 days to change those policies or risk losing state funding — though Hodges conceded that Louisiana does not have any "sanctuaries" that protect people living in the country illegally from federal authorities.
The bill faced opposition in the Senate committee from New Orleans Democratic state Sens. Karen Carter Peterson and J.P. Morrell. New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison was among law enforcement officials opposing the bill. "It is all about building trust and making people safe and providing public safety," Harrison said. "This bill ... removes resources from the department to provide that safety ... and makes officers unsafe and makes citizens unsafe."
Confederate monument bill dead in Legislature
After nearly seven hours of de- bate and testimony, a Louisiana Senate committee effectively killed a pair of bills that would give voters and the state Legislature control over the fate of monuments to the Confederacy in Louisiana. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 4-2 May 31 to defer state Sen. Beth Mizell's Senate Bill 198 and state Rep. Thomas Carmody's House Bill 71. The measures are effectively dead for this year's session.
The bills followed intense public debate and demonstrations over the fate of four monuments in New Orleans. Monuments to P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and the white supremacist insurrection at the Battle of Liberty Place were removed over several weeks beginning in April, more than a year following a New Orleans City Council vote to take them down. Members of the nine-person Senate committee — which includes New Orleans Sens. Wesley Bishop, Karen Carter Peterson, Troy Carter and J.P. Morrell — objected to the state taking decision-making power away from local governments and subjecting municipalities to costly elections.
Dating partners to have domestic abuse protections in Louisiana
The state Senate passed a pair of measures last week that provide dating partners, including those in same-sex relationships, the same protections afforded spouses in domestic abuse cases. House Bill 223 by state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, had been amend-ed on the House floor to define dating partners as "any person who has been or is involved in a sexual or intimate relationship characterized by the expectation of affectionate involvement" regardless of living arrangements.
Under current law, dating partners involved in domestic abuse cases may only be charged with simple battery — not domestic abuse battery, which carries more severe penalties. Louisiana is one of nine states that does not cur- rently recognize dating partners in such cases.
House Bill 27 by state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, changes the definition of "household member" in domestic violence cases to include couples involved in sexual or intimate relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. Connick's measure passed the Senate in a 25-13 vote. Both bills now head to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature. — MATT HOUSTON | MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
Pride of Place opens at NOMA June 23
Longtime New Orleans gallery owner Arthur Roger has donated his entire personal modern art collection to the New Orleans Museum of Art, and an exhibit focusing on the collection, Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans, opens at the museum June 23. Among the artists represented are Luis Cruz Azaceta, Willie Birch, Douglas Bourgeois, Robert Colescott, George Dureau, Robert Gordy, Deborah Kass, Catherine Opie, Robert Polidori, Holton Rower and John Waters. The exhibit will be on view through Sept. 3.
Arcade Fire to play UNO Lakefront Arena Sept. 26
Arcade Fire will release its fifth album, Everything Now, July 28, and the band (which lives part-time in New Orleans) also announced a North American "Infinite Content" tour beginning in September. Arcade Fire will perform at UNO Lakefront Arena Sept. 26. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 9. Wolf Parade will open.