1. ADDING SAME-SEX COUPLES
TO STATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATUTES
The bill would alter the state's civil and criminal statutes by increasing potential penalties for abusers in same-sex cohabiting relationships and by providing key public welfare assistance options to same-sex victims.
The bill simply removes the phrase "of opposite sex" from the state's definition of a household member, a definition that forms a foundation for domestic abuse battery and domestic aggravated assault charges, as well as support services for victims.
Louisiana law defines domestic violence as violence perpetrated against family members, such as spouses or household members. State law identifies a household member as "any person of the opposite sex presently or formerly living in the same residence with the offender as a spouse, whether married or not ..." Louisiana and South Carolina are the only states that include "opposite sex" distinctions in their domestic violence statutes.
Connick said he filed the legislation on behalf of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office, where Assistant District Attorney Sunny Funk is spearheading the change. Connick said that office handles domestic violence cases daily and understands the community's needs. Society is evolving, Connick added, and the legal change is necessary to ensure the state is doing its best to protect all of its residents. "Everybody needs to be protected no matter what your sexual orientation," Connick said. "Everybody needs to be protected from abuse." — KATIE GAGLIANO | MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
2. Quote of the week
"We expect this news to be an active topic of discussion among individuals and organizations that advocate for the arts. As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA's vital role in serving our nation's communities." — Official statement from the National Endowment for the Arts, March 16. Among the other agencies facing total funding elimination are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Washington Post called it "the worst-case scenario for arts groups."
3. LSP Superintendent Edmonson retires amid controversy
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who had reappointed Edmonson, said in a statement, "Together, we believe this is the best approach for the department. Throughout many natural and man-made disasters, Col. Edmonson has been a steady hand and strong leader for the people of Louisiana." In his own statement, Edmonson said, "The Governor has never asked that I step down. As our discussions continued today, I have come to believe that my moving aside will permit the governor and the state to move forward. ... I've known since childhood that God's Plan runs perfect and that His Will be done. I am excited for what He has in store for me."
4. New low-barrier homeless shelter
Landrieu originally pressed for its construction on Erato Street in Central City. District B City Councilmember LaToya Cantrell had pushed the city to look for an alternate site, including the former Temporary Detention Center on Perdido Street, part of the former jail complex, as well as the VA. Cantrell told Gambit she had been "shut out" of discussions about the location.
Later that year, the Landrieu Administration considered Israel Meyer Augustine Middle School and the VA as alternative sites. Cantrell said her objection to the Erato location "was never about NIMBY," but about access to health care, case management and other services.
According to a city press release, the VA location ultimately was chosen "due to an improved timeline for transfer of the building back to city control, proximity to the homeless population and service providers, and with input from partners and stakeholders."
The city has budgeted $1.5 million in 2017 to help pay for the shelter, and partnering organization the Downtown Development District will pay an additional $1 million and match funding in the future. Annual costs are expected to be $750,000, paid by the city.
5. It's 3 a.m., and the doors may stay open
A controversial anti-crime plan rolled out by Mayor Mitch Landrieu earlier this year met criticism for a rule to force bars citywide to close their doors at 3 a.m. Last week, the city announced it would drop the idea "due to other public safety issues that may have resulted from reduced capacity and fire exits in bars," according to Ryan Berni, deputy mayor of external affairs.
The plan focuses largely on the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, where street sweepers (with police escort) would hit the streets at 3 a.m. (and two more times before 10 a.m.). The "3 a.m." rule didn't plan to "close" bars — just their doors — while the New Orleans Police Department and other agencies "sweep the streets," according to New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison, speaking at a January press conference.
The $40 million plan also adds 200 cameras to "hot spots" in neighborhoods across the city. Images from the cameras will be streamed to a command center. In a statement, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans said it fails to see "what much of this plan has to do with crime reduction at all — rather it looks to be a form of 'disaster capitalism,' using the fear of crime to force through policies that will be widely unpopular."
6. Vandalism at
At-Large City Councilman Jason Williams — who spoke at the meeting — said "this type of cowardly violence, perpetrated against such a welcoming space, is an incredibly hateful act."
NOPD has not linked the damage to the town hall. Earlier this year, transgender women Ciara McElveen and Chyna Gibson were killed in New Orleans, and Jaquarrius Holland was killed in Monroe. Violence against transgender people in 2017 follows two of the deadliest years for transgender people in the U.S., including several deaths in Louisiana.
7. Thank God it's Friday
Polite had submitted his resignation that week, to be effective March 24, but President Donald Trump, through the U.S. Department of Justice, had requested the 46 U.S. Attorneys who remained on the job following his inauguration step down immediately. Duane Evans, who previously served as first assistant U.S. Attorney under Polite, is the acting U.S. Attorney. Trump has not named a successor. Polite said in a statement that he will soon announce "his future endeavors, in both the public and private sectors."
8. Fresher options
at corner stores
Each store will have one-on-one "mentorships" with Propeller developers and be connected with a supply chain from Liberty's Kitchen.
9. Facebook's Sandberg coming to New Orleans
In Lean In, Sandberg argues there aren't as many women in the highest levels of business in part because they begin "opting out" of more demanding assignments in anticipation of pregnancy and child care. The book sparked backlash from critics who pointed out that Sandberg has resources like nannies, housekeepers and significant wealth to support an ambitious career — assets which aren't available to many women.
Sandberg reevaluated some of her Lean In arguments after the sudden death of her husband. Her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance and Finding Joy, details how her family recovered from that loss and how she copes with being a single parent.
A ticket, which includes a copy of the new book, is required to attend the event sponsored by Garden District Book Shop. It's from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
10. 'Recall Yenni' gives up the ghost
Last year, Yenni admitted to sending what he called "improper texts" to a then-17-year-old gay teen, but apologized and insisted it had nothing to do with his performance as parish president.