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I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans this Week Nov. 14, 2017)

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1. BRAZILE TO SPEAK AT IWO LUNCH THIS  WEEK
Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) head (and New Orleans native) Donna Brazile is coming home this week to speak to the Independent Women's Organization (IWO) at the group's annual fundraising lunch.

  Brazile has been in the news a lot this month — mostly regarding her recently published memoir about Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. In it, she says the Clinton campaign controlled the DNC's fundraising, to the detriment of challenger U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Former Clinton staffers and many Democratic leaders dispute this.) Brazile told her critics to "go to hell" on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos.

  During that interview, Brazile also said her time at the DNC was worse for her than Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures and floods "in terms of emotional toll."

  "Anybody from Louisiana knows I'm gonna put some hot sauce on every page," Brazile told Stephanopoulos at the end of the interview, "and if it's not dripping with something that's hot and spicy, it's not me."

  The IWO lunch will be held at The Cannery in Mid-City. Tickets are $50-$60 and are on sale now. No need to bring your own hot sauce.

2. Quote of the week
"The problems that Louisiana faces in regards to its coastal erosion problem is mainly attributed to the Corps of Engineers and the national policy that was designed to protect the Mississippi River in its current state. Louisiana's coastal problem has nothing to do with climate change." — State Attorney General Jeff Landry, to C-SPAN last week when asked about the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord by President Donald Trump's administration.

3. Mayoral candidates empathize with workers
At a wide-ranging forum Nov. 9 that seemed to touch on almost every social problem in the city, mayoral candidates LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet presented their visions for helping New Orleans workers share in the city's economic prosperity.

  Hosted by Loyola College of Law's Workplace Justice Project (WJP) and several other progressive and civic-minded groups, the forum at Algiers Auditorium was designed around a recent WJP report, "The State of Working New Orleans: The Industries that Sustain the Status Quo." The 13-page report painted a picture of the strain felt by of New Orleans workers who struggle to meet basic needs on their current incomes.

  "The reality of workers' lives includes the stress of multiple jobs and rising living costs, made harder by a city that attracts wealthy visitors and demands welcoming hospitality," report author Erika Zucker wrote. "We cannot continue to move forward if so many are held back by poverty despite being employed."

  The forum, which drew about 200 people, was moderated by former WDSU-TV anchor Camille Whitworth, who asked Cantrell and Charbonnet questions based on the report. They also were met with questions about racial inequities, immigration, housing, equal pay for women, child care for workers, development in New Orleans East and more. The questions illustrated problems affecting New Orleans workers, from poor access to job opportunities due to inadequate public transit to declining wages in city jobs that formerly were a pathway to the middle class.

  The candidates agreed on a need for workforce development and training programs and both pledged support for immigrant workers' rights.

4. Juvenile life without parole still used too heavily, children's rights advocates claim
Earlier this year, the Louisiana Legislature was tasked with enforcing U.S. Supreme Court rulings mandating that children be sentenced to life in prison in only "rare" and "uncommon" instances. Now, children's rights advocates say the state is failing to comply, as prosecutors are still asking for juvenile life without parole in more than 30 percent of all cases that have in recent years been made eligible for reconsideration.

  "The district attorneys are not using their discretion as the Supreme Court mandated, nor are they heeding the explicit will of the Legislature," said Jill Pasquarella, attorney at Louisiana Center for Children's Rights. "The legislation means nothing if the state does not comply with the Constitution in practice."

  The issue was raised again after the 2012 Supreme Court decision Miller v. Alabama, which banned mandatory juvenile life without parole. Four years later, the nation's highest court deemed their decision retroactive in Montgomery v. Louisiana, opening the door for sentencing reconsideration for 256 Louisianans.

  In June, the Legislature voted to eliminate life sentences for juveniles in new second-degree murder cases, but to allow prosecutors to seek it in new first-degree cases. Prosecutors were also allowed to attempt to sustain juvenile life in past cases, via special hearings before a judge. In each individual case, it would be up to the DA's office to seek a life sentence.

  Data made available last week by the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights showed that in Louisiana, of the 256 cases eligible for relief, prosecutors sought juvenile life without the possibility of parole in 82 cases. In Orleans Parish, data shows District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has filed notices to seek juvenile life in 44 percent of cases in his district. In Jefferson Parish, District Attorney Paul Connick has filed in 43 percent of cases.

  If a prosecutor is not pursuing juvenile life, a person's sentence is converted to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. To qualify for parole, inmates must meet certain requirements, including obtaining a GED and maintaining good behavior. They then must make their case before the state Parole Board, which can authorize their release.

5. Last chance to weigh in on RTA 20-year plan
Riders and the general public have one last chance to give feedback on the Regional Transit Authority's (RTA's) Strategic Mobility Plan Nov. 13-14.

  At two open houses — one in Kenner, one in the Central Business District — RTA will unveil a draft version of its plan to revamp public transit in the area over the next 20 years. The final plan is scheduled for release in December.

  People who attend the meetings are invited to comment on aspects of the draft plan, including corridors RTA has singled out for faster, more frequent service; a new mobile app to track buses and streetcars in real time; potential partnerships with ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, and more. The proposed changes are based on feedback from riders via online surveys, one-on-one conversations and public events held earlier this year.

  A draft revealed at a recent RTA Board of Commissioners meeting laid out the agency's ambitions to more than double ridership via planned improvements.

  Meetings take place at New Orleans Public Library's main branch (219 Loyola Ave.) at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 and at Kenner Senior Center (641 Compromise St., Kenner) at 6 p.m. Nov. 14.

6. Municipal bike rental (finally) arrives next month
New Orleans will launch its bike rental program early next month with a total of 70 stations and 700 bicycles, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration announced last week. It's the first step in what the city says will be a minimum of 90 stations and 900 bikes in the program, which is called Blue Bikes.

  Bike rental fees vary; riders can pay a prorated $8 an hour, or purchase a "monthly pass" which allows for up to one hour's bike use a day. Low-income people can purchase an annual pass for $20 that allows one hour of bike usage a day, but what qualifies as "low income" hasn't been announced by the city or Blue Bikes.

  Bike rental has proved popular in many cities, but Baltimore recently hit a snag when so many bikes were lost, stolen or vandalized that the city had to halt the program to improve security.

  To see a list of bike stations and get more information, visit www.nola.gov/bike-share.

7. Free flu jabs for musicians, hospitality workers
Free flu shots, quick HIV screenings and help with health care enrollment are available to hospitality industry workers and musicians at an event at Blue Nile Nov. 13.

  The inaugural BarCentennial party features a wellness fair, tasting tables and a bartending competition judged by a panel that includes writer and musician Nicholas Payton. The event is hosted by The Barman's Fund and New Orleans Musicians' Clinic and Assistance Foundation.

  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by as much as 60 percent in a given year.

  The event runs from 6 p.m. to 10  p.m. Attendees must be 21 or older.

8. Buku Fest announces 2018 lineup
The Buku Music + Art Project has announced some of the performers for its 2018 edition along the Mississippi riverfront. The festival features EDM, hip-hop, soul, indie rock and metal bands as well as pop-up performances, art installations and more.

  Performers include Bassnectar, MGMT, Sylvan Esso, SZA, Alison Wonderland, Isaiah Rashad, Flatbush Zombies, Borgore, Mura Masa, Bishop Briggs, Hippie Sabotage, Smino, Honey Dijon, Soulection, CloZee, Jade Cicada, Zack Villere and Bouffant Bouffant.

  Additional performers will be announced later. Buku is March 9-10, 2018.

9. St. Vincent, Bianca Del Rio extend tours to include New Orleans
Singer/songwriter St. Vincent has extended her "Fear the Future" tour with 12 new dates, including a stop at the Civic Theatre Feb. 19, 2018. The tour is in support of St. Vincent's fifth album, Masseduction, which — as she told The New Yorker in a recent profile — is "all about sex and drugs and sadness."

  Meanwhile, New Orleans' homegrown insult comic Bianca Del Rio returns to town March 3, 2018 for a show at the Orpheum Theater. It's part of her "Blame It on Bianca Del Rio" tour, which is covering five continents in a little less than a year. Del Rio (the drag persona/alter ego of Roy Haylock) last appeared in New Orleans at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in 2016 on her "Not Today, Satan" tour. She first appeared on Gambit's cover in 2002, and then in 2014 after winning RuPaul's Drag Race.

10. 'Playing It Back' for hurricane relief
Playing It Back, a benefit concert to assist victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, is scheduled Nov. 15 at Generations Hall.

  The night will be headlined by Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and Armando Leduc y Salsa Royale, along with Vaughn Goudeau, New Cupid, DJ RQ Away, Phunky Monkeys and Anais St. John. Local restaurants will provide food, and an auction will feature items including a meet-and-greet with Better Than Ezra and a membership at the Contemporary Arts Center.

  Monies raised will go to the Cajun Navy and the Junior League of New Orleans' diaper bank. Attendees are encouraged to bring hygiene items and/or cash donations. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.playingitback.org.

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