1. NOPD OPENS COMMAND
CENTER FOR CRIME CAMERAS
A time stamp appeared above each person wandering into a live feed of Jackson Square that streamed into a command center where crime cameras across the city were monitored in real time.
On Rampart Street on the edge of the French Quarter, the city's new Real Time Crime Monitoring Center hopes to centralize a "blanket" of surveillance cameras — all of them, from city-owned crime cameras and license plate readers to cameras installed by residents and bars — for round-the-clock monitoring.
On Nov. 21, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and officials announced the opening of the center, a $5 million renovation and a "major phase" of Landrieu's sweeping $40 million crime prevention package announced in January. That plan includes 40 cameras planted in crime "hotspots," with another 250 planned by spring 2018, and 22 license plate readers, with another 80 coming online in the coming months — along with tightened security measures on Bourbon Street and around the French Quarter.
Landrieu also announced that the administration plans to work with the New Orleans City Council on legislation to get bars and alcohol permit holders to install cameras to feed into the center. Officials first previewed plans for bar-owned and other private security cameras in January. Residents and businesses also can register cameras with the city via www.safecamnola.com. That private surveillance would put nearly every bar patron into the city's surveillance system.
What about privacy? "If you're in public, you don't have that expectation of privacy," Landrieu said. "People should conduct themselves accordingly."
The center will be manned largely by civilian staff with some New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) detectives, but also will be accessed by "public safety partners." It uses CommandCentral Aware software that connects to a computer-aided dispatch, allowing technicians to pull up cameras in areas associated with a crime report and begin piecing together a timeline, "so we're not just staring at cameras on a wall," said Aaron Miller, the city's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The program uses analytics to track down certain characteristics and collapses the viewing time for reviewing footage "to the time we're looking for," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. "The city of New Orleans is safer because of this investment. We believe going forward we'll be one of the safest cities in America."
2. Quote of the week
"Bless your heart!" — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise on Twitter, responding to comedian Rosie O'Donnell calling him "u f—ing liar."
O'Donnell was upset over passage of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Scalise's cheerful Southern sarcasm cast no balm on the waters. "ur life was saved asshole - do something with it," O'Donnell replied. "find ur morality - ur decency - stop lying about tax cuts for the rich and dedicate ur life to truth - damn it steve."
3. Landrieu to publish book on race relations next year
Mitch Landrieu is writing a book. In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History is an "unblinking memoir, history and prescription for finally confronting America's most painful legacy," according to his publisher Viking Press. It will be published in March 2018.
Landrieu told Gambit last week, "It really doesn't help to try and tell the story about why I made the ultimate decision without talking about the time I spent in the [state] Legislature, the time I spent as lieutenant governor, and then of course the time I spent as mayor — because it's all part of the context of the 300th anniversary [of New Orleans]."
"In his first book, Mayor Landrieu discusses his personal journey on race as well as the path he took to making the decision to remove the monuments, tackles the broader history of slavery, race and institutional inequities that still bedevil America, and traces his personal relationship to this history," Viking Press said in a statement. "His father, as state senator and mayor, was a huge force in the integration of New Orleans in the 1960s and 1970s. Landrieu grew up with a progressive education in one of the nation's most racially divided cities, but even he had to relearn Southern history as it really happened."
Landrieu's predecessor in office, Ray Nagin, wrote his own memoir, Katrina's Secrets, and former Gov. Bobby Jindal penned two books, Leadership and Crisis and American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic. Another former governor, Buddy Roemer, recently released a memoir of his childhood titled, Scopena: A Memoir of Home.
Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell has picked her District B Chief of Staff John Pourciau as a "point person" between Cantrell and Judy Reese Morse, who has led transition efforts in Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office for several months, in an effort to help the next mayor avoid what Landrieu inherited from former Mayor Ray Nagin. "We spent an inordinate amount of time just trying to understand how government was organized, what existed and where things even were," Landrieu said Nov. 21. "So much of our work in the early days was just trying to organize. ... I vowed to never leave the city in that shape for folks coming after us."
Cantrell plans to launch a "robust website" with transition details, and this week she'll participate in a seminar hosted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It's a "special session organized for newly elected mayors," Cantrell said. She previously had called for dismantling the deputy mayor system under Landrieu, and the mayor-elect said she plans to take a "deeper dive as far as what our structure will look like going forward." As for New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison and New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell, Cantrell said she doesn't plan to rush any decisions over their future in the administration.
"We owe the public this time to ensure we have a seamless transition and that leadership will be in place in May," she said. "As I've always said, those in the positions now ... will be considered (as candidates for jobs in the new administration), absolutely. We owe them that. They're boots on the ground right now and providing effective leadership."
Removing Landrieu-era traffic cameras — an early Cantrell campaign issue — still "is definitely a priority of mine," she said. "We'll be looking at that thoroughly through this transition period."
5. 'Sanctuary city' brouhaha at rest —
at least for now
Following caustic letters and threats, the dispute between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over New Orleans' compliance with federal immigration regulations seems to have reached an armistice after a Nov. 16 meeting between Landrieu, Sessions and U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.
Landrieu said the meeting went well — once again assuring the public that the feds agree that the city does not have "sanctuary" policies to harbor people living in the country illegally. And in a Nov. 17 letter to Landrieu, acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson wrote that the Department of Justice has found "no evidence" the city is noncompliant with federal law. Kennedy, who brokered the meeting earlier last month after apologizing to Sessions after Landrieu said Sessions used "fear-mongering and false accusations" to stir debate over so-called "sanctuary" policies, wanted New Orleans to meet two conditions: that the city notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within 48 hours of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) releasing an undocumented person, and that the city give ICE permission to interview an undocumented immigrant in custody.
Those "ICE holds," however, fall under the jurisdiction of Orleans Parish Prison. The jail previously was targeted by Sessions' "sanctuary" hunt.
"Our Police Department will continue to focus on arresting criminals — irrespective of their immigration status," Landrieu said in a statement. "In New Orleans, we pride ourselves on being a welcoming city. Diversity is a strength, and we will continue to make the city safe for everyone."
6. Independent Police Monitor's office
The New Orleans Community-Police Mediation Program (CPMP) in the Independent Police Monitor's office is looking for New Orleans residents who want to train as mediators in discussions between citizens and members of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). CPMP Director Jules Griff said in a statement, "This is a unique opportunity to be part of democratizing policing in our city, improving police accountability by giving space for civilians to directly address officer misconduct and using a restorative justice approach to create change in our public safety and criminal justice system."
The CPMP plans to hire 12 mediators, and applicants must be available for free training sessions to be held in March. A $75 stipend will be paid for each mediation. For more information or to apply, visit www.communitypolicemediation.org.
7. LGBT health and
aging seminar Dec. 2
New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) and Ochsner Pride host a symposium on LGBT health and aging Dec. 2 at Ochsner Health System's Jefferson Highway campus.
The symposium, which targets doctors, nurses, social workers, caretakers and other health care professionals, includes topics such as creating a welcoming environment in health care settings, aging with HIV, transgender health care, legal issues and other matters relevant to LGBT seniors. Serena Worthington, who directs the national LGBT elders group Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), is the keynote speaker. There's also a screening of Gen Silent, a documentary that follows the lives of several older LGBT people.
It's free to attend, and continuing education credits are available for participants. Contact NOAGE to register.
8. Amy Schumer returning for another Auld Lang Syne
On New Year's Eve 2016, comedian Amy Schumer headlined the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts before the ball dropped. She'll return to the theater for another round of New Year's comedy at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017.
9. Cirque du Soleil coming to Smoothie King Center
Cirque du Soleil kicks off a U.S. tour of its production Corteo March 2-4, 2018 at Smoothie King Center. The show is a modern circus with a story about Mauro the Dreamer, a clown who imagines his own funeral as a wildly festive parade, featuring acrobats performing on ladders, trampoline-like beds, a chandelier trapeze, teeter boards, acrobatic aerial rigging and more than 250 costumes. Corteo debuted in Montreal in 2005.
10. Free tickets for
Comedy Central specials
at Civic Theatre
Comedy Central will film another season of its Comedy Central Stand-up Presents ... at the Civic Theatre next month, with comedians performing 30-minute sets to be aired next year. The comics will perform across four shows, and tickets for each show are free and available at www.theblacklistnyc.com/ccsup. Ticket holders must be at least 18 years old to attend the shows. More details are available on the ticket website. Here's the lineup and schedule:
• Ryan O'Flanagan and Langston Kerman perform 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8.
• Megan Gailey and Devin Field perform 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8.
• Chris Garcia, Emmy Blotnick and Tim Dillon perform 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.
• Sarah Tiana and Mike Lawrence perform 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.