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I-10: Ten things to know in New Orleans this week: November 30, 2015

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1. COUNCIL'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG
How many plastic grocery bags do you have stuffed in a kitchen drawer? New Orleans City Council members LaToya Cantrell and Susan Guidry have introduced an ordinance that would require businesses to charge 10 cents for each plastic bag and up to 5 cents for unrecyclable paper bags. California instituted a statewide plastic bag law in 2014, and there is a growing list of more than 100 U.S. cities with similar restrictions.

  Guidry — who has had a version of the ordinance on the back burner since she took office in 2010 — said in a statement that "single-use bags produce a significant amount of waste in our city and are easily replaced with affordable, reusable options." Cantrell added that "reusable shopping bags are a much more sustainable alternative."

  The ordinance excludes customers using SNAP, WIC and LaCAP, and the "ban" doesn't extend to plastic bags used for take-out orders and Mardi Gras bead packaging — so don't expect to see fewer clear plastic bags blowing down St. Charles Avenue.

  The ordinance is supported by waste advocacy group No Waste NOLA, which gathered more than 1,000 signatures supporting a plastic bag ban. The full City Council likely will vote on the measure later this year.


2. Another Edwards speaks
"Democrats couldn't have a better candidate. Republicans couldn't have had a worse candidate. It don't happen like that very often." — Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, talking to The New York Times' Campbell Robertson at Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' victory party on Nov. 21 at the Hotel Monteleone.


3. Speaker Leger, 37, good for New Orleans
Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards throwing his support to state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, in the race for Louisiana House Speaker will only add to New Orleans' legislative clout once Leger locks up the necessary 53 votes. That won't take long. Right after House Republicans voted unanimously to demand a GOP speaker, about 20 of them reached out to Leger offering their support. "We stick together ... until we don't," laughed one GOP lawmaker. At 37, Leger will become one of the youngest state House Speakers in the nation.


4. LGBT workplace rankings in Louisiana
Nearly half of 851 U.S. companies met all the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) criteria for workplace equality for LGBT workers. Three Louisiana-based companies — the law firm of Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith; Entergy Corp.; and CenturyLink — were not in that number, but the HRC's 2016 Corporate Equality Index shows positive strides in its most recent survey. Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith scored 90 out of a possible 100; Entergy Corp. scored 85; and CenturyLink scored 75.

  The HRC's criteria include extending benefits to same-sex couples and instituting nondiscrimination policies. Only 366 companies met all equality criteria in last year's report, and there's been a 150 percent increase since 2012 in companies offering transgender-inclusive health coverage. However, only 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies include gender identity among nondiscrimination policy categories.

  The report also points out oil and gas companies still are far behind other industries in adopting LGBT-friendly workplaces. For more information, visit www.hrc.org.


5. JBE transition team: Brother, can you spare $5K?
Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' transition team is hard at work ... raising money. Relatively new campaign finance laws enacted under Gov. Bobby Jindal limit donations to gubernatorial transition teams to $5,000 per individual or entity. Edwards' transition team says it needs $3.5 million — almost all of it for research and the Inauguration. Most members of the team are volunteers. Among those said to be all too willing to give: some high-profile supporters of losing guv candidate David Vitter. The king is dead; long live the king.


6. Rihanna's coming to New Orleans
R&B star Rihanna's 2016 world tour will stop at the Smoothie King Center March 8, it was announced last week. Rihanna has just released her eighth major label album, Anti, and will spend much of next year on tour to promote it. General ticket sales for the New Orleans engagement begin Dec. 3.

  Other major performers who have announced 2016 New Orleans tour dates include Barry Manilow (Jan. 29, Smoothie King Center); Melissa Etheridge (Feb. 24, Orpheum Theater); Fall Out Boy (Mar. 19, Smoothie King Center); The Cure (May 10 and 11, UNO Lakefront Arena) and Maroon 5 (Sept. 5, Smoothie King Center).


7. Trombone Shorty concert to benefit needy kids
Musician Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews holds his second annual free "Tunes for Toys" concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at Tulane University's McAlister Auditorium. Attendees are asked to bring a new unwrapped toy. Donated toys will be distributed to needy children at Whole Foods Market's Broad Street location Dec. 21. Also on the bill: New Breed Brass Band, MainLine Brass Band and students from the Trombone Shorty Academy.


8. Rob Ryan's joke: funny or not?
Fired New Orleans Saints defensive coach Rob Ryan drew some flak last week when he told NFL GameDay that he thought blaming him entirely for the Saints' hapless defense was overblown. "I have a lot to do with it, but everything in New Orleans is being blamed on me, including (Hurricane) Katrina," Ryan said. He clearly was joking and had plenty of praise for the city and the fans — unlike former Saints coach Mike Ditka, who, after his 1999 firing, declared his time in New Orleans "the three worst years of my life."<
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9. Be on the lookout
Local satirical website Neutral Ground News issued a "high alert" about a "man attempting to regain entry into state." The man, one Bobby Jindal, was described as "mentally deranged and a threat to the finances of the state."

  The alert came several days after Jindal suspended his presidential campaign. "Investigators believe Jindal, a 44-year-old transient, could change his appearance in his attempt to gain entry into Louisiana and may go by the alias 'Bobby' or 'President,'" the website warned. "It is believed he once lived in Baton Rouge but according to reports he has spent the past few months in Iowa trying to recruit followers."


10. Seeking nominations: New Orleanian of the Year
Gambit is seeking nominations for its annual New Orleanian of the Year honor, a designation given to a local resident (or two) who made outstanding contributions to the area in 2015. Elected officials are not eligible.

  All nominations must include a brief biographical sketch and the reasons you believe the person deserves recognition.

  Email entries to response@gambitweekly.com, and put New Orleanian of the Year in the subject line. No phone calls, please. Nominations must be received by Wed., Dec. 9.

  The New Orleanian of the Year will be announced in Gambit Jan. 5, 2016.

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