1. LONDON CALLING
Regional officials joined executives from British Airways last week in announcing nonstop flights from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport — the first nonstop flight from New Orleans to Europe since 1982, according to Michael Hecht, president of Greater New Orleans Inc. The airline will fly a Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner with 214 seats and wil offer four flights a week (each way) beginning March 27, 2017.
British Airways immediately began making reservations after the Oct. 20 announcement. A check of the airline's website found nonstop economy flights from New Orleans to Heathrow going for $477 each way in March.
2. Quote of the week
"It's politics like the attorney general's that drove businesses away from North Carolina. If he continues to put his own political career ahead of the best interest of the citizens of Louisiana, he will do irreparable harm to our state."
— Gov. John Bel Edwards in a statement, reacting to state Attorney General Jeff Landry asking a judge last week to prohibit enforcement of Edwards' executive order ensuring state contracts include non-discrimination language relating to LGBT people. It's the latest dustup between the two men; a court ruled earlier this month that Landry could reject some state contracts over that language.
3. Budget time
The New Orleans City Council begins 2017 budget hearings this week, taking on what Mayor Mitch Landrieu calls his $614 million "fiscally prudent" budget that "focuses exactly on what the people told us to focus on." Landrieu unveiled his budget plans Oct. 17. They include a seventh consecutive year of funding increases for the New Orleans Police Department, with plans to hire 150 officers among other equipment needs and public safety measures. The budget also adds $3 million for street repairs and an additional $3 million for drainage updates.
The City Council holds budget hearings at 10 a.m. Oct. 26-28, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, Nov. 4, Nov. 7, and Nov. 9-11.
4. Hampton Inn, Marigny-style
Faubourg Marigny residents got a first look at renderings of a four-story Hampton Inn hotel planned for Elysian Fields Avenue — the first major hotel chain to break ground in the neighbor- hood. But residents are asking developers to make it look less like a chain and more in step with the character of the neighborhood.
The hotel's introduction to the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) on Oct. 17 was a relatively sedate one, compared to the heated debates in 2012 among residents, the city and developer Sean Cummings, who until recently owned the property and had plans to turn it into luxury apartments in 2012. Cummings abandoned plans for the Elysio Lofts after the New Orleans City Council denied a height variance that would have allowed Cummings to build up to 74 feet.
The Hampton Inn is shooting for a 50-foot height limit. That isn't the only point on which the FMIA was sold: With the group's objection to the practice of whole-home short-term rentals on websites like Airbnb, the FMIA sees a hotel in the neighborhood as a way to curb those types of rentals.
Hotel plans call for a two-tone maroon and yellow stucco exterior with a living wall along the first floor of the Decatur Street side, where there also will be trees lining the sidewalks and 60 parking spaces. Architect Francisco Alecha said the hotel plans likely will go before the New Orleans City Planning Commission and Historic District Landmarks Commission within the next few weeks.
5. Affordable housing exhibit on view
As chatter about Airbnb, gentrification and volatile rental markets flies fast and thick, a new exhibit at the Tulane School of Architecture's Tulane City Center/Small City Center (1725 Baronne St.) examines affordable housing issues in New Orleans.
Exhibit modules look at 125 years of national and local housing policy and define what makes housing affordable and for whom, following the stories of five fictional families at different income levels. The exhibit also breaks down measures from the national and international community, such as rent control, inclusionary zoning and land trust policies, and considers how they might affect New Orleans. The exhibit is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Jan. 27, 2017, and takes about an hour to view. Admission is free.
6. Safety dance
Two days after Mayor Mitch Landrieu unveiled a 2017 municipal budget that would add 55 red light cameras to the 66 already in use across the city (all in the name of safety), Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux issued a report finding 87 percent of signalized intersections in the city did not have pedestrian crossing signals — in direct contradiction of the goals of both the Master Plan and Complete Streets ordinance, as well as the city's Americans with Disabilities Act plan.
"Orleans Parish had more fatalities than any other parish in the state from 2013 to 2015," Quatrevaux's report concluded, "and more than twice the rate of pedestrian injuries than Jefferson or East Baton Rouge parishes."
7. Duke in next televised Senate debate
The first statewide televised U.S. Senate debate was held last week, with only five of the 23 candidates making the required cut (5 percent support in a statewide poll and $1 million in their respective war chests). That will change in the next debate, set for Nov. 2. An Oct. 20 poll by Raycom Media showed white supremacist and former state Rep. David Duke getting 5.1 percent of the statewide vote, which means he will join the frontrunners on the podium. Raycom's debate does not impose a fundraising minimum — just an independent poll showing at least 5 percent support.
The other five candidates who were at the Oct. 18 debate will return on Nov. 2. They are U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, state Treasurer John Kennedy (all three Republicans, as is Duke), Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and attorney Caroline Fayard (both Democrats). Trailing Duke and the others in the Raycom poll was Tea Party favorite Rob Maness, who had complained — loudly — about his exclusion from the first debate. In the Raycom poll, Maness managed 3.4 percent.
8. It's Pels time
The New Orleans Pelicans open their 2016-2017 season on Wednesday, Oct. 26 against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center, though it's unclear whether star forward Anthony Davis will make it to the wood. Davis suffered an ankle injury during a preseason game in China. Following last year's disappointing season, the Pelicans are banking on Davis and a few roster changes this season, including the addition of rookie guard Buddy Hield.
9. SNL guys at UNO
Former Saturday Night Live stars Adam Sandler and David Spade are bringing their comedy to UNO Lakefront Arena Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in a show called the "Here Comes the Funny Tour." Also on the tour are Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson. Tickets are on sale now.
10. Kennedy gets the Shtick
State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy's folksy phrasing ("I'd rather drink weed killer") has become a hallmark of Louisiana's largely dull U.S. Senate race, and the Baton Rouge satire website The Red Shtick (www.theredshtick.com) had some fun with his down-home diction. A guest column purportedly written by Kennedy began, "This race for U.S. Senate is crazier than a monkey writing a letter to Santa Claus in July. It reminds me of what my momma used to always tell me growing up in Zachary: 'You can't make a hog smile at itself in the mirror.' That woman was wiser than a toad on a rocket ship." Faux-Kennedy added, "I'm counting on the good people of this great state to realize you can't trust a mule eating waffles to pass the syrup."