1. Charbonnet Way Out in Front in Fundraising
Campaign finance reports filed last week show mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet far outstripping her two main opponents in the race, Michael Bagneris and LaToya Cantrell. Charbonnet has raised $1,223,930 for the race, with more than $350,000 of that since July 7.
Bagneris has raised $644,100 since the beginning of the year, with $260,475 of that since July 7, while Cantrell has raised $469,281 since Jan. 1, $140,515 of that since July 7.
With less than a month to go before the primary (and less than two weeks before early voting), the cash-on-hand totals show an even broader disparity, with Charbonnet having approximately four times more to spend than her closest opponent. Charbonnet has $491,392 cash on hand, while Cantrell has $125,689 and Bagneris $103,479.
Early voting begins Sept. 30 and ends Oct. 7. The primary election is Oct. 14, with any runoff (if necessary) Nov. 18.
2. Quote of the week
"I don't see our leaders supporting the culture you like to flaunt and wave around and use. To be a better ambassador about the subject matter, you need to take a little time out your schedule and study the subject." — Black Men of Labor co-founder Fred Johnson to eight candidates for New Orleans mayor at a forum discussing the future of music and cultural policy at the Carver Theatre Sept. 11. Moderator Lolis Eric Elie said music and cultural policy is "one of the most important and least discussed aspects" of the campaign. Candidates largely agreed that a lack of affordable housing as well as inequitable event fees and unsustainable payouts for gigs have threatened artists' and their families' abilities to live in New Orleans.
All candidates agreed to change the fee structures for parades and events for social aid and pleasure clubs and masking groups and echoed a "music is not a crime" mantra — though each had different ideas for ensuring protections for musicians and workers in a cultural economy and how they'd be represented at City Hall under their respective administrations.
3. Mayoral forum at Xavier Sept. 26
New Orleans mayoral candidates Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet will participate in a forum hosted by African American Women of Purpose and Power and Urban League of Louisiana, along with more than 20 faith-based groups, businesses and other organizations, at Xavier University Sept. 26.
Former WDSU-TV reporter Camille Whitworth will moderate the forum with a focus on childcare, housing, public safety, environmental justice and climate change, mental health care and economic inclusion. The forum is 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. inside the ballroom on the third floor of Xavier's University Center on Drexel Drive.
4. Torres' political PAC to hold mayoral forum Sept. 27
After deciding not to enter the New Orleans mayoral race, Sidney Torres unveiled his PAC, The Voice of the People, described on its website as "a movement designed to inspire policy innovation and political engagement that will lead to the renewal and consistent rise of New Orleans." The PAC also released two ads (a 30-second and a 60-minute spot) and hired political consultant Greg Buisson, who represents many candidates in Jefferson Parish.
Now the PAC plans a mayoral forum that will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27 on WLAE-TV. The forum will be held at Loyola University's Roussel Hall and attendance is free for Orleans Parish voters. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; register online via Eventbrite.
5. LGBTQ leadership summit coming to Youth Empowerment Project
New Orleans LGBTQ advocacy group BreakOUT! will host a summit to teach leadership skills and help students build gender and sexuality alliance (GSA) groups at their schools. The group — which aims to end criminalization of LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth — also will offer space for teachers and school administrators covering transgender-affirming classrooms, legal rights of LGBTQ students, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline for LGBTQ and undocumented students.
The seminar runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 23-25 at the Youth Empowerment Project (1529 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.). Call (504) 252-9025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
6. Lens gets new publisher
The Lens, the New Orleans nonprofit newsroom that parted ways with publisher Steve Beatty last month, has a new publisher: Bill Ganon, a sales trainer and self-described "pitch coach" who founded the company Connect2Sell Training, which focuses on "presentation skills" and sales materials. Sources at The Lens, including inside the newsroom, say Ganon's role will be independent of news operations.
Beatty, who became the Lens' publisher in 2016 after serving as its editor for six years, was a veteran journalist with stints at The Times-Picayune and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
7. NOLA Tree Project branches out for Harvey relief
The NOLA Tree Project, which was founded in 2005 with the mission of replanting the 100,000 trees lost to Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, is branching out to help communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. The group (formerly Hike For KaTREEna) is organizing volunteer groups to continue the work of cleanup and gutting of houses. To volunteer, visit www.nolatreeproject.org, or drop off gift cards at St. Paul's Episcopal School (6249 Canal Blvd.), Lakeview Brew (5606 Canal Blvd.) or Coffee Rani on the Northshore (234 Lee Lane, Covington and 3517 Hwy. 190, Mandeville).
8. OPSB sets new policies for immigration agents on campus
The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has approved new guidelines that immigrant advocacy groups hope will protect students from law enforcement interaction and intimidation.
"School should be a safe place for all children," OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. said in a statement Sept. 15. "The Orleans Parish School Board holds this as a basic principle."
The policies provide guidelines for school administration for what to do when law enforcement and immigration agents arrive on a campus. The policies (which apply only to direct-run OPSB schools) clarify that "such investigations should not disrupt the education environment at school sites."
Law enforcement must report to the school's principal and explain why a student must be interviewed, and whether law enforcement has a warrant seeking student data or access to the student. The school also must make "every reasonable effort" to notify the student's parents or guardian before an interview takes place.
Family advocacy group Our Voice/Nuestra Voz attributed the vote's success to parent-, teacher- and community-level organizing around the issue. The group demanded OPSB adopt a student protection policy at an OPSB meeting in July.
"With this vote they have demonstrated that schools are for education and not an extension of the criminal justice system," Nuestra Voz Co-founder Henry Jones said in a statement. "This is a great first step, now it is about implementation. We look forward to working with all the other school boards across the city to pass this policy and to ensure access to education."
The New Orleans City Council also passed a resolution Sept. 14 calling on the U.S. Congress to preserve DACA and grant "dreamers" permanent legal status. The resolution "lets our dreamers know that we support them, we appreciate them, and we admire their bravery," District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.
9. Tennessee Williams Fest lineup released
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival returns March 21-25, 2018, highlighted by speaker events, literary seminars and readings, theater performances, panels and other events. Speakers include All Grown Up's Jami Attenberg, Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell, Detroit and Airline Highway playwright Lisa D'Amour and writer Walter Isaacson, among others.
Concurrent stagings during the fest include Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre's presentation of Williams' signature play A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Maxwell Williams, and Southern Rep will run Williams' one-act And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens, directed by Ricky Graham. The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will present One Arm, Moises Kaufman's adaptation of a Williams short story. Williams' women characters are the focus of "The Women of Williams," hosted by D'Amour and featuring women who have portrayed his characters to read his scenes and discuss his work. There also are tribute readings, writing contests, and the simultaneous 15th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, the annual LGBT literary event. Tickets go on sale in January.
10. Doug Benson coming to Cafe Istanbul
Comedian Doug Benson, whose stoner persona flies high in his podcasts "Doug Loves Movies" and "Getting Doug With High," will perform at Cafe Istanbul Nov. 5. Benson, host of standup specials and his own Comedy Central series The High Court, will perform at — you guessed it — 4:20 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.