Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Riley, Jordan Agree to Drug Field-Tests

Riley said the district attorney's office will now accept the results of police field-testing kits, used to confirm suspected drugs are the real thing, with one caveat: that police turn over a lab report within 24 days. It's just one example of a compromise in the often testy relationship between the two departments. The issue over the use of the kits, which have been relied upon more in the absence of a fully functioning crime lab, came to a head in February during a City Council subcommittee hearing. During the hearing, council members demanded answers and less finger-pointing from Jordan and Riley.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Someone Really Does Not Like Tom Fitzmorris

"Shut Up and Write About Food!" says its mission is to "document 'the self-important voice' of New Orleans' most pompous food critic, Tom Fitzmorris."

Morial Slams Danziger 7

In a letter to the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marc Morial — a former New Orleans mayor — asked that the caucus support a federal civil rights investigation into the "circumstances surrounding the police killing of two unarmed African-American men and the wounding of four others." "What's the matter he doesn't have faith in Eddie Jordan?" said attorney Frank DeSalvo, who represents one of the officers. "I don't know what motivates these people to do what they do. I assume there is a political reason for it."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Occupancy Rate Near Sellout for Carnival

More than 95 percent of the city’s 30,000 available rooms had been reserved for Mardi Gras weekend, up from 92 percent during Carnival’s first weekend.


From City Business:

Police Superintendent Warren Riley and District Attorney Eddie Jordan apparently dislike each other so much they pull audacious stunts such as delaying reports and releasing guilty criminals to antagonize and embarrass each other. At least those are the excuses each man offered when asked last week by the City Council to explain their ineffectiveness.

The dysfunctional relationship is the antithesis of what is needed in New Orleans today. The feud between Jordan and Riley hurts all of us by reducing the city’s ability to fulfill its responsibility to combat crime.

Endymion to Return to Mid-City in 2008?

Errol Laborde interviewed Mayor Nagin on PBS last night, and Nagin sounded very optimistic about Endymion returning to Mid-City next year. New Orleans bloggers are ready for Endymion to return to its home. See here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Arthur Hardy's Blog

Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras blog.

Mardi Gras Parades

Uptown: Zulu (8:00ish), Rex (10:00), Elks Orleans (11:30) and Crescent City (after Elks).
West Bank: Grela (11:00 and Choctaw (noon).
Metairie: Argus (10:00), followed by Jefferson Trucks and Elks Jefferson.
Covington: Lions (10:00), followed by Covington.

Flambeaux History

Article here.

Lundi Gras Parades

Uptown: Proteus (5:15) and Orpheus (5:45).
Metairie: Zeus (6:30).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday Parades

Uptown: Okeanos (11:00), Thoth (11:30), Mid-City (2:00) and Bacchus (5:15).
West Bank: Adonis (12:00).
Metairie: Napoleon (5:30).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Britney Spears Shaves her Head

Louisiana native Britney Spears was spotted at a Los Angeles area tattoo parlor with a shaved head. "Some fans that were interviewed after Spears departed declared the new look less than flattering." You don't say.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Saturday's Parades

Uptown: Iris (11:00), Tucks (12:30) and Endymion (4:30).
West Bank: NOMTOC (10:45).
Metairie: Isis (6:00).

Pelosi Gives Jefferson Homeland Security Position Despite Security Risk

Freezer full of cash? Check. Vote for U.S. surrender in Iraq? Check. Result? Censure? Impeachment? Nope -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rewards Congressman Bill Jefferson with a coveted position on the House Homeland Security panel. "But he's not a security risk!"

Rep. Peter King responds:

"It sends a terrible message," said King, R-N.Y. "They couldn't trust him to write tax policy, so why should he be given access to our nation's top secrets or making policy for national defense?"

"Members of the committee have access to intelligence secrets, plots here in the country, overseas, and people under suspicion. This shows how unimportant the Democrats think homeland security is," King said.

Texting for Dollars

Unable to attract much interest in corporate sponsorship of Carnival, the City is begging high school and college kids to text them a few bucks. They are also hitting up hotel guests with pillow top solicitations, so in case any tourists feel they haven't been gouged enough by the hotel-motel tax, sales tax, etc., they can text a few dollars to the City via Paypal. Tacky.

Rep. Jefferson Votes for Non-Binding Resolution

Rep. Bill Jefferson speaks on the House floor for U.S. surrender against the surge in Iraq.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Friday Parades

Uptown: Hermes (6:00), Krewe D'Etat (6:30) and Morpheus (7:45).
Metairie: Aquila (7:00) and Jason (7:30).
Mandeville: Orpheus (7:00).
Slidell: Selene (6:30).

Petition Asks Eddie Jordan to Resign

Online petition says:
We, the undersigned, call on you District Attorney Eddie Jordan to do the right thing by the people of the great city of New Orleans -- resign with some dignity.

Resign now before this informal petition turns into a formal recall petition.
See Signal 26.

E-Mail from Shelly Midura about Crime

Dear District A Resident,

The level of violent crime currently plaguing New Orleans is intolerable. I know you are all angry, impatient, and looking towards your city's elected officials for leadership and an appropriate response. I share your anger and impatience. Our stakes are no less than the recovery of the great American city of New Orleans. We need a smarter, more effective criminal-justice system. Without functional, evidence based, accountable and effective public safety there is no recovery. As an elected official, I get that. We have no higher priority than the safety of New Orleans. But reform means doing things differently if we want a different result.

New Orleans, you deserve accountability from your government. We have a responsibility to deliver. While it takes money to solve some of our crime problems, money alone will never be the answer. The city has allocated close to 1/3 of our general fund to the criminal-justice system. We were averaging over 100,000 arrests per year before Katrina in a city of 460,000 people. We had the nation's 4th largest city jail and the world's highest incarceration rate. We currently have more law enforcement patrolling our streets in New Orleans than we have ever had before in our city's history. Yet despite all the millions of dollars, record numbers of law enforcement patrols, massive incarceration, and hundreds of thousands of arrests, the bottom line is that these traditional policies have still failed to make us safer.

We have heard from countless citizens about the impact of crime on their everyday lives. Whether it's the murder count, whether it's the recent armed mugging in the parking lot of Gulfstream on St. Charles, the attempted break-in in broad daylight on the 1400 block of State Street, or the various other incidents of crime in District A or elsewhere in the City. We are on it. Public safety is our number one priority.

We are facing a crisis that threatens the survival of our great city and this crisis requires an immediate triage in response as well as a plan for the longer term. Short term steps are under way to address the crisis - increased police visibility, foot patrols, increased street lighting, and after-dark checkpoints around the city. In the longer term the Council has been actively engaged in mapping a reform process with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of all our city's multiple criminal justice agencies. We need our police and district attorneys to work more closely together to ensure quality investigations and better prosecution of violent criminals. We need a higher functioning system that works with all its parts more seamlessly and efficiently. We need greater accountability, increased transparency, and reforms derived from data, research, and evidence. As a member of the Council, I commit to you that I will be vigilant in oversight of our struggling criminal justice system. But in order to for us to truly survive this crisis we must do even more, we must rise to the challenge and begin to think altogether differently about crime.

My office has been actively engaged on the issue and has worked especially closely with Councilmember Head and Councilmember Carter who have provided great leadership by reaching out to best practitioners around the country to help New Orleans solve our crime problem and by working to hold our system accountable. As we've researched successful models around the country we've discovered how different our system is in New Orleans compared to others and we've found some lessons learned and basic principles to guide us as we rebuild our city's criminal justice system. The Boston model has taught us the importance of options for judges, for programs and a strong social services support infrastructure that New Orleans currently lacks. New York teaches us the importance of data in driving policy solutions and the allocation of resources whether it's the deployment strategy of police through compstat or whether it's the detention policy determining who belongs in jail and who does not. Efficiency has got to be one of our principles when we are already spending close to 1/3 of our general fund on police and detention and our city is strapped for funds with so many other existing financial responsibilities.

We've also learned the importance of professionalism versus politics. Just as I believe it makes good sense for levee boards to be managed by engineers instead of politicos, I also believe that we must minimize the influence of political power in our criminal justice system so that it does not compete with the interests of public safety. We must insist upon increased professional standards from police who are charged not only with making arrests, but also with conducting complex investigations, writing quality police reports, and engaging neighborhoods and soliciting witness and community participation in the crime fighting process. When only 2% of a police force has a college education it may adversely affect the quality of investigations and the strength of a criminal case. If Chief Riley requests it, I would fully support measures and funding incentives to aid him in recruiting and retaining more qualified police officers.

In November this council addressed the pay issue for police by increasing their salaries, along with other city workers, by 10%. The Council went even further with the District Attorney's office by increasing the salaries of prosecutors by 30% to raise the average starting salary from $35k to $50k. Our job is to equip these agencies with the tools they need to do their jobs and then to provide oversight to ensure they are administrating effectively. The crime committee council meeting on Monday at 1:30 is open to the public and is a function of our responsibility to provide oversight and hold departments accountable.

I am more than seriously concerned by Thursday's Times Picayune report that states that there has only been one conviction out of the 162 murders from 2006. No reasonable citizen can find that kind of performance by our criminal justice system acceptable. It is, in fact, outrageous. We have an across the board breakdown in multiple agencies. We need a closer working relationship between police and prosecutors to ensure investigations and cases are as strong as possible to hold violent criminals accountable. We need a detention system that reduces recidivism. We need courts that prioritize cases involving violent criminals who pose a serious public safety threat.

Crime is not the cause of a city dying. Crime is the symptom of a city dying. Crime is the sound of a city dying. If we truly want a final solution for public safety, we will need a much stronger public education system and we will need to expand our city's middle class by offering our poorer and working class citizens economic mobility with better paying job opportunities. And while the recent civic activism around the issue demonstrates how engaged you all are as citizens, I encourage you to remain organized and vigilant. I am reminded of the great success and reforms brought on by active citizens in reforming our system for levees and assessors by demanding they be managed by professionals rather than by politics. We need those same principles, public passion, and organization to reform our criminal justice and public education systems. Our city's recovery and long term future depend on it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nagin and Riley Held in Contempt of Court in Illegal Gun Confiscation Suit

The federal judge in the National Rifle Association's lawsuit against the City granted NRA’s motion to hold Mayor Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley in contempt of court for “failure to provide initial disclosures and to compel answers to discovery” during NRA’s injunction against the City for their illegal gun confiscation of law abiding citizens following Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

Thursday's Parades

Uptown: Babylon (5:45), Chaos (6:30) and Muses (7:30).

Bill Jefferson Sued by Stockholder of Company He Took Money From

A looming criminal indictment is not Congressman Bill Jefferson's only worry. A former stockholder in a technology company sued him and a former business associate Tuesday, claiming they bilked stockholders by using business funds to pay bribes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Errol Laborde's Carnival Lists and Notes

Link here for lots of Carnival info.

City Council Grills Jordan and Riley

Monday's session seems fairly unproductive.

Both New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley and District Attorney Eddie Jordan said they are eager to work together to quash surging city crime. But the meeting ended with a fair share of finger-pointing and few resolutions.

The pair's fractured working relationship was on full display as council members pressed the two men on the state of their departments and the high rate of release and the low rate of conviction of arrested individuals, tying those problems to a lack of cooperation between their offices.

Wednesday's Parades

Uptown: Druids (6:00).
Metairie: Thor (7:00).

Get Out Of Jail Free After 60 Days

The criminals are on to Eddie Jordan, to noone's surprise:

On recent FBI wiretaps, agents can hear criminal suspects muttering about "misdemeanor murders," code for doing hardly any time at all for the worst crime on the books.

On street corners and in the grungy holding tanks at parish prison, they have another name for it: "701," shorthand for Article 701 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. It states that no one can be held longer than 60 days on a felony arrest without an indictment.

Sometimes a 701 release merely eliminates a bond posted by a suspect in order to remain at liberty pending a trial. But in other cases, the 701 springs a murder suspect from jail because prosecutors have failed to meet the 60-day deadline, and that's been happening with astonishing frequency -- a tenfold increase -- in the widely criticized New Orleans criminal justice system since Hurricane Katrina.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Other N.O. Bloggers on Crime

Nola Mom.
Ernie The Attorney.
The Third Battle of New Orleans.

Additional Questions for Eddie Jordan

As I reported earlier, the City Council has requested that District Attorney Eddie Jordan and Police Superintendent Warren Riley address the Council on twelve topics. Here are some other questions the City Council may want to ask Mr. Jordan:

13. Where have you been? We haven't seen much of you since Hurricane Katrina.

14. When you were U.S. Attorney, why didn't you prosecute Cleo Fields? You had an elected official on videotape shoving a huge wad of cash from Governor Edwards down his trousers, and you let him walk? Why? What honorable public purpose did you think was served by that all-cash transaction? It didn't have anything to do with the fact that you and Mr. Fields share a cozy relationship with Congressman Jefferson, who knows a thing or two about all-cash transactions, does it?

15. Let's assume the newly hired president of a company comes in and fires all the white employees, and the company is then ordered to pay a multi-million dollar judgment in addition to owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Should that president immediately resign or be fired?

16. Why has your office failed to bring charges against so many criminals within 60 days of arrest, resulting in their being set free? Do you think putting violent criminals back on the streets will encourage witnesses and victims to come forward?

17. How many first degree murder convictions has your office achieved since Hurricane Katrina? (Answer: none).

Commercialization of Carnival Fails

The City's effort to further commercialize 2007 Carnival has been a failure. What's next? Tostitos Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras, Presented by AT&T?

Navy Destroyer Visits New Orleans for Carnival

The Navy destroyer USS Mitscher is scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on Friday for a six-day port call associated with Mardi Gras. The Mitscher will be berthed at the Gov. Nichols Street Wharf and will be open for visits Saturday through Mardi Gras from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Eddie Jordan and Warren Riley Called to City Council Meeting

The City Council has asked District Attorney Eddie Jordan and Police Superintendent Warren Riley to appear at a meeting tomorrow. Here is a list of the twelve issues to be addressed at the meeting. The most significant is the high number of 701 releases. 701 refers to the release of a suspect if charges are not brought by the DA within 60 days of the arrest.

Today's Parades

Uptown: Carrollton (noon) and King Arthur (1:15).
French Quarter: Barkus (2:00).
West Bank: Alla (noon).
Metairie: Rhea (3:30) and Centurions (4:15).
Chalmette: Nemesis (2:00).
Slidell: Dionysus (1:00).

Stop the Crime

Crime seems to have moved to the forefront of the local discussion recently, and for good reason. If you live Uptown, no doubt you've received e-mails warning of criminal activity in the past week, such as the armed robbery at Gulf Stream and attempted break-ins on State Street and Henry Clay. Coverage of crime now dominates the local media and has spilled over to the national media.

For an idea of how to effectively fight crime, see Rudy Giuliani's book "Leadership." In it, he talks at great length about how he transformed New York City after years of neglect. It is often referred to offhandedly as the Broken Windows Theory, but that is overly simplistic. It started with the premise that addressing conduct that had previously been thought of as minor nuisances to which the criminal justice system should not be allocating its limited resources, such as public intoxication, littering and loitering, would help foster an attitude of lawfulness throughout the city, but it quickly led to far greater results. Officials found that some of the people arrested for these petty crimes were wanted for other, far more significant crimes, for which they could now be charged and prosecuted.

The success built upon itself and led to objectively remarkable evidence of greatly reduced crime and improved quality of life. As part of the process, Giuliani tracked crime statistically and would grill his subordinates to achieve results, neighborhood by neighborhood. The thoughtful analysis of the statistics helped them understand the causes of some of the crime and anticipate some of it before it happened, allowing them to effectively redeploy resources as needed. Rudy held himself and his subordinates accountable at every step of the process.

Giuiliani's system had three hallmarks: competence, leadership and accountability. Unfortunately, we in New Orleans are stuck with elected officials who lack all three qualities. Therefore, any success in fighting crime will likely need to come from the bottom up rather than from the top down.

Report crime and demand that it be punished, whether a lesser quality of life issue or a more significant crime. Demand action from the Mayor, the District Attorney, the Police Superintendent and the City Council. Replace Eddie Jordan as District Attorney, and not with another political hack but with a competent leader who will achieve results. Replace those criminal court judges who are more concerned with criminals' rights than victims' rights.

Support groups and organizations involved in the fight on crime, such as: Signal 26, Nola Against Crime, Crime Stoppers, Silence is Violence, Vest Up, PANO, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, Danziger 7 and the like (post a comment here if there are other worthwhile groups I inadvertently neglected to mention). Take action to protect you and your families from crime. There are many good resources on the internet for information on home defense and related subjects.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

New Orleans at the Time of the First Comus Parade

From New Orleans Magazine:

One hundred fifty years ago the Mistick Krewe stages its first parade. Would the marchers recognize the sites along the route today?

The New Orleans that Comus first saw is little changed in some ways. The street network in the French Quarter and business district is much as it was in 1857, and Canal Street remains the “neutral ground.” When Comus first rolled, he didn’t go outside of the American sector where St. Charles, Camp and Magazine were – and are – principal streets. Even some of the buildings would be recognizable to the first Comus.

Jefferson Parish Gives $100,000 to Crimestoppers

Good job by the Jefferson Parish leadership.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Saturday's Parade Schedule

Uptown: Pontchartrain (1:00); Shangri-La (2:00); Sparta (6:00); and Pegasus (6:45).
Metairie: Caesar (6:00).
Covington: Olympia (6:00).

Trash Update

The city's sanitation department has started rolling out personalized, bar-coded trash collection carts complete with instructions on the "do's and dont's of waste disposal." All carts are expected to be delivered within 6 to 8 weeks.

Curbside recycling, discontinued in most of the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina, is unlikely to come back anytime soon because there is nowhere to send the used newspapers, bottles and cans.

City Business is calling for a needed increase in public trash cans.

Friday Night Parades

Uptown: Oshun and Pygmalion.
Metairie: Atlas and Excalibur.
West Bank: Cleopatra.
Mandeville: Eve.

FEMA Wants Its Money Back

I am shocked to report that some people may have defrauded FEMA out of aid money in the free money giveaway that the federal government implemented after the storm. Now, FEMA wants its money back. Good luck collecting it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

John Georges Puts $2 Million into Governor's Race

John Georges has contributed $2 million to his gubernatorial campaign. “I have placed $2 million of my own money into the John Georges for Governor account,” said Georges. “Considering what we are all going through, the people of Louisiana deserve a choice for our next leader and I am willing to put my résumé of business success and public service against the others in this race. We are all tired of politicians telling us what we want to hear, we need someone who is going to actually do something."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Breaux Hosts Blanco Fundraiser

Former Senator John Breaux will host a fundraiser for Governor Blanco's reelection tomorrow night in Washington D.C. Surprising that he would support her this early on when many think she will drop out of the race or be forced out by Democrats who know she has no chance of winning in October.

Drew Brees to Reign as Grand Marshall of Bacchus

Saints quarterback Drew Brees will be the grand marshal for Bacchus 2007.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Onion: FEMA Calls Rebuilding Complete

"Our job here is done," said Paulison, who was joined by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco in a ceremony along the banks of the Industrial Canal. "Our beloved Big Easy has its soul back. The downtown shops are open and in full violation of code, the nightlife is alive with the sound of violence, and the streets are once again safe for poverty and vice." Full story here.

Sen. Vitter Endorses Bobby Jindal

Senator David Vitter has endorsed Bobby Jindal for Governor. "While we need allies from both political parties in Washington, we get political attacks and whining that turns off many of these potential allies. In short, while we need leadership and solutions, we get finger-pointing and excuses."

Instapundit's Thoughts on the Competence of Louisiana Politicians

"A tradition of competence in Florida . . . . Louisiana, not so much." An understatement. Link here.

Boasso Enters Race for Governor

Republican State Senator Walter Boasso has decided to challenge Governor Blanco in the October 20, 2007 election. "The state is a mess and somebody has got to clean it up," Boasso said in the statement. "I've decided I'm the one to do it."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Colts Win the Super Bowl

Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, 29-17.

The Sport Guy Calls for a Super Bowl in N.O. Every Three Years

ESPN.com's The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, calls for a permanent rotation of the Super Bowl between only three cities, New Orleans, Miami and San Diego.

Landrieu Wishes Terrorists Blew Up Levees

Sen. Mary Landrieu's outrageous comment:
“I often think we would have been better off if the terrorists had blown up our levees,” she said. “Maybe we’d have gotten more attention.”

Federal City Plan Proceeding

A reduction in financing for the military base realignment process shouldn't hinder plans to transform the Naval Support Activity's Algiers base into a campus for military and government agencies, Louisiana officials say.