Holy Cross redevelopment plan sparks controversy in Lower 9th Ward — WWL-TV | Some residents near the old Holy Cross school say a plan to redevelop the site into medium-rise apartment towers is inappropriate and the modern design is out of character with the historic Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. Current zoning restrictions limit building height to four stories, but the development firm hopes to change that, allowing for two seven-story towers with 240 to 270 units. “It’s not the right development for the neighborhood. We want a development, but not this one,” one opponent told WWL-TV. The Lens covered a February meeting at which similar concerns were raised.
Monumental mistake: Demolishing World Trade Center to build a tourist attraction — The Lens | Roberta Brandes Gratz argues that New Orleans already has enough iconic attractions and doesn’t need a sculpture on the waterfront.
New Orleans-area ferry operations in flux, with Canal Street staying, Gretna docking — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | This story raises the possibility that maintenance problems contributed to the lack of ridership on the Gretna ferry, which will be shut down on July 1.
Gretna mayor-elect Belinda Constant said Tuesday she was disappointed to lose the ferry and blamed low ridership on the boats’ poor dependability because of chronic mechanical problems or, since late April, because the transportation department didn’t have enough staff to run it.
“You never know when it’s going to run or not, so people never had an opportunity to become dependent on it,” said Constant, a former City Council member who becomes mayor July 1.
Thursday, The Lens reported that the Algiers ferry will stop carrying cars on July 1.
Lawyer working on BP settlement claims suspended; report alleges misconduct — Associated Press
A lawyer working for the court-appointed administrator reviewing claims arising from BP’s Gulf oil spill has been accused of collecting portions of settlement payments from a New Orleans law firm to which he had once referred claims, a BP official with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The article notes that David Welker, the former head of the FBI in New Orleans who retired last year, is head of security for the claims administrator. Welker reported the alleged misconduct to the FBI.
Unanswered Questions Still Dog BP Defendant’s Curious Case – Forbes | The federal government accuses BP defendant Kurt Mix of deleting text messages, and energy blogger Loren Steffy wonders: “The case is curious, though, because it isn’t clear how exactly Mix’s actions obstructed justice. In fact, Mix, who pleaded not guilty to the earlier indictment last year, may have provided the government with the evidence it needed to charge BP with making false statements about the size of the oil spill.”
Why the City of Miami Is Doomed to Drown — Rolling Stone | Is it possible that Miami faces greater long-term existential risk than New Orleans? This article makes the case that Miami’s overdeveloped, ritzy coast gives it no protective buffer zone as seas rise and storms strengthen. In February, however, The Lens’ Bob Marshall reported on new research indicating that Louisiana faces the greatest rate of sea-level rise in the world.
Levees, removable walls in plan to protect NYC — Associated Press | Removable flood walls to protect Manhattan, levees around Staten Island, floodgates in Brooklyn — Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $20 billion flood protection proposal for New York City is nothing if not ambitious. It will be interesting, over the coming years, to track the progress of Bloomberg’s proposal with Louisiana’s similarly-ambitious $50 billion coastal restoration project.
Government & Politics
House rejects farm bill after clash over food stamps — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Farm bills make for interesting politics because they lump subsidies for farmers with food stamps for the poor. Both Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, opposed the bill — but for vastly different reasons. Scalise called it an “expanded welfare bill,” while Richmond said the bill would “snatch food from the mouths of children, seniors and disabled individuals.”
America’s shameful shakedown of BP – Financial Times (registration required) | BP is alarmed by the rising costs in its civil settlement for the oil spill. The Financial Times editors are “brassed off” on their behalf:
BP’s lawyers may have been somewhat lax in the way they drew up the settlement deal. But that is no excuse for stretching unduly the interpretation of what constitutes a valid claim or for calculating compensation in ways that opens the door to grotesque gaming by claimants, as the administrator seems to be doing. This not only goes against the spirit of the whole agreement; it also leads to an unjustifiably skewed distribution of compensation towards the brass-necked rather than the deserving.
With Friends Like These … — My Spilt Milk | On his blog, Alex Rawls writes: “It’s certainly possible to love music and dislike noise, but those holding that position should recognize that the people affected by their campaign are those who make the music they love. Is this a version of hate the sin/love the sinner?”
New Beginnings CEO taps former RSD principals to lead Capdau and Gentilly Terrace — The Lens | The article notes that Habans and Abramson, the previous schools run by the incoming principals, no longer exist.
Habans will be taken over by the Crescent City Schools charter operator in July. And Abramson permanently shut its doors to students May 23.
After a year in which three of four principals resigned, New Beginnings network leaders recently learned that one-third of school staff would not be returning next year.
Orleans Parish School Board seeks emergency meeting Monday after superintendent contract controversy — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
The Orleans Parish School Board staff is trying to schedule an emergency meeting for Monday (June 24) at noon, according to an email sent out by the Orleans Parish School Board administration. This proposed emergency meeting comes after several days of escalating tension between School Board President Ira Thomas and interim Superintendent Stan Smith, during which Thomas said Smith was working without a contract, and Smith said Thomas asked him to step down from the top post.