City's Office of Neighborhood Engagement not yet ready to engage with everyone

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By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants some advice from neighborhood leaders on how he should set up his newly created Office of Neighborhood Engagement – but he only wants it from selected leaders, with no press coverage allowed.

Tonight’s invitation-only event is dubbed as a Neighborhood Engagement Charrette.

The e-mail invitation, which was sent to select neighborhood representatives, says it’s non-transferable and that space is limited.

The Lens, which obtained the e-mail, asked the city for a list of invitees and the list of those planning to attend, but the administration did not respond.

Landrieu recently hired a director for the office, Lucas Diaz, the former executive director of Puentes New Orleans. Diaz did not respond to a request for comment.

Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni said reporters will not be allowed to attend the meeting and didn’t say where the meeting would be held. He did not explain why the meeting was closed.

According to a press release issued by the city, the new office will be “the permanent mechanism for dialog, information sharing, partnership and action with neighborhood residents, leaders and organizations to improve the quality of life for the residents of the City of New Orleans.”

The release goes on to say that the office “will create avenues of engagement and through online and offline methods to provide open spaces for feedback on City initiatives.”

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