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Week in Review: City Council again approves short-term rental freeze

City Council again approves short-term rental freeze

The city’s freeze on the most popular type of short-term rental license got one step closer to being codified in municipal law last week.

The city council unanimously voted to accept the recommendations of the City Planning Commission, which endorsed the temporary ban in July.

There is only one more council vote standing in the way of the moratorium’s formal establishment in city law. That vote must take place within the next 90 days, at which point Mayor LaToya Cantrell will be forced to weigh in by either signing the amendment into law or vetoing it.

Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer said the vote would take place “in a few city council meetings.”

The city council launched a nine-month freeze on new and renewed temporary short-term rental licenses — the most common of the three types of short-term rental licenses issued by the city — in May.

The measure applies to whole-home rentals in residential neighborhoods, but it doesn’t cover the entire city. It affects the Central Business District and certain historic neighborhoods that have become the most popular areas for short-term rentals, including Faubourg Marigny, Bywater, Treme, Mid-City, and much of Uptown. Though the freeze went into effect at the time, it has not yet been formally adopted into law.

The Lens’ Airbnb Tracker tracks the first year of short-term rental license applications in New Orleans.

Investigation into Entergy paid actor scandal delayed by new cache of evidence

The results of an investigation into the use of actors who were paid to appear at New Orleans City Council meetings in support of a proposed Entergy New Orleans power plant — originally due last week — will likely be delayed until October.

The City Council approved Councilwoman Helena Moreno’s motion to extend the deadline for 45 days, to October 19. Investigators requested the delay after recently receiving new records from Entergy New Orleans.

In August, the city signed a contract with a team of attorneys from the law firm of Sher, Garner, Cahill, Richter, Klein & Hilbert — led by former federal prosecutor Matt Coman — and retired Judge Calvin Johnson to conduct a 30-day investigation into Entergy’s role in the scandal.

But in the past few weeks, Entergy has given investigators an additional trove of documents, according to Moreno’s chief of staff Andrew Tuozzolo. He said that the deadline extension is necessary to give the investigators sufficient time to sort through the new evidence.

The company provided the new documents to investigators, rather than the city council’s utility regulatory office. It’s not clear what the new documents are or why they weren’t included in a batch of records the company provided to the council in June.

Lens fake subpoena suit against New Orleans DA goes before state appeals court

The Lens was in court last week, continuing the fight for fake subpoenas in our public records lawsuit against Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro is appealing an Orleans Parish judge’s ruling that ordered his office to produce 16 months of so-called “DA subpoenas,” a term the office used to describe documents purporting to be actual subpoenas, appearing to compel witnesses and crime victims to appear for private interviews with prosecutors by threatening fines and jail time. The documents, however, were legally worthless.

After the office refused to provide fake subpoenas in response to a public records request, The Lens sued last year. In his October ruling, Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ordered Cannizaro’s office to “eat the elephant one bite at a time” and start producing DA subpoenas in closed cases and cases that the DA’s office had rejected.

But after combing through thousands of case files and providing one subpoena to The Lens, the DA’s office appealed Reese’s order.

Even as Reese’s order was put on hold, pending the outcome of the appeal, the DA’s office was combing through tens of thousands of cases to find fake subpoenas prosecutors had used. That effort came as a response to a request from the New Orleans City Council for a tally of DA subpoenas issued between 2014 and 2016.

This summer, the office identified an additional 249 fake subpoenas from that period and provided them to The Lens.

Those 249 fake subpoenas only partially satisfy Lens Editor Charles Maldonado’s April 2017 public records request, from which the lawsuit stems.

College today: pricey socialist hotbed or merciless exploiter of untenured labor?

Educator C.W. Cannon opines on college in America today.

He writes, the “reality-based concern is the cost of college. Democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders say it should be free, which is a solution that appeals to students and parents as much as it fuels anti-college hysteria on the right.

Conservative attacks on liberal arts education, and on the people engaged in it, are not new, but they’ve intensified under Trump. I can’t help but take their attacks personally, since I am part of the craven “cultural elite” that conservatives love to demonize. My paycheck isn’t very elite, however — after 20 years of teaching, I make less than a New Orleans cop in her first year on the NOPD payroll.

But the whole point of rhetoric against “cultural elites” is to distract from the economic elites who actually wield power in our society. Oops, I did it again! — spouting socialist ideology, the idea that rich people are the ones who hold power in a capitalist society. Conservatives can call that point of view “elitist” (according to their twisted Orwellian logic), and they can call it “ideological,” but they can’t call it untrue.”

What we’re reading: Old John McDonogh High School building gets transformation as Bricolage moves in

The Advocate’s Della Hasselle reports on the reopening of the John McDonogh High School building on Esplanade Avenue. The historic high school is now home to Bricolage Academy, a growing charter school.

After John Mac’s contentious closure a few years ago — and as a group called the John McDonogh Steering Committee attempted to reclaim the school and turn it over to the Orleans Parish School Board — the Recovery School District announced it was reassigning the building to an elementary school, and put out a call for public bids, Hasselle writes. The district chose Bricolage.

The Joseph S. Clark Alumni Association is holding a protest in front of John Mac Saturday morning. Clark is closing at the end of this school year. The group is protesting the closure of both high schools.

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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.