Sheltering out of place: Marigny, 9th Ward tenants trapped in squalid conditions — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Richard Webster’s series on the problems of low-income renters is well worth your time. Thousands of New Orleanians live in horrendous units because they can’t afford a better place, but landlords hold most of the legal cards in Louisiana. Thus, maintenance is often “deferred” indefinitely, and when renters do leave, they often don’t get their security deposits back. Municipal and state enforcement is lax, and poor renters don’t have the wherewithal to fight slumlords. I recommend all the stories in the “Boarder Security” series, which include “Advocates push for stronger tenant laws, enforcement in Louisiana” and “Mid-City residents use Louisiana Supreme Court ruling to evict nuisance neighbors.”
Large eyesores wearing on Algiers neighbors — The Advocate | The former Higgins Gate apartment complex, now a debris pile, is one of several large eyesores in Algiers.
Groups oppose Duck plan — The Advocate | The Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates’ board oppose open-air “Duck tours” — boats on wheels that drive sightseers around town. “In particular, VCPORA said it is worried about noise from the open-air vehicles since the tours feature amplified music and riders are given ‘duck quacker’ noisemakers.”
After fourth family member is shot to death, 70-year-old says: ‘This city is not safe’ — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “May 17 was the sixth time 70-year-old Rebecca Glover had seen a loved one in the hospital with gunshot wounds.”
At Orleans Parish Prison, a new building isn’t going to solve the problems: Editorial — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Court documents indicate the new prison — the one expected to conform to constitutional guidelines — does not have adequate space for mentally ill inmates or those who are suicide risks, nor does it include an infirmary.
Government & Politics
HANO will remain under HUD control past July as city grapples with other oversight issues — The Lens | A year ago, the HUD secretary said the federal agency planned to return the Housing Authority of New Orleans to local control — after essentially being in control of HANO since 1996. Now, it appears that HUD will keep the reins past July, the scheduled end of the contract with HANO’s federally appointed head.
Analysis: Lawmakers don’t follow their rhetoric – Associated Press | Fiscal discipline comes from their lips, but new laws would raise the debt cap and hamstring future budgets with more dedicated funding.
Louisiana government is making itself off limits to the public: Robert Mann — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Robert Mann makes a strong debut in The Times-Picayune’s opinion pages:
The governor’s devotion to secrecy has even infected the state’s Department of Education, where his allies have erected a virtual Jericho wall of secrecy. …
As [Tom] Aswell, The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com and others have demonstrated, those denied public records can sue, but they rarely do. Lawyers aren’t cheap.
So, what’s the chance an average citizen can afford a lawsuit? Indeed, what’s the chance an average citizen would even know how to request a public document?
Hoping to answer that question, I phoned a half-dozen state agencies to ask this simple question, “What’s the name of your department’s custodian of public records?”
Last month, state politics observer C.B. Forgotston raised the issue about unidentified custodians for public records.
Louisiana: the high price of low expectations — Something Like the Truth | A lengthy guest post at Robert Mann’s blog by James Freeman, who distills years of his gripes into one post. In short, Louisiana has a cultural problem that allows it to tolerate political foolishness and poor results. This is a long rant, but it shouldn’t be skimmed. Highlights include the heartbreaking disrepair that Baton Rouge Magnet High School fell into and this contrarian thought experiment: Sure, the Kingfish was foul in some respects, but would Louisiana be further behind without him?
David Vitter’s hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment – Salon.com | Vitter wants to deny food stamps to convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles — for life. This might seem satisfying in a tough-on-crime kind of way, but wouldn’t it actually discourage rehabilitation by removing safety nets for those trying to rejoin society?
Privatization review bill shelved by Louisiana Senate committee — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “A bill requiring a more thorough review of privatization plans was shot down by a Louisiana Senate committee Monday. The measure, opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, had already received unanimous approval of the state House.”
States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest – The New York Times
Jonathan E. Chapman, the executive director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association, which represents more than two dozen community health centers, described the situation in his state this way: “If the breadwinner in a family of four works full time at a job that pays $14 an hour and the family has no other income, he or she will be eligible for insurance subsidies. But if they make $10 an hour, they will not be eligible for anything.”
After voucher decision, Course Choice cut to pilot status — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
Following the school voucher ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court, Education Superintendent John White said Friday that the state is scaling back its Course Choice mini-voucher program. His announcement came amid new data that raises questions about how many students even want to enroll in Course Choice.
Cleaning Up John White’s Mess — Crazy Crawfish’s Blog | The Crazy Crawfish blogger thinks education Superintendent John White is going to leave for another job. He lists a dozen headaches that White is dealing with, including the troubled Course Choice program and the controversial new COMPASS teacher evaluation system.
The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Budgeting The River — WWNO | In a continuation of his Last Call series, Bob Marshall expands on an earlier piece he wrote for The Lens about how to properly manage the river from the bottom-up. That’s an easy sell in Louisiana — because we’re on the bottom — “but how do you make that sound logical to people in Illinois, in Iowa, in Minnesota, in Missouri, in Arkansas?”
Adaptation: Disaster preparedness is rare, but better and cheaper than after-the-disaster remedies — E & E Publishing | “In the last decade, almost 1 million people have been killed and trillions of dollars have been lost in natural disasters worldwide. As climate change threatens to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, the prospect of even bigger disaster-related losses alone would make a case for more disaster-proofing investment.”