We here at The Lens hope you have a chance to take some time off to relax and recharge over the upcoming holidays. We’re planning to do just that ourselves, reducing our operation to a skeleton staff next week. As a result, we won’t be producing our daily or weekly newsletters. They’ll return when we do on Dec. 30.

It’s been a great year for us — we were again named the best news website in New Orleans in the Excellence in Journalism awards, and we again took home top honors for investigative reporting. But we’re also facing some recent financial challenges.

We’re planning now for a strong 2014, which will be our fifth year of operation. As always, we appreciate your support, both through your avid readership and your tax-deductible financial contributions to our nonprofit operation.

Speaking of which, we’re celebrating our birthday on Jan. 23, and we’d love to have you join us.


Steve Beatty

Government & Politics

An appeals court in New Orleans has handed Mayor Mitch Landrieu a defeat that could blow a big hole in the city’s budget, affirming a lower court’s judgment that his administration owes the city’s pension fund for firefighters more than $17.5 million.

Superintendent Patrick Dobard announced Thursday that he would cut short the phaseouts at Sarah T. Reed and George Washington Carver high schools in eastern New Orleans, which currently have juniors and seniors. The system had already decided to close its final two elementary schools — A.P. Tureaud and Benjamin Banneker — this June. It is graduating the final Walter L. Cohen class in June.

Of the 89 public schools in New Orleans, only five will not be charters next fall, all under the local Orleans Parish School Board.

HANO started the Iberville Employment Training Program in June, hiring 30 young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who live in Section 8 or public housing. …

The goal of the program is to give young men and women on the fringes of society an opportunity to receive on-the-job training that can lead to careers and save them from a life on the streets, [David Gilmore, administrative receiver for the Housing Authority of New Orleans] said.

Both state officials and the state legislative auditor had raised concerns that the way the contract between the authority and law firm was written, the law firm could demand as much as a third of the value of the restoration project as its fee. But under the agreement, if an energy company is forced to rebuild wetlands, the law firm will not be paid a share of the cost of rebuilding the wetlands.

The law firm also agreed not to file suit against other entities for wetlands damage without prior approval of the authority, said attorney Gladstone Jones in a separate interview. That provision also had been criticized by state officials, who said the language of the contract would allow the law firm to file suit against any entity and for years in the future.

Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and...