What's with City Hall's ongoing campaign to kill District Councils?

The New Orleans City Council will soon vote on the future of citizen participation in our city. It’s an ideal mandated by both a post-Katrina amendment to the City Charter and the city’s long-overdue master plan. But despite overwhelming popular support, it appears to be in grave peril.

Last ONE left standing? Sucker punch whacks 'citizen participation'

By Tim Garrett, The Lens contributing opinion writer |

Tuesday’s four-hour meeting of the New Orleans Planning Commission amounted to a public showdown between two rival visions for “citizen participation” in the planning process, something that was mandated by a charter amendment in 2010. The audience

A crowd big enough to pack the City Council chamber was augmented by additional viewers watching on public-access TV.

Coalition urges mayor to 'man up' and fulfill promises on jail size and budget reforms

By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

A reform coalition, calling for a smaller, more accountably budgeted jail, dropped off two copies of a 2,200-signature petition at City Hall this afternoon, having grown impatient with Mayor Mitch Landrieu for failing to “man up” on the issue. “I think the mayor just needs to step up,” said Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition member Norris Henderson, who also runs the reform group Voice of The Ex-Offender.

Clarkson offends crowd with remarks praising '50s as a golden age, refuses to apologize

Update 9/1: Clarkson issued a statement Wednesday night stating that she is “sorry that there were a handful of people in the crowd that didn’t appreciate what I’ve done for them.” By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |

Marguerite Blunt, 91, remembers the 1950s as a time when she couldn’t enter restaurants through the front door, or try on a dress before buying it.

New public comment rules inspire confusion as well as criticism

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.”             — Alice in Wonderland

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

See related video at end of story. Broadcasts of City Council proceedings cut cleanly from the dais to the speakers microphone — omitting the confusion that generally prevails among would-be orators over who gets to give public comment and for how long.

Citizen-participation plan gets chilly reception from council

Despite years of work involving dozens of meetings with thousands of residents, a plan to create a formal system for citizen interaction with city government has run into a buzz saw of opposition, with the most objection recent coming from a city council member. The Committee for a Better New Orleans has been devising and revising its plan, working at what its leader thought was the behest of the City Planning Commission.

Public not invited to city meeting on key jail issue

The City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee met this morning to discuss inmate-release issues that could have an effect on the size of the city’s planned new jail, but it’s unclear whether adequate public notice was given about the meeting under the state’s open meetings law.