By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |
Streets and infrastructure topped the list of budget priorities for Algiers residents who came out Wednesday night for the second of seven public hearings regarding Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s 2012 budget. “More than a year ago, we were sitting in this exact spot and I told you about streets, street lights, catch basins,” resident Donald Costello said. “You told me people would get back to me.
Once it opens, the new Romney Pilate Center on upper Magazine Street promises to help the workout crowd shape up. But because of neighborly unhappiness over the way the building itself bulked up after original designs were approved, the development has already begun reshaping the way the city handles land use decisions.
Standing in front of a row of abandoned, soon-to-be-razed double shotguns, , gesturing sympathetically to the neighborhood leaders gathered with him, Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Thursday implored New Orleans property owners to end the pattern of neglect that has left tens of thousands blighted buildings across the city. “To all the people out there who own properties in the city of New Orleans, take care of them, honor your responsibilities, get your property back up to code, the city will be enforcing and this is a consequence of that enforcement,” the mayor said, the anger in his voice palpable.
The 100 fully funded projects that Mayor Mitch Landrieu plans to unveil Friday, on his 103rd day in office, may include neighborhood-based recovery programs, as well as bricks-and-mortar projects. Designed by the staff of former recovery czar Ed Blakely and financed out of a $411 million pot of federal Disaster Community Development Block Grants given to the city, these programs generally have been on hold for the past several months.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu today announced a series of “sweeping reforms” to city contracting designed to bring a new level of cooperation, transparency and equity to the process. The awarding of these contracts had been an opaque process, frequently criticized by City Council President Arnie Fielkow as well as many civic and good government groups.
With an environmental disaster imminent off the Louisiana coast, the New Orleans government’s web page on “Coastal Restoration” is blank – as is the seat for the mayor’s director of Office of Environmental Affairs. While it’s noted on the city’s home page that the site is being redesigned, the page for Coastal Restoration is tabula rasa while other pages under the Office of Environmental Affair’s site – “Brownfields Program,” “Climate Protection,” “Home Energy Efficiency” – all have content.
A few hours ago, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that former NOPD Deputy Superintendent and current Nashville police chief Ronal Serpas will lead the NOPD. Landrieu was enthusiastic and effusive in his praise of Serpas, whom he said presented “clear and away the best resume that many people in the country have seen.”
Mitch Landrieu officially will be mayor of New Orleans next week. So this week, we’re finally beginning to get an idea of what his actual transition will be like – the one in which he actually takes over the job of leading the city.