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City Council Meeting News Summary December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017

At today's meeting, the New Orleans City Council received a presentation from Major General David Mize, Chairman of the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee, in celebration of Military Day. The Council also heard from Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) spokespersons detailing the 2017 Fourth Quarter and Annual Reports, passed an ordinance and corresponding resolution relative to controlled substances and the prohibition of distributing drug paraphernalia, and adopted amendments to the Operating Budget of Revenues and the Operating Budget of Expenditures for the year 2018. Additionally, the Council adopted a resolution supporting the Vision Zero Initiative, approved a zoning change to permit a community center for New Hope Baptist Church, and authorized an agreement with YouthForce NOLA to provide for the placement of approximately 925 New Orleans students into paid internships.



Council Welcomes More Than 100 Armed Service Members in Celebration of Military Day

Chairman of the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee (MMAC), Major General David Mize, USMC Ret., alongside members of the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard attended today's meeting to present to the Council as part of its 25th annual Military Day celebration. New Orleans Military Appreciation Day was started in 1992 by the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee (MMAC) and local leaders to acknowledge local military service members and to promote a closer relationship for state and federal agencies in Louisiana.

Chartered in 1972, the MMAC is charged with providing support to local military and their families, educating the public about the economic and social benefits associated with local military organizations, and retaining and growing the military bases in the region. Senior military leaders from all of the service branches throughout the New Orleans area attended today's meeting to present on specific community service, economic and mission-centric contributions to the area.

Presenters included the following: Major General David Mize, USMC Ret., Chairman of the Mayor's Military Advisory Committee (MMAC); Lt. Col. Daniel W. Harlow, Commander of the 159th Maintenance Group, Louisiana Air National Guard; Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, U.S. Coast Guard; Major General Steven W. Ainsworth, 377th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), U.S. Army Reserve; Colonel Michael Clancy, Commander & District Engineer, Army Corps of Engineers; Colonel Gerry W. Leonard, Chief of Staff, Marine Forces Reserve; and Captain Mark Sucato, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB).

"We would not be as safe as we are and we would not be the superpower that we are if it weren't for our military men and women," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "So many lives have been sacrificed to get to where we are today, and each and every one of you, from the brass that sits at this table to you younger people in the audience, plays a tremendous role in that. I can't say it enough, but we are the greatest country on this planet, and we are such, because of all of you. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your incredible service to our country."



 

S&WB Spokespersons Present Fourth Quarter and Annual Reports to the Council

Ryan Berni, Deputy Mayor of External Affairs for the City of New Orleans, and Jade Brown Russell, Attorney for the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB), presented to the Council detailing the S&WB's Fourth Quarter and Annual Reports. Those reports are available here

The presentation provided status updates for several areas of concern within the organization areas such as governance practices, customer service improvements, service assurance program, operational reform, City Council oversight, contracts, etc. On customer service improvements, Berni said that while there are no concrete plans for additional customer service centers to supplement the one currently open on the West Bank, S&WB staff has been working with the City to determine whether or not there are any unused City-owned buildings that could be utilized for service centers. The presentation also detailed efforts to improve efficiency and reliability of practices through a variety of measures such as updates to the website, decreases to call wait times and further development of the S&WB Facilities Plan.

District "C" Councilmember and Public Works Committee Chair Nadine Ramsey expressed disappointed that no representatives of the S&WB had shown up to the last Public Works Committee meeting, but expressed her gratitude for the two who attended the meeting today. She said that in the future; she hoped the Council wouldn't be receiving these reports so sporadically and planned to introduce an ordinance providing a format and timeline for these reports to ensure they are received in a timely manner. "This is an opportunity to move forward together and get it right," she added.

"What is the explanation for continuing down the same path of trying to repair a 100-year-old system when millions have already been wasted trying to unsuccessfully repair it?" said District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett. "FEMA money has been wasted, and now taxpayers are footing the bill. This report and presentation represent ongoing issues with an overall lack of answers from the S&WB, which doesn't do justice for me, nor my constituents. Where are the engineers? The public deserves answers from individuals with subject matter expertise, and that's not what happened today."

Councilmember Brossett went on expressing concern at the lack of presence from representatives of the S&WB with real, technical expertise at the meeting.

Berni and Russell assured that moving forward; they would work with the Council and the S&WB to establish expectations, assess what information is needed, and determine who is most qualified to present on certain issues, in an effort to develop best practices and deliver better results. 

On the current state of the agency and its advancements, Russell said, "There's still work to be done, but I think what's proven here is the great progress we're making to find resolutions to a lot of the major issues which have plagued the S&WB throughout the year. We have to embrace transparency because it's critical to our success and the success of our city. The S&WB will continue to evolve and innovate to better serve the people of New Orleans."

 

Council Adopts Resolution to Reduce Number of Traffic Deaths and Injuries

The Council adopted a resolution to enhance safety measures and the quality of life for all New Orleanians through implementation of the Vision Zero Initiative, which aims to reduce the terrible toll of traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The initiative complements the efforts of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's Destination Zero Deaths Program, which takes an integrated approach to reducing the detrimental effects of motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths along Louisiana roadways.

In 2016, 55 people were killed in traffic crashes throughout New Orleans, including 13 pedestrians and five bicyclists. In that same year, 11,907 people were injured in traffic crashes. While Vision Zero will not develop the same in every community, the implementation of its core principles is essential to improving traffic safety in New Orleans. With this resolution, the Council recognizes the importance of intergovernmental agencies working together with the surrounding communities to developing and maintain the safety of public right-of-ways.

 

Measures Passed to Prevent Drug Abuse and Distribution

The Council passed an ordinance and corresponding resolution to amend the Code of the City of New Orleans relative to controlled substances and the prohibition of distributing drug paraphernalia. The provisions outlined in the ordinance will not apply to any product or object designed for scientific research, industrial, veterinary, or agricultural purposes, or for bona fide medical or clinical use.

This comes alongside a recent Orleans Parish Coroner's Office report, which showed the number of accidental drug-related deaths in New Orleans in 2016 exceeded the number of murders for the first time in recent history. With these measures, the Council hopes to more effectively combat drug abuse and the spread of infectious disease in New Orleans through increased prevention and enforcement efforts.

 

 
  
 

Council Welcomes More Than 100 Armed Service Members in Celebration of Military Day

S&WB Spokespersons Present Fourth Quarter and Annual Reports to the Council

Council Adopts Resolution to Reduce Number of Traffic Deaths and Injuries

Measures Passed to Prevent Drug Abuse and Distribution

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