2014 Candidate Scorecard and The Trumpet Election Guide Release Party

The Choice Is Yours: The Trumpet Neighborhood Guide to Election 2014

As the election season heats up, NPNand CBNO – in conjunction with Ashé Cultural Arts Center – invites you to the release of The Trumpet Neighborhoods Guide to Election 2014 on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m.

In this special edition of The Trumpet, we are providing readers with profiles on each candidate based on their responses to questions regarding issues of importance to NPN’s mission and four keys areas that play a role in the city’s ability to position itself amongst its aspirational peers over the next four years. This issue of The Trumpet features the 2014 Candidate Scorecard. The Scorecard is a list of questions compiled and reviewed by the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, Puentes New Orleans, The Lens, and the Committee for a Better New Orleans. The questions were sent to all Mayoral and City Council candidates. A complete list of the questions and candidate’s responses can be seen here.

Join us for the release party and savor a complimentary heavy buffet while you give candidates in some of the area’s most hotly contested races a few “tips” on what YOU want for the future of the City of New Orleans as they serve as your guest bartenders for the evening. Admission to this event is free and open to the public with beverages available for a nominal fee. Visit http://thechoiceisyourstrumpetrelease.eventbrite.com to register today.


NolaCPP on WWL’s Angela Hill Show

On December 4, Nick Kindel from the New Orleans Citizen Participation Project was on the 3pm hour of the Angela Hill Show on WWL. Nick joined GCIA President Dalton Savwoir and Gentilly Terrace and Garden President Leslie Bouie to talk about Gentilly, the assets in Gentilly, and the challenges the community faces. You can find audio on the Angela Hill show page for 12-4-2013 or directly at this link.


CBNO’s October Global Giving Report

October 2013 Project Report

By Keith Twitchell – President

The big win finally got put in the books, and we are happily at work consolidating the victory benefits!


Thirteen months after it was initially approved by the New Orleans City Planning Commission … three months after it was approved as policy by the New Orleans City Council … multiple meetings later than it was supposed to be as opponents made a last-ditch effort to kill it … the City Council adopted amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance that put the Early Notification System from our Citizen Participation Program into law.


Called the Neighborhood Participation Program (NPP) by the Planning Commission, the new law mandates that virtually any public or private sector project that will require any action by the Commission must first be brought to the residents and neighborhood association that will be impacted by it.  Until the residents and neighborhood are notified, a meeting has been conducted, and a report on the comments received (and the applicant’s response to them) has been filed, the application process cannot proceed.


Progressive business owners have already begun using this approach, and even before the NPP was placed into law, there were two high-profile situations where a business proposal that initially met with strong opposition from residents and the neighborhood association received final approval after the owner met with the neighbors and resolved the concerns to everyone’s satisfaction (ironically, both businesses received their approvals from the Council at a meeting where the NPP itself was deferred).  Beyond question, we will see many more of these outcomes, where commerce proceeds while neighborhood quality of life is preserved — and even enhanced.


CBNO is doing two things to ensure the success of the NPP.  First, we are doing presentations to business organizations, and some neighborhood groups, to inform them about the NPP and make sure they know how to be effective and inclusive in using it.  Second, we are developing an evaluation tool so that we quantify its efficacy, and also so that after a period of time, we can recommend any tweaks that might improve it.  Thus far we have presented to more than 100 business people, and have been very gratified at the positive responses we have received.  The era of the much-abhorred “Planning by Surprise” in New Orleans truly is coming to an end.


On another front, we are in the final stages of completing our second Latino Community Survey, with partner organization Puentes New Orleans.  This is part of our Latino Community of Interest project of the Citizen Participation Program.  The follow-up survey was requested by Latino community leaders and also the city Department of Health, and focuses on health and education issues that Latino residents face.  The Health Department has committed to using the findings to improve its capacity to deliver health information and programs to Latino residents, and CBNO and Puentes will similarly work with schools and other education organizations to improve education outcomes for Latino students and families.  We were aided in the survey design by expert volunteers from Tulane University, and they will also help us to analyze that data, which will give even more value, credibility and weight to the data.


Finally, we have continued our work to reform the municipal budgeting process in New Orleans.  While this seems like a pretty dry and arcane subject, we have found a strong appetite for involvement on the part of community members throughout the city.  We have done a number of teach-ins and other information sessions, and generated a substantial turnout of residents for the Budget Town Halls that preceded the mayor’s submission of the budget to the City Council.  We are organizing this effort into a formal campaign, and are assembling a steering committee that will have a majority of the seats held by community members.  The next major step will be an unconference in mid-January to bring budgeting information to even more residents, and to help set priorities and objectives for the campaign moving forward.  Just a hint here: we would love to have your support for putting on this event!


So, it has been an exciting and productive time for the Citizen Participation Project, with significant progress, increased momentum, and even greater opportunities ahead.  We appreciate your interest in this important work, and thank you so much for your support.


City Planning Commission Appointed Bob Rivers as New CPC Executive Director

At the end of their Tuesday, October 22 meeting, City Planning Commission voted unanimously to appoint Bob Rivers as the new Executive Director of the City Planning Commission. Bob Rivers is currently working as a lawyer in the City Attorney’s Office and was rumored as the front runner after the City Planning Commission fired former Director Yolanda Rodriguez on June 11. About a week after Ms Rodriguez was fired, City Planning Commission held a meeting to consider an interim or full-time Executive Director. City Planning Commission went into Executive Session and twice called Mr Rivers into the room.


City Planning did not make an interim or full-time appointment that day. Instead they launched into a 4-month process to do a national search for a new Executive Director. This “national search” resulted in the  job being posted on the American Planning Association’s and American Institute of Architects’ websites for approximately a week before the job search was closed on July 22 (although most of those websites listed the job closing on July 19). The search did result in a few dozen qualified candidates both locally and nationally.


City Planning Commission’s Executive Director Search Committee met a number of times between June 11 and October 22. The committee met only to discuss the process. When it came time to interview the candidates, only a couple of committee members were in the interview, so it did not have to be done at an official committee meeting. Phone interviews were done at first, with 3 candidates shortlisted and brought to New Orleans for in-person interviews. Planning Commission approved spending up to $5,000 to bring those candidates to New Orleans interviews. After that, any discussion of the candidates was done in executive session to ensure that none of this information became public.


On October 22, the appointment of an Executive Director was on agenda for the City Planning Commission Operational Committee. The Planning Commission was in Executive Session for most of that meeting. When they came out of Executive Session a motion was made to defer the appointment of the new Executive Director. Commission Chair Kelly Brown stated that she was opposed to deferring the appoint. When the votes we cast, 5 were in favor of deferral and 3 were opposed (Commissioners Brown, Craig Mitchell, and I believe Joe Williams). Commission Lois Carlos-Lawrence was absent.


The Commission then went to the full City Planning Commission meeting that is held in City Council Chambers. Throughout the approximately 1.5 hour meeting, different commissioners at different times left the Council Chambers to go into the backroom. This is evident in the Commission votes through the meeting, as 5 of the 8 Commissioners at the meeting were absent for at least one vote during the course of the meeting. As the meeting was about to finish up, there was about a 10 minute recess.


About an hour and a half after voting to defer the appointment of a new Executive Director, the City Planning Commission had a change of heart. They voted unanimously to add the appointment of a new ED to the agenda. Commission Kyle Wedberg then made a motion to appoint Bob Rivers as the new Executive Director and to enter into negotiations with him, and it was seconded by Commissioner Nolan Marshall III. There was no discussion, and the motion was approved 8 to 0. Commissioner Carlos-Lawrence was absent. Video of this appointment is available at around the 1:22 mark. It is unclear at this time the results on the negotiation and when Bob Rivers will start as Executive Director.



Come out this Weekend for BBQ Contest and Battle of the Bands Fundraiser

On Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2, Pontchartrain Landing will host the Crescent City BBQ Cook-off. As part of this event, the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association is hosting a Jambalaya Cooking Contest and a Battle of Bands. The Jambalaya competition will take place from 4 to 10pm on Friday, November 1. From noon to 4:30pm on Saturday, November 2, GCIA will host the Battle of Bands, were people will compete for a recording session and CD protection provided by Music Shed Studios.


These events will all take place at Pontchartrain Landing, which is located on the Gentilly waterfront along the Industrial Canal at 6001 France Road. Admission for these events is $5 per day or $8 for the weekend for individuals and $12 per day or $18 for the weekend for a family of four. For more information about these events or how to compete, please email gcianola@gmail.com or visit GCIA’s facebook page.


Here is more information on the weekend’s events:

BBQ & Battle of Bands Fundraiser


For more information on the Battle of Bands competition, please check out this flyer (Note: Battle of Bands submission has been extended to Wed, Oct 30):

Battle of the Bands

Public Leaders Fellowship seeks applicants by Mon, Nov 4

The Public Leaders Fellowship is a 7-month leadership training program that brings together diverse community members from throughout the Metro New Orleans area and prepares them for public leadership or enhances their current leadership skills. Fellows meet once a month for day-long sessions to discuss topics such as coalition building, the demographics and history of New Orleans, and more.
The Public Leaders Fellowship defines a Public Leader as any community leader, regardless of what demographic he or she is from, who is capable of engaging in a public, meaningful, and strategic manner for the overall improvement of the community. The Public Leaders Fellowship seeks to identify emerging and existing Public Leaders to provide them with the necessary tools to engage meaningfully into the civic life of Metro New Orleans.
Applications are being accepted now for inclusion into the Public Leaders Fellowship for the year 2013-2014. The deadline for accepting applications is Monday, October 21. For more information or for any questions, please contact Ronald Avila at Puentes New Orleans, 504-821-7228, or through e-mail, ronald@puentesno.org.

UPDATE: Deadline for submission of applications has been extended to November 4, 2013.

Public Leaders Fellowship 2013-14 Application Packet

Mayor Submitted Proposed 2014 Budget to City Council

At a special meeting on Tuesday, October 15, the Mayor submitted his proposed budget to City Council, who will adopt the final budget at their November 21 meeting. Between now and then, City Council will hold public hearings with all of the City departments and agencies that receive funding. You can view the department hearing schedule here, but keep an eye on the City Council Calendar because the departments’ hearing dates frequently change.

The Mayor’s Budget is actually two budgets, one for the City’s operating expenses (personnel, contacts, and supplies) and the other for capital projects (city buildings & infrastructure). The City’s proposed Operating Budget is $838 million, which includes $504 million from the general fund, which is discretionary money that the City can chose to spend how it wants (the rest of the money is from grants that must be used for an explicit purpose). The 2014 general fund budget is $9 million more than it was last year.

The other budget is the City’s Capital Budget. The City Planning Commission just approved the City’s 5-year and over $1 billion Capital Improvement Plan for 2014-2018, and the City Council will need to approved the Capital Budget for 2014. The 2014 Capital Budget is $247 million, and it includes funding for proposed projects like $153 million for road projects, $47 million for the airport, $20.3 million for a civic center at Charity Hospital (this is less than 10% of the total cost), $9.5 million for parks and recreation, and more for numerous other projects.

There has been some press coverage of the Mayor’s announcement, which get into more depth about the certain aspects of the budget like funding for (or lack of) the NOPD and OPP consent decrees, the fire fighters pensions, public safety funding, etc. Here are two items from The Lens, their live blog of the Mayor’s budget presentation and press conference and an article on lack of funding for the OPP consent decree. Here are summaries of the Mayor’s proposed 2014 budget from The Advocate and nola.com | TP.

Remember that the Mayor proposes the budget and the City Council adopts it, so their is an opportunity to give your input to City Council prior to November 21. At each of the department hearing, there is an opportunity to have your 2 minutes at the mic to speak about that department’s budget. City Council rarely make drastic changes to the budget, however, so they most adopt the budget that the Mayor proposes with maybe a million or two in changes. So it is unclear what impact your input would have on the budget.

We are working to bring a budgetary process to New Orleans, where people actually have a say in how part of the City’s budget is spent. Residents brainstorm project ideas, turn those ideas into proposal, vote on the proposal they want to fund, and the top projects are implemented. This process is call Participatory Budgeting (PB), and you can learn more about it by watching this short video. If you are want more information on how we can bring this to New Orleans, then check out the PB NOLA facebook page.