Whistleblower Tour comes to New Orleans on Tuesday, Febraury 28

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) presents the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability at Tulane University on Tuesday, February 28 4-5:30pm at Kendall Cram Room, Lavin-Bernick Center. This Tour stop will feature a panel presentation by prominent national and New Orleans-based speakers discussing how whistleblowers promote transparency and accountability in key issues facing local residents, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, police accountability, and the BP oil spill disaster. This event is sponsored by GAP, Tulane University, and the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG).

Panelists include:

·Adam Babich: Babich teaches environmental law and directs the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, which is regularly ranked among the Top Ten environmental law clinics of U.S. law schools.

·Steve Beatty: Beatty is Managing Editor of The Lens, a nonprofit media outlet focusing on the New Orleans area. Beatty is a veteran investigative reporter and editor, he previously worked for The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

·Tom Devine: Devine is GAP Legal Director, and has worked at the organization since 1979, assisting thousands of whistleblowers over that time. Tom has been a leader in the campaigns to pass or defend 20 major national or internationalwhistleblower laws, including every one enacted over the last two decades. He has also authored or co-authored numerous books, including 2011′s The Corporate Whistleblowers Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth.

·Susan Hutson: Hutson heads the City of New Orleans Office of the Independent Police Monitor (IPM), an independent, civilian police oversight agency. Its mission is to improve cooperation and trust between the community and the New Orleans Police Department through objective review of police misconduct investigations.

·Scott Porter: At the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Scott Porter, a biologist and diver with the nonprofit EcoRigs, dove into the oil plume (reported to be safe by NOAA) from the Deepwater Horizon disaster for water samples to determine toxicity. In exchange, NOAA would fund the dives and provide test results. Porter became severely ill after he began diving. During that time NOAA did not provide the test results, but EcoRigs was also working with non-government scientists to test similar samples, which showed high toxicity. NOAA cut off communications, never providing payment. Porter educates the public about environmental damage and public health threats from the oil spill.

·Sandy Rosenthal: Rosenthal is the founder of Levees.org, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to educating America on the facts associated with the 2005 catastrophic flooding of the New Orleans region. Started in late 2005, the project now has chapters in Illinois, Florida, Oregon and New York.

For more event info, please visit here:  http://bit.ly/z4uuXN

Update on Gentilly Civic Improvement Association

The New Orleans Citizen Participation Project has been working with the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association. In the past few months, GCIA has elected new officers and established new committees. Here is the latest news from GCIA President Dalton Savwoir, Jr.

 

February GCIA President’s Report

Gentilly Civic Improvement Association (GCIA) has begun the year with great strides into achieving its 2012 goal. With regard to infrastructure, the Board of Directors has confirmed four (4) new committees to move the organization forward with the members of the new Executive Officers as chairmen. These committees with chairpersons are as follows:

  • By-laws Committee – Betty Muller, Vice President, Chairperson – bmuller@tulane.edu
  • Communications Committee– Lisa Kamuf, Secretary,  Co- Chairperson-  lisa.kamuf@cox.net,
  • Fund Raising-Scott Schenck, At-large, Co-Chairman- scott@pontchartrainlaning.com
  • Recruitment-Lisa Kamuf, Secretary, & Victor Gordon, Parliamentarian, Co-Chairpersons-pancho1933@bellsouth.net
  • There is also an ad-hoc 501(3) (c) Committee chaired by a co-founder of GCIA, Scott Darrah, smdarrah@gmail.com. Many of these tasks will be completed in three to six months with some committees ongoing.

 

The Communications Committee has met twice and hosted two training sessions on the Constant Contact email system. They will be responsible for maintaining this email system, and updating the newsletter and community calendar on a monthly basis.  Kudos to Nick Kindel, Co-Chairman, nolacpp@gmail.com, for his leadership and technical expertise!

 

Another goal of GCIA is to recruit more neighborhood associations within the Gentilly area to join us. I am happy to report that the Board of Directors will be reviewing a letter of interest from the De Saix Area Neighborhood Association. We anticipate interest in the near future from Pilotland, Pontchartrain Park, and Fairmont Park Neighborhood Associations.

 

As a point of information, the City Planning Commission has posted a Public Hearing Notice to review a request for a zoning change from “single family” to “double” at 4917 St. Anthony Ave. (zoning docket 27/12). The Hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in the City Council Chambers at 1:30pm. Written comments must be received by Wednesday, March 7, 2012 to be included with the staff reports. Our thanks to Fay Kaufman for notifying GCIA!

 

As Gentilly has always prided itself as a preeminent “single family,” residential community, this zoning request is of particular interest to setting precedence in Gentilly. We urge the Gentilly community to voice its opinion on this request to the City Planning Commission.

 

There is a new neighborhood organizing in the Gentilly area called the Gentilly Waterfront area along France Road between Chef Menteur Highway and Leon C. Simon. The owner of Pontchartrain Landing RV Park, Scott Schenck,  is spearheading this effort and we welcome their participation in GCIA.

 

Regards,

Dalton Savwoir, Jr.

President, GCIA

City Planning Recommends Amendment to Weaken Citizen Participation in the Master Plan

On Tuesday, February 14, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously (7 to 0) to recommend an Amendment to weaken citizen participation in the Master Plan.  Text Amendment #19 was proposed by the Neighborhood Engagement Office (NEO) to change the language in Volume 3, Chapter 15 of the Master Plan. In the Amendment, NEO sought to insert the Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP) in the place of a community-based CPP (NPP only focuses inside of City Hall), to remove all references to District Councils (an international best practice), and to remove entire sections of the Master Plan equaling about 3 pages.

City Planning staff reviewed this proposed Amendment, and not only accepted all of NEO’s proposed changes, but also expanded the changes to Volume 2, Chapter 15 of the Master Plan. For a complete look at the proposed changes and staff’s recommendations, please see pages 52 to 55 of the City Planning Commission Staff Report. Now that the City Planning Commission has voted unanimously to accept City Planning staff’s recommendation, City Council will take up the issue (as well as every other Master Plan Amendment). City Planning is expected to send its recommendations to City Council next week, and City Council will have 90 days to accept, reject, or modify CPC’s recommended amendments. If Council chooses to modified the amendments, it will go back to City Planning Commission.

There was no real media coverage of the Master Plan Amendment vote. The only coverage of this meeting comes from NolaStat’s Brian Denzer. He wrote a summary of City Planning Commission’s approval of Text Amendment #19 and published a letter to the media and City Council opposing CPC’s recommendation. Video of the meeting can be found on City Planning’s website video page.

City Planning Update on their Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP) Process

On February 13, the City Planning Commission updated a few documents to their Neighborhood Participation Plan website. City Planning kicked off their NPP process with a public meeting at Grace Episcopal Church on December 15, 2011. City Planning provided notes from this meeting on their website.

In addition, City Planning has put a revised scope of work for the NPP process on their website. Here are some of the highlights from this revised scope of work. The core focus of CPC’s NPP will address:

  • Amendment to the Master Plan
  • Zoning Changes, Conditional Uses, Planned Developments and Variances
  • Capital Budget Program

The revised scope of work includes a new timeline. Here are some important dates for CPC’s NPP:

  • December 2012 – Hold first NPP public meeting
  • April 2012 – Review and Discuss First NPP Draft – hold second public meeting
  • May 2012 – Release Public Hearing Draft (2nd Draft) and begin written comment period
  • June 2012 – Written comment period ends – CPC to hold formal public hearing on NPP
  • July 31, 2012 – Deadline to submit CPC’s formal recommendation for NPP to City Council
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