Saturday, June 30, 2018

PHOTOS: Families Belong Together immigration march in New Orleans

Posted By on Sat, Jun 30, 2018 at 7:10 PM

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'It's time for action': New Orleans joins nationwide call to abolish ICE and reunite families

Posted By on Sat, Jun 30, 2018 at 7:00 PM

New Orleans joined a nationwide Families Belong Together protest June 30, - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • New Orleans joined a nationwide Families Belong Together protest June 30,

Even as the heat index climbed into triple digits, a winding crowd of hundreds snaked through the French Quarter and blocked traffic to Decatur Street to call for the reunion of immigrant families and the dissolve of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

New Orleans joined a nationwide protest June 30 to reform U.S. immigration policy in the wake of reports that revealed thousands of immigrant children were separated from their families and warehoused in detention centers after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The New Orleans event — co-organized by immigrant workers advocacy group Congress of Day Laborers — was among the city’s largest marches and rallies organized by immigrants and undocumented people, leading more than 1,000 people from Armstrong Park to Decatur Street, blocking traffic in front of Jackson Square while issuing calls against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies and the law enforcement bodies separating families — on the border and in communities throughout the U.S.

“We should stop saying the system is broken, because it’s not. It’s operating exactly as it was intended to do,” said Congreso organizer Fernando Lopez. “Everyone here should be more than outraged. It’s your government that’s using our money to build concentration camps and detention centers much faster than they ever responded to the crisis in Puerto Rico, Houston and here in New Orleans. … It’s very clear what the priorities of this country are — they’re either putting us in cages or leaving us to die.”

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Friday, June 29, 2018

The scooters are coming to New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Bird electric scooters in California. Lime wants to bring its scooter fleet to New Orleans. - PHOTO BY GRENDELKHAN/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Bird electric scooters in California. Lime wants to bring its scooter fleet to New Orleans.

Be on the lookout for electric scooters sharing the bike lane.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration is working to bring scooter rentals to New Orleans streets, pending approval from the New Orleans City Council and arrangements with third-party companies that will set up their fleets in neighborhoods around town.

Lime scooters — spawning across the U.S. and currently all over California and recently launched in Atlanta and Dallas, to varying degrees of ridicule and success — operates similarly to bike-rental companies like New Orleans' Blue Bikes: download an app, find a kiosk, unlock a 1990s Razor-esque electric scooter for $1 using a QR code, and scoot around for 15 cents a minute. The scooters then are picked up and recharged in a warehouse.

On June 28, the New Orleans City Council’s Transportation Committee heard Lime's pitch for a New Orleans outpost before city officials create a framework — an update to the city's regulation of "Motorized Novelty Vehicles" — for scooter companies and rentals to operate legally on the streets.

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Louisiana modernizing its website to track state spending

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 2:56 PM


Louisiana is upgrading its website to track government spending, giving it a new name and user-friendly, graphics-focused look that lawmakers hope will draw more people to review how the state use taxpayer dollars.

The improved transparency site, known as Louisiana Checkbook, goes online Monday at

The one-stop website, developed by Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration, will allow searching by spending type, agency and financial year, with interactive charts and graphs, downloadable data and ability to compare across multiple categories. Over time, people will be able to view state employee salaries, contract data, information about boards and commissions, incentive spending on economic development projects and financial reports.

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Medical debt clinic returns to A.L. Davis Park July 7

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 1:40 PM


A clinic and health fair designed to help people deal with medical and other debt, particularly debt that has gone into collections, returns to A.L. Davis Park July 7.

The free event is a joint initiative between Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Debt Collective, an organizing group that is building a platform to help people dispute their debts and take on collectors. The idea behind events like this, Debt Collective member Dawn Lueck says, is to remind people how commonplace medical debt is, share information about consumer rights and discuss ways to fight back against a "predatory system."

"I can't pull the big boulder of debt off from on top of me [by myself]. ... We're trying to lift this for others," Lueck says.

At the event, Debt Collective organizers will be on-site to discuss individual debt situations and begin guiding participants through the process of disputing debts. People who attend are encouraged to bring bills, collection letters and other documents explaining their personal debt situation.

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New report about youth homelessness in Louisiana is surprisingly positive

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 1:07 PM

A file photo of a homeless young man on the streets of New Orleans. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • A file photo of a homeless young man on the streets of New Orleans.
Finally Louisiana isn't at the bottom of a national survey.

In a report released this week, the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit whose mission statement is "to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth" rates Louisiana No. 8 in the nation in its efforts to prevent and end general youth homelessness.

According to the report, Louisiana is one of only 11 states to enact a Runaway Homeless Youth Act, a compilation of laws that allow for significant funding for runaway youth issues. The report also salutes Louisiana for not criminally punishing young runaways, as well as providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its juvenile justice system.

The True Colors Fund, which was co-founded by singer Cyndi Lauper, estimates 4.2 million people under age 24 experience homelessness each year in the United States.

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What if Louisiana nixed its tipped minimum wage?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 8:42 AM


In a surprise result earlier this month — and against the opposition of the restaurant industry and many elected officials — Washington, D.C. voters recently said yes to a ballot measure eliminating the tipped minimum wage, currently $3.33 in the capital. If the measure survives challenges, wages for restaurant, bar, nail salon, valet and other tipped workers will rise to match the area's regular minimum wage, reaching $15 an hour by 2025.

Here in Louisiana, a recent bill to bring the state's $2.13 tipped minimum wage in line with the federal minimum wage (House Bill 126) never emerged from committee — part of a legislative session that also denied across-the-board increases for all minimum wage workers. But in light of the D.C. vote, Gambit sat down with policy advocate Erika Zucker — who works on labor issues with Loyola University's Workplace Justice Project — for a quick talk about what a tipped minimum wage increase would mean locally.

Her most surprising point: Zucker says moving from the tipped minimum wage to the regular minimum wage would have a slate of benefits for business owners.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

'The next Sewerage & Water Board': New Orleans City Council grills Entergy over power outages, renewable energy goals

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Members of the New Orleans City Council demanded answers from Entergy New Orleans’ top brass over the utility’s failure to meet self-imposed renewable energy goals and its handling of recurring power outages throughout its damaged distribution system.

Entergy faced the City Council’s Utilities, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee on June 28, asking the utility for a full accounting of its priorities and whether it can meet its renewable energy goals two years after it opened its request for proposals (RFPs) to begin generating up to 100 megawatts of power.

After visibly frustrated committee members didn’t receive a satisfying answer after asking Entergy for its top five priorities and projects, council advisers said it’s “more than fair to say” renewables have not been among Entergy's priorities.

“It doesn’t sound like you even want to do this,” Council Vice President Helena Moreno told Entergy officials.

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band signs with Sub Pop

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 2:40 PM

Preservation Hall Jazz Band. - PHOTO BY DANNY CLINCH
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Sub Pop Records has signed New Orleans institution Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which plans to release an album through the label later this year.

The venerable indie rock label also digitally reissued Pres Hall's 2017 album So It Is and its 2013 album That's It!, which marked the band's first collection of new material. So It Is followed the band's trip to Cuba and its performance at the intersection of global influence and its renewed dedication to figuring out the next chapter of New Orleans jazz music.

Meanwhile the band heads on a summer tour September, and, of course, their namesake venue hosts performances at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bloomberg: Trump's trade war and Louisiana businesses

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 5:47 PM

Urban South Brewery founders (l-r) Wes Osier, Jacob Landry and Kyle Huling.
  • Urban South Brewery founders (l-r) Wes Osier, Jacob Landry and Kyle Huling.

An extensive report today in Bloomberg examines President Donald Trump's tariffs and how they might affect a wide variety of Louisiana businesses:
A trade war would weigh on Louisiana, slowing total economic output by a minimum of 7 percent over five years, the most of any state, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. One in six jobs in the state of 4.7 million is tied to international commerce and would be at risk, threatening an unemployment rate the U.S. Labor Department pegs near an all-time low.
Reporter Katia Dmitrieva visited Pipe & Steel Industrial Fabricators Inc. in Denham Springs (whose owner is a Trump supporter), union workers in Denham Springs and Urban South Brewery in New Orleans, among other businesses. (Aluminum tariffs, says Urban South owner Jacob Landry, will add the equivalent of six months' salary to his bottom line.)

Read the whole thing here.

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