An effort to set up the framework for the Algiers neighborhood to secede from New Orleans is likely dead for this legislative session.
The Senate Local and Municipal Affairs Committee on Thursday effectively killed two measures from Rep. Jeff Arnold, the Democrat whose district covers nearly all of Algiers, that sought to pave the way for an independent city.
“This is about creating a mechanism for them to create it themselves,” Arnold told the committee. “I think we should give them the ability to do it.”
The city of New Orleans opposed the effort, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu turned in an opposition card.
Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said she saw the move as divisive.
“It could be we need to work more cooperatively with the existing political structure,” she said. “We should work collaboratively and not divisively.”
Algiers was a separate incorporated area until the 1870s, when the Legislature made the city of New Orleans identical with the boundaries of Orleans Parish, Arnold said.
Arnold argued that New Orleans residents on the West Bank of the Mississippi River are being neglected by city government. He cited issues of blight and a lack of police presence in the roughly 17-square-mile area.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.
He said that since he first proposed the Algiers incorporation effort 10 years ago, it’s been the most requested legislation from his constituents.
“The best form of government is local government,” he said.
The legislation would have required a statewide vote as well as a signature-gathering campaign and a vote of the people of Algiers. Arnold said he wouldn’t have supported incorporation if the area didn’t craft a good plan.
“There are a lot of unknowns. That’s why it’s designed this way,” he said, before the committee deferred the two bills without objection — a procedural move that essentially kills them. The proposal could theoretically be revived as an amendment to other legislation in the waning days of the legislative session, which ends next week.
Arnold, who is term-limited and will leave the Legislature after this year, said he wasn’t surprised by the committee’s decision Thursday, though he was disappointed.
“I knew the feel when I came in, and I respect the process,” he said.