New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu last week added a new twist to his call to remove monuments to Confederate leaders and a post-Civil War white supremacist militia from their prominent sites in the city, suggesting that he’d be happy for the state to take them and put them in a park.
After being criticized during a community budget meeting for his plans to take down monuments to Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. P.G.T Beauregard and the Battle of Liberty Place, a failed uprising against the state’s Reconstruction government, Landrieu reiterated his argument that the statues do not have a place in modern New Orleans.
But he said that if Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who supported efforts to block the city from removing them, is so keen on keeping them up, he is welcome to have them after the city takes them down.
“Since the lieutenant governor has a different opinion on this and he has a lot of state parks, I invite him to come take them,” said Landrieu, who served as lieutenant governor himself before becoming mayor.
A spokeswoman for Nungesser said his office hadn’t been contacted by the city about taking the monuments.
The New Orleans City Council, at Landrieu’s urging, voted 6-1 in December in favor of taking down the statues, a decision that was immediately met with a lawsuit by those who want to see them kept in place. That court case has stalled the city’s efforts to remove the monuments.
Councilman to attend one more last meeting
When he was automatically elected to the District 85 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives on July 1 because no one else qualified against him, Gretna City Councilman Joe Marino’s best guess was that the council’s June meeting had been his last.
But Marino, who will replace retiring Rep. Bryan Adams, said Sunday that he will be able to attend the council meeting Wednesday before turning in his resignation Thursday. He should be sworn into his new job by the end of the month.
Marino, a criminal defense attorney who got into city politics in 2013, said he would like to move several items on the council’s agenda forward before he steps down, including an agreement related to ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft and a measure shortening the hours that people have to pay to park in downtown Gretna.
Marino also said he is putting together information about ongoing projects to guide his interim replacement, who will be selected by the council.
Now a crime to claim extra exemptions
It has always been illegal to claim more than one homestead exemption in Louisiana, but starting Aug. 1, it will for the first time be a crime.
Orleans Parish Assessor Erroll Williams sent out a news release Thursday pointing out that the Legislature recently passed a law, Act 437, establishing a penalty of a $500 fine and up to six months in jail for claiming two or more exemptions. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed it.
The homestead exemption makes the first $75,000 of the value of a homeowner’s principal residence, or “domicile,” exempt from most property taxes. Disabled veterans may be eligible for a $150,000 exemption.
Some people claim exemptions on vacation or second homes deliberately or because they don’t understand the law. Others neglect to cancel an old exemption when they move to a new home but still own the old property, or because of legal complications such as a divorce.
Whatever the reason, it’s now a crime to try to double-dip. But it’s likely to be a cold day in July before a judge actually sends anyone to the pokey for six months because they do it.
Compiled by Jeff Adelson, Chad Calder and Bruce Eggler