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Meet Joe Jaeger

He's a 71-year-old businessman who started as a plumber's apprentice, having dropped out of college, and now owns a whole swath of downtown real estate, most of it in the French Quarter and Central Business District. 

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Joe Jaeger, the biggest single hotel owner in New Orleans, sits at his desk in his office in Metairie, La., Thursday, April 12, 2018.

He's spent most of his career studiously avoiding reporters but he spoke recently with Tyler Bridges about his first public crusade, an attempt to scuttle the 30-year extension that Harrah's has negotiated with state lawmakers for the company's exclusive license to run a casino in New Orleans. 

Jaeger thinks Louisiana should be getting a much better deal, though Harrah's is promising to invest some $350 million in a new hotel on the site, along with other improvements. 

Inevitably, he's facing suspicions that his lobbying in Baton Rouge is more about protecting his own downtown hotels from competition, or opening up an opportunity for Jaeger himself to bid on the license when Harrah's lock on it expires in a few years. 

Jaeger insists that he is simply out to save the state from getting ripped off. 


Very depressing stats

In economic terms, black families in the New Orleans area are no better off today, on average, than they were at the end of the Jim Crow era. 

That's according to stats compiled by the Data Center, a local nonprofit group that tracks the health of the region on a variety of measures. 

Consider: 

Since 1979, black household incomes have fallen by 7 percent in the metro area, while white household incomes have held steady. 

Within Orleans Parish over that period, black incomes have dropped by 15 percent, while white incomes have risen by nearly a third.

Since 1979, the percentage of black households designated as high-income dropped by 3 points, while high-income white households grew by 5 points.

While more than 85 percent of white women and men have some college education, the same is true for only 55 percent of black women and 42 percent of black men, as of 2016.


St. Roch Market market lawsuit

The folks who run the St. Roch Market were already controversial, and now they're more controversial. 

Having opened a high-end collection of food stalls in what used to be a working-class grocery store and seafood market -- not a popular move among the opponents of gentrification -- they went ahead and opened another St. Roch Market in a chic neighborhood of Miami. And they've got plans for another one in Nashville. 

Ian McNulty now informs us that Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has decided to sue the company, Bayou Secret. 

The city, which leases out the building through the New Orleans Building Corp., wants to get the company's trademark on the name "St. Roch Market" canceled and seize any profits from the Miami operation. 


You can get married at 16 in Louisiana

In case you were wondering. 

But some lawmakers in Baton Rouge are taking up the cause to raise the marriage age to 18, in line with the goal established by the United Nations. Advocates for the move have helped draft similar bills in more than half a dozen states. 

In Louisiana, 4,532 people under the age of 18, one as young as 12, were legally married between 2000 and 2010, according to a compilation of marriage licenses by a nonprofit organization and Frontline, a documentary television program.


Theft, kind of, or maybe not

Matt Sledge brings an interesting question to our attention. 

If employees at the Sewerage & Water Board, in the course of working on the city's decrepit infrastructure, come across some old scrap metal that's otherwise bound for the garbage bin and sell it, should they be prosecuted for theft? 

It's complicated, because some employees have been accused of selling brass fittings in bulk -- like half a million dollars worth -- which seems more straightforwardly criminal. 

But an agency employee named Cedric Beaulieu made the case recently that investigators were being a little ridiculous, bringing criminal charges when he was only selling dirty old fittings from work sites that weren't of any future use, rather than slipping new material out of the warehouse. 

Last month, a six-person jury acquitted him with only 15 minutes deliberation, and Beaulieu is now fighting to get his job back. 


From around the web 

Things have somewhat escalated between Trump and Comey. Trump is a "stain" on everyone who works for him. Comey is "slippery." The administration, meanwhile, is planning new sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Syria. It's also quietly helping Mexico fight opioid production. And there's a looming potential fight over gene editing in the food industry. 


Also...

David Attenborough "was unconscious and there was blood everywhere." He was almost killed making "Blue Planet II."

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The Morning Briefing is compiled by Andrew Vanacore, deputy editor for the New Orleans Advocate. Get in touch with feedback, tips, complaints at avanacore@theadvocate.com.

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