Would-be developer plans mayoral run

A would-be developer with his eye on the Six Flags site in New Orleans East is planning to step aside from that effort to launch a mayoral bid.

Frank Scurlock announced his candidacy last week in front of Armstrong Park as street performers danced in the background.

Scurlock is one of three bidders who have been seeking the right to redevelop the former Six Flags site, with plans to turn it back into an amusement park. The Industrial Development Board has been skeptical of all three proposals.

Scurlock said he will resign his position with Scurlock Entertainment to focus on his mayoral run as soon as a new person to head the venture can be found. He said he planned to emphasize crime and street conditions in the mayoral race.

During his announcement, Scurlock largely focused on his family’s personal history — included detailed discussions of his father’s invention of the "bounce house" and biographies of his children — and used it as a platform to air his grievances at the IDB for not going along with his plan.

Scurlock once again pledged to bring Space Walk’s manufacturing back to New Orleans East from China. However, he is no longer involved in the company, according to court records, and his ex-wife and son, who own and run Space Walk, have said there are no plans to move its manufacturing operation.

Council OKs billing guidelines for advisers

The New Orleans City Council on Thursday passed a series of billing guidelines for the firms that advise it on regulating Entergy New Orleans.

The guidelines are aimed at ensuring that the firms' invoices are reasonable and in line with the terms of their contracts, making it easier to review and pay their bills and to increase the level of accountability in the process, according to a release from Councilwoman Stacy Head’s office.

The council’s relationship with its utility advisers has been a flashpoint in recent months, with Head fighting with Councilman Jason Williams over whether to renew the contracts with the international law firm Dentons US, the Legends Consulting Group of Denver and the local law firm of Wilkerson and Associates.

Head has criticized the process used to select those consultants, arguing it was weighted in the incumbents’ favor. All of them have worked for the council for many years. 

But there was little disagreement on Thursday, as the council passed the measure 7-0 after accepting an amendment from Williams.

“These guidelines are fairly standard and basically make sure our utility consultants abide by the same rules as any person responsible for the family checkbook. It’s all about protecting the public dollar,” Head said in a statement.

Mandeville council backs tax renewals

St. Tammany Parish government and justice system emissaries who sought the Mandeville City Council's backing for upcoming courthouse and jail tax renewal elections got a leery response from some council members.

Ultimately, though, the council adopted a resolution in support of renewing the two sales taxes, at a slightly lower level. 

State District Judge Raymond Childress made the initial pitch, pointing out that 10 percent of the proceeds from the Justice Center tax will be used to fund specialty courts that focus on underlying problems such as mental illness or addiction and that keep people out of jail.

Parish Chief Financial Officer Leslie Long and Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jeff Boehm also provided an overview of the two proposed taxes, which were retooled after voters defeated them last year.

The April 29 tax measures call for a 10-year renewal period rather than 20 and have been reduced from a quarter of a cent to a fifth of a cent each, which will yield $9 million a year each instead of $11.5 million.

Audience member Charles Goodwin complained that St. Tammany residents are overtaxed and that spending priorities are awry. He pointed to what he called budgetary excesses in the Coroner's Office and said money should be redirected to essentials.

He also raised the possibility that the taxes would be used to finance capital projects, something that Long said is not planned and would require approval from other government agencies.

The City Council didn't delve deeply into the parish's finances, and members questioned whether they should take positions on such issues at all. Councilwoman Lauré Sica offered a motion to defer, saying that the council needed time to consider both sides.

But the council rejected that motion after other audience members urged support for the resolution. Rick Danielson, a former City Council member, said the taxes are necessary and elected officials should support the parish.

Political consultant James Hartman, a former Sheriff's Office employee, said the taxes are well used and accounted-for. "It's the government's job to provide essential services; these are essential services," he said. 

The City Council then voted 4-1 in favor of the resolution, with Sica opposed.

Sheriff's Office turn in reality show ends

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office has wrapped up its participation in Season 1 of "Live PD," the A&E Network reality show that has tracked two Sheriff's Office units weekly, giving viewers an inside look at live police incidents.

The program airs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. In-studio hosts Dan Abrams and Tom Morris Jr. guide viewers through the night, giving insight on what audiences see in real time via a mix of dash cams, fixed-rig and handheld cameras, bouncing minute-by-minute between the featured police departments.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Daniel Seuzeneau said the agency will review whether it would participate in Season 2.

Compiled by Jeff Adelson and Sara Pagones

Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.