A group advocating for better job training opportunities argued this week that not enough attention is being paid to requiring bidders seeking to build Louis Armstrong International Airport’s new terminal to pay high wages, provide opportunities for low-income and previously incarcerated workers and engage with the community.
Stand With Dignity was joined by former City Councilman Oliver Thomas, who left the council after pleading guilty to bribery charges, in calling for greater community input into the choice between Hunt Gibbs Boh Metro and NOLA Airport Builders, the two joint ventures vying for the contract to build the $546.5 million terminal.
Neither joint venture showed up at a “community evaluation commission” session last week, which earned some criticism from members of the community group who appeared at the actual evaluation committee’s meeting Thursday.
The community group called attention to disparities in pay and employment between white and black workers, something Thomas told the evaluation committee it had a duty to address.
The evaluation panel eventually recommended Hunt Gibbs Boh Metro.
Airport nixes proposed political advertisement
Speaking of the airport and wages, activists seeking to call attention to the gender pay gap in Louisiana won’t be putting up billboards at the airport because of a policy that bars political advertising there.
UltraViolet, an online community that opposes sexism, had hoped to put up purple, green and gold ads in the airport to highlight disparities between the amount of money men and women in the state make and to call attention to other facts the group says are harmful to women.
The signs would have noted that women in Louisiana “are paid $0.67 to every man’s dollar,” that more than 22 percent of Louisiana women live in poverty and that “many” of the state’s politicians opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and then-U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon were the only two Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation in 2009 and the only two members of that delegation to vote for that measure, which removed some restrictions making it difficult for employees to bring suits charging pay discrimination.
The airport’s agreement with the company that handles advertising in the terminal, Clear Channel Airports, does not permit political advertisements, airport spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said. That agreement also prohibits tobacco advertising and offensive material, she said.
In a news release, UltraViolet said it will try to rent space for the billboard near the airport.
New law forces JPs, constables to retire
A little-noticed piece of state legislation has apparently made nearly 200 constables and justices of the peace across Louisiana ineligible to run for re-election.
The law, sponsored by state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, removed a “grandfather clause” that had allowed constables and justices of the peace who are over 70 years old to run for re-election as long as they were first elected prior to 2006.
The law took effect Aug. 1.
According to the political newsletter LA Politics, which first reported the development, the law will affect at least 189 constables and justices — who are empowered to handle minor criminal matters — across the state.
Guillory told LA Politics that the change had been requested by the Louisiana Justices of the Peace and Constables Association. But Connie Moore, a justice of the peace in St. Tammany Parish and the association’s president, told nola.com that her organization had nothing to do with the bill.
“We don’t know where it came from,” she said. “We don’t know why it was introduced.”
One local constable who apparently won’t be affected by the bill is Orleans Parish Constable Lambert Boissiere Jr., who is 71. Boissiere is constable for a city court, which is dealt with in a separate section of Louisiana law than the one targeted by Guillory’s legislation.
According to a list published by LA Politics, the new law will force 15 local constables and justices of the peace into retirement: four in Jefferson Parish, two in Plaquemines Parish, two in St. Bernard Parish, three in St. Charles Parish, two in St. John Parish and two in St. Tammany Parish.
Compiled by staff writers Jeff Adelson and Gordon Russell