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Nila Guhasarkar, 13, tosses bread in the air as she and her family feed the ducks and seagulls along Big Lake in New Orleans City Park. A millage on the May 4 ballot would reallocate some city funds to the park for the first time in its history.

CANTRELL MEETING IN COUNCIL DISTRICTS REGARDING PARKS & REC MILLAGE

Mayor LaToya Cantrell last week started a neighborhood meeting tour in all five of New Orleans’ council districts to discuss a parks and recreation millage proposal which will appear on the May 4 municipal ballot.

The millage, if passed, would not increase the overall property tax rate. Instead, it would redistribute existing revenues among the city’s various parks, decreasing the Audubon Commission’s millage from 3.31 mills ($10.9 million) to 1.95 mills ($6.6 million) while boosting funds for the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and the Park & Parkways Commission.

Most significant, it would allot .61 mills (more than $2 million) to New Orleans City Park, a state agency which never has been funded by the city. That money, according to the plan, would expand City Park security patrols, improve drainage and allow for infrastructure improvements. Changes would take effect in 2021, and the millage period would end in 2040.

Cantrell’s neighborhood tour seems designed to draw a line between this millage plan and one that was on a 2014 municipal ballot. The 2014 proposal would have combined two separate millages that solely benefited the Audubon Commission and kept that plan in place for the next 50 years. Voters rejected that plan by a 65-35 percent margin.

The council district tour began in District B Feb. 7 and will continue this week in District A on Feb. 12 (City Park, Parkview Terrace Room), District C on Feb. 13 (Algiers Regional Library), District D on Feb. 19 (Corpus Christi Community Center) and District E on Feb. 25 (East New Orleans Regional Library). All meetings are from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Landrieu on possible presidential run: ‘I don’t think so,’ but ‘never say never’

The night after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address — during which many of the seats were filled with declared and likely 2020 presidential candidates — former Mayor Mitch Landrieu appeared on CNN’s “New Day” morning show and said “I don’t think so” when asked if he was likely to jump into the race for the nation’s highest office.

“The field is getting filled up. I think the Democrats have a lot of great candidates. I feel very comfortable that there are people who are going to get into this race," Landrieu said, adding, "Each and every one of them, by the way, are better than what President [Donald] Trump is offering for the country right now.”

Since leaving office last year, Landrieu has continued to promote his memoir “In the Shadow of Statues” and his nonprofit The E Pluribus Unum Fund, the mission statement of which is to “bring people together across the American South around the issues of race, equity, economic opportunity and violence.” His nationally acclaimed speech about the removal of Confederate monuments drew the attention of pundits speculating about the 2020 presidential race, and the publication of his memoir in his last weeks as mayor was taken by some as a rite of passage toward seeking higher office. He currently is serving as a visiting fellow at the Harvard University Institute of Politics through spring 2019.

Landrieu, who is known to keep his options open, told “New Day” that he would “never say never” when it came to running for president. New Orleanians will remember the 2010 mayoral race, in which Landrieu entered at the last minute, upending the field and eventually winning his third bid for the office.

As for Trump’s State of the Union address, Landrieu was dismissive: “Nobody believes anything that he said. You can’t kick your dog all day and then at night pat him on the head and tell him that you love him and expect him to believe it,” he told CNN.

Greener Gras: Recyling program returns to Uptown parade routes

Old-timers may remember the days when New Orleans used to judge the success of Mardi Gras by the amount of trash picked up off the streets.

Now we have a better metric. Last year, during just one parade, volunteers from the Young Leadership Council (YLC) and the Arc of Greater New Orleans (ArcGNO) collected 2,500 pounds of beads, 10,000 cans and 2,000 plastic bottles during just one day of parades during the 2018 Mardi Gras season.

That pilot program — YLC Recycles — will be expanded this year, according to the YLC, with volunteers from the Mardi Gras Recycling Initiative hitting the Uptown parade routes Feb. 23 and March 2 following the Krewe of Freret and Krewe of Tucks parades, respectively.

Volunteers in lime-green vests will be in the crowds distributing two kinds of bags: one for aluminum, paper and plastic recyclables, and another for unwanted beads. In addition, business owners along the parade route are asked to set up recycling stations at their businesses (contact recycles@ylcnola.org).

On Feb. 16, during the Krewe du Vieux parade in the Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter, YLC volunteers also will set up temporary receptacles along the route for paper, plastic and aluminum recyclables only (no beads).

Beads collected along the routes will be donated to ArcGNO for its ongoing program of recycling carnival throws. Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities sort and repackage beads for sale at the group's store (925 Labarre Road, Metairie).

“We are so excited to team up with ArcGNO once again for this year’s initiative,” said Rachel Skowyra, project leader for YLC Recycles. “The immense community support we received last year on the route was an inspiring reminder of what we can achieve when we work together.”

YLC is looking for 200 volunteers for the project, and can be contacted at recycles@ylcnola.org.

Albright to speak at Tulane Feb. 12

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be the featured speaker next week at the Tulane-Aspen Institute Values in America Speaker Series at Tulane University.

Albright, who in 1997 became the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, will be interviewed by Tulane history professor Walter Isaacson about her 2018 book, "Fascism: A Warning."

The event will be held Tue. Feb. 12 from 6-7 p.m. in Dixon Hall on the Tulane University campus and is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session and book signing with Albright will follow.

Angela Hill to lead Nyx

The Mystic Krewe of Nyx announced last week its 2019 grand marshal would be Angela Hill, the former WWL-TV anchor and WWL-AM radio show host.

In a statement, Nyx founder and captain Julie Lea said, “Angela Hill is New Orleans. She is part of the fabric of this city and has obviously been a huge part of Mardi Gras over the years. I couldn’t be happier that she will lead this year’s parade.”

Goddess Nyx VIII will be Shelby Ann Seuzeneau.

In its eight years parading, Nyx has grown into the city's largest parading krewe, according to "Mardi Gras Guide" author and Carnival historian Arthur Hardy. It currently has 3,348 women members. Membership currently is closed and has a waiting list.

Nyx will roll at 6:45 p.m. Wed. Feb. 27 on the Uptown route (following Ancient Druids).