1. FOUNTAIN MEMORIAL SET FOR AUG. 17
New Orleans clarinet great Pete Fountain, who died Aug. 6 after a long illness, will be sent off in style Aug. 17 with a visitation and words of remembrance at St. Louis Cathedral from 9 a.m. until noon, when a Mass will be celebrated in his honor. Following Mass, a jazz funeral and second line for Fountain will roll through the streets of the French Quarter, ending at the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.). For more on Fountain and his contributions to the city, see Commentary (p. 9).
2. Quote of the week
"I've always called a spade a spade. People don't like it — I'm not f—— running again and they can all kiss my goddamn ass. God bless you." — Outgoing Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck, on the Baton Rouge-based comedy podcast The Red Shtick. Heck achieved brief notoriety in 2015 when his name appeared on a hacked list of Ashley Madison clients (Ashley Madison is a website for married people looking to have affairs). Heck responded to that controversy on Twitter: "Dumb thing: went to Ashley Madison as a joke 5 years ago. Smart thing: Never went back. #sleepingoncouchtonight #smokinghotwife." Punctuating his point, he included an image of Homer Simpson saying "D'oh."
3. City Planning Commission: Short-term renting of entire homes should be illegal
The New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) says renting out entire homes in residential neighborhoods on websites such as Airbnb should remain illegal. On Aug. 9, following five hours of public comment, the CPC voted 9-0 to remove "principal" rentals — whole homes in areas zoned residential — from among four types of short-term rentals in its staff recommendations. Those recommendations outline a framework for legalizing short-term rentals in New Orleans. They now head to the New Orleans City Council for final debate and approval.
The CPC voted 8-1, however, on sending its amended recommendations to the City Council — Commissioner Nolan Marshall III, the CPC's biggest short-term rental critic, was the sole nay vote. "I don't believe in a short 10 years after a disaster we can 'disrupt' our housing industry," Marshall said, adding that companies and renters were bragging about exploiting an illegal industry and "profiteering" from "an illegal business model" — one that turns residential areas and their residents into tourist attractions. "I don't think I should be an attraction," he said. "I don't believe in it and I can't support it."
With "principal" rentals off the plate, the remaining types of rentals include "accessory" or owner-occupied homes renting out spare rooms; "temporary" homes rented for no more than 30 days a year; and "commercial" vacation homes in commercially zoned corridors. Those "commercial" zones, including whole swaths of the CBD and French Quarter, are not subject to restrictions on short-term rentals. The City Council will have the final say on the issue.
4. Brown: I'm not resigning
After state Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, was arrested on domestic violence charges for the second time in less than a year, Gov. John Bel Edwards — as well as Brown's legislative colleagues Sen. J.P. Morrell and Rep. Helena Moreno, both New Orleans Democrats — urged Brown to step down. As of press time, Brown said he had no plans to step down, despite having all his committee assignments stripped by state Sen. President John Alario, R-Westwego.
One influential Democrat was publicly ambivalent about Brown's future. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, head of the state Democratic party, issued a five-paragraph statement that ulti- mately neither supported Brown nor called for his resignation. "I will certainly keep all involved in prayer as these matters hopefully move toward final resolution," Peterson concluded.
5. Master Plan input due this month
New Orleans residents have until Aug. 31 to submit proposals for amendments to the city's Master Plan, the quasi-governing document guiding development and legislation for the New Orleans City Planning Commission and the New Orleans City Council.
The original Master Plan (aka "The Plan for the 21st Century") was adopted in 2010 by the City Council and amended in 2012. An amendment application process is required every five years. Visit www.nola.gov/city-planning/mpamendments for details and an amendment form.
6. NOPD: no more COMSTAT
As the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) begins to open thousands of records from its online database to the public, it will end its COMSTAT meetings. Those meetings — weekly, open-to-the-public, department-wide discussions among police about crime trends in each district — will be phased out as NOPD replaces them with "multiple high-level internal reviews on a monthly basis," according to a release from NOPD.
COMSTAT, which began in the 1990s and was opened to the public in 2010, will be replaced with "Management Analytics for eXcellence," or MAX, with an expected launch date of Oct. 1. That data also will be available to the public and will include updates on compliance with the court-ordered consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, among other internal reviews.
NOPD is among 21 police departments in the U.S. participating in the White House's Police Data Initiative. NOPD data is available at www.nola.gov/nopd/policing-data.
7. Levees.org plans Katrina memorial
Levees.org plans to open a Hurricane Katrina landmark in a Gentilly home near the London Avenue Outfall Canal levee breach. In September, the City Planning Commission (CPC) will decide whether to approve plans for the home on Warrington Drive, after which the New Orleans City Council must give final approval.
Levees.org director Sandy Rosenthal explained to the CPC that the organization plans to preserve the home, which had several feet of flooding following the 2005 levee failures, and render it as a piece of public art (as opposed to a museum inside the home), reflecting on the devastation. The inside would not be open to the public. Louisiana Landmarks Society Director Carol Gniady also supported the plans.
8. Farewell, Jo 'Cool' Davis
Gospel musician Jo "Cool" Davis died Aug. 5 at 63. Davis was a mainstay of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's Gospel Tent and a familiar face at Tipitina's, where he was the doorman for decades. As Gambit went to press, a public visitation and burial for Davis was set for Aug. 13.
9. Cade won't challenge court finding that ousts her from OPSB race
Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) Representative Cynthia Cade, who represents District 2, was officially disqualified from seeking another term last week. Cade, who has served on the OPSB since 2004, did not appeal a finding by U.S. Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese that she had not filed tax returns in several of the last few years as required by state law. Under another section of state law, that is grounds for disqualifying a political candidate. In a letter to supporters, Cade wrote, "Unfortunately, the joint filing process — permitted when using a professional [tax-preparing] program — apparently worked perfectly in 2011, but not in the years 2012-2015."
Cade's sole challenger, Ethan Ashley, is unopposed on the Nov. 8 ballot — making a majority of the seven OPSB races settled before the first ballot is cast.
10. Big Easy Roller Girls end the season
New Orleans' all-women roller derby league closes its 2016 season on Aug. 20. The Big Easy Roller Girls' Second Line takes on the Cajun Rollergirls, and the Big Easy Roller Girls AllStars also compete against members of the men's league the New Orleans Brass. The bout starts at 5 p.m. at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door; children's tickets are $5, and kids under age 6 get in free. Visit www.bigeasyrollergirls.com for details.