1. Nagin subject of CNBC's AMERICAN GREED
The CNBC documentary series American Greed has its season premiere March 31 with an installment titled "Ray Nagin: New Orleans Shakedown." The hourlong report, which begins at 9 p.m., will focus on Nagin's business dealings, including those with now-disgraced and jailed former tech whiz Greg Meffert. Also in the story: Stone Age Granite & Marble, the granite company Nagin ran with his sons. Nagin, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February 2014, is serving a 10-year prison term in Texarkana, Texas.
2. Endorsements, and spoof endorsements
"I am really, really irritated by these people who think they are smarter than the American people. ... I want to see the American people heard and I want to see Donald Trump president." — Former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, expressing his support for the leading GOP presidential contender.
Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge-based parody website The Red Shtick (www.theredshtick.com) had a story titled "GOP Establishment Hoping to Stop Trump With Bobby Jindal's Endorsement of Trump." The spoof story quoted a Republican National Committee spokesman as saying, "We're hoping Gov. Jindal's notorious kiss-of-death endorsement will finally undermine Trump's seemingly indefatigable popularity."
3. A step closer to REAL ID
The Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee last week approved Senate Bill 227, which would bring state identification cards into compliance with federal "REAL ID" standards, which have been in place since 2005 in an effort to fight terrorism. Previous bills have been attempted, but former Gov. Bobby Jindal and some Republican legislators fought the move, saying it opens the door to invasion of privacy. SB 227 would make REAL ID-compliant licenses available upon request, and has the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Louisianans without REAL ID licenses eventually will need a passport or other identification to board domestic flights and to access federal buildings.
4. Spring concert schedule overflowing
New Orleans' spring concert calendar is starting to fill up as the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival approaches.
The Roots, the long-running hip-hop outfit (and house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) will perform a guest-filled tribute concert to the late Hot 8 Brass Band saxophonist Clarence "Trixzey" Slaughter at The Orpheum Theater April 29. Warren Haynes, Don Was, John Medeski and others join a tribute to The Band's The Last Waltz at the Saenger Theatre on April 30.
The Saenger's Jazz Fest lineup also includes a Janis Joplin tribute (April 18), The Smashing Pumpkins with Liz Phair (April 22) and Trombone Shorty (April 23). The Orpheum Theater has Chick Corea and Bela Fleck (April 16), The Meters (April 22), The Revivalists (April 23), Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. (April 26) and Galactic with JJ Grey & Mofro (April 30).
5. Big change for public housing up for vote this week
The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) is set to approve new rules that would allow people with criminal records into public housing, which can be a crucial part of re-entry post-incarceration. Local housing advocates, however, fear third-party property managers and landlords may interpret the language in the measure as optional, not mandatory.
The proposed measure, set for a HANO board vote March 29, allows people convicted of crimes such as armed robbery and murder to receive public housing assistance, pending approval from a three-member panel. (Currently, families with household members who have been convicted of a crime can be turned away following a criminal background check.) Language in the proposed rule changes doesn't make the rules expressly mandatory. Members of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, Stand With Dignity and Voice of the Ex-Offender, among others, are demanding HANO revise the proposed policy to apply not only to direct-run HANO sites but also to private developers who receive federal funding for affordable housing.
6. Carville, Matalin to discuss presidential election
Political analysts/spouses Mary Matalin and James Carville will be the guest speakers at the 7th annual Ed Renwick Lecture Series March 30 at 7:30 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, is at Loyola University in the Nunemaker Auditorium at Monroe Hall. It's sponsored by Loyola's Institute of Politics. Matalin and Carville will discuss the 2016 presidential election.
7. Religious freedom panel presented by ACLU
"Freedoms for All Faiths" is the topic of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Louisiana's upcoming panel on religious liberty. The panel discussion begins at 7 p.m. April 6 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (2903 Jefferson Ave.) and is free and open to the public. Actor Mike Farrell will moderate.
8. Jazz Fest changes: Don't block the vibe
When New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival producer Quint Davis announced the 2016 daily lineups last week, there was a bit of other news. At this year's Jazz Fest, chairs and tarps will be banned from the dirt track of the New Orleans Fair Grounds after attendees complained the obstacles made it difficult to get around. In addition, two new sets of public bleachers will be erected: one behind the Congo Square Stage, the other facing the Acura Stage. Crowds and traffic jams have been a problem in recent years, especially during performances by popular acts like Elton John and Bruce Springsteen. This year's Jazz Fest will be held April 22-24 and April 28-May 1.
9. Permits for (nonexistent) medical marijuana stores
Under a measure signed into law last year, a host of statewide agencies is now responsible for drafting the rules for planting, cultivating, turning into medicine and prescribing marijuana in Louisiana. The drug's availability is still hypothetical; legislators envisioned a pill or an oil with marijuana-like effects but without a high. It'll be several years before that product is developed (if it can be developed), but on March 23, a Louisiana House committee gave the thumbs up to a permit to sell it.
House Bill 466 by pharmacist and state Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, allows the state's Board of Pharmacy to create a marijuana pharmacy permit fee (at no less than $5,000). Under the law passed last year, the state caps the number of marijuana pharmacies at 10. An approved permit would be $150. The measure now heads to the full House this month before being heard in the Senate and sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Despite last year's law, possessing marijuana — even with a prescription —is against the law in Louisiana.
10. Appellate court on monuments: Not so fast
A federal appellate court put the brakes on the city's plans to remove three Confederate monuments and a statue honoring a white supremacist revolt. A March 25 ruling from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials, preventing the removal of the monuments before the plaintiffs have a chance to have their appeal heard. The monuments' removal was decided by a New Orleans City Council vote in December following several public meetings. The Monumental Task Committee, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for a Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130 filed a suit against the city following that decision, but their case was dismissed in federal court.