“Don’t Trash DAT!” is New Orleans’ new anti-littering slogan, and it was introduced this afternoon at Basin Street Station, the visitors’ center near the French Quarter. Many of the city’s top tourism leaders joined Mayor Mitch Landrieu for the kickoff of the campaign, which is one of the keystones in the city’s preparation for a particularly busy 18 months of high-profile events, including the Sugar Bowl and BCS National Championship (Jan. 2012), the NCAA Final Four (March-April 2012) and, of course, the Feb. 2013 Super Bowl.
The campaign, Landrieu said, is coming with an increased crackdown on businesses and homes in the French Quarter. “I have instructed (NOPD) Chief (Ronal) Serpas to enforce all laws on the books,” Landrieu said, mentioning parking on the sidewalk and not “cleaning up outside your establishment” as two things that will not be tolerated any longer in the Vieux Carre.
“We in New Orleans have a tendency to throw things on the ground,” Landrieu said.
At a press conference tomorrow, city officials are expected to announce that graffiti tagging in the French Quarter will now be prosecuted as a felony rather than a misdemeanor offense.
District C councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the French Quarter, said that of the 8 million visitors who came to New Orleans last year, 84 percent of them visited the French Quarter, and she wanted to eliminate graffiti, crime and trash “to make it a reflection of us as a people.” For those who have complained of not being able to find municipal trash cans, Landrieu said that deputy mayor Cedric Grant would be placing more cans around high-traffic areas.
Others on hand included Darryl Berger, head of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation; Bill McCreary, a Starwood Hotels executive and chairman of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau; Kurt Weigel, head of the Downtown Development District; and Justin Augustine, vice-president of Veolia Transportation, which runs the Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
Scott Hutcheson, the mayor’s point man on the cultural economy, said the “Don’t Trash DAT!” slogan would soon be appearing on buses and streetcars, as well as on bumperstickers and a series of radio and TV public service announcements.
Landrieu also encouraged people to “say something” if they see a neighbor littering, and drove the point home with a real-world example: “Say you’re having a crawfish party on the lakefront,” he said. “Don’t leave it all there. Take your stuff home with you.”