Archive for July, 2009

Annunciation Church Slated for Demo

2301 Marais St. Annunciation Church  1221 Mandeville St.  1225 Mandeville St.

Karen and I both got our instant grits on today when we saw the properties here as part of the agenda for Monday’s NCDC meeting. I emailed a “?” and she picked up the subsequent call with a fast, “What the fuck?” She tried to backtrack with a “Hello, how are you?” I wasn’t up for the pleasentries. I said, “No apologies necessary, any sense of urgency in this city is much appreciated on my end.” Neither of us are “from here”, so we’ve always worked together very well because we can skip the ‘Hello, it’s Karen, how are you?’ part of the conversation and get to the issue at hand!

After our brief discussion, we both went over to the 8th Ward ASAP to get a look at this unbelievable prospect to see if it was for real. Half a block, in the middle of a neighborhood, potentially gone. The neighbors I spoke to weren’t happy. They could see the tires and abandoned/stolen cars which would immediately replace the three structures. One neighbor said, well, “Maybe they are unable to pay the taxes?” But I pointed out that they are a church and don’t pay any property taxes. One person suggested they are tired of boarding up the door on the side of the church. . . still, not reason to tear down half a block of very sturdy, pretty significant buildings.

New Orleans Churches Website
History of Annunciation

This issue sits along side a number of other high profile demo requests for Monday’s NCDC meeting; There are a handful of Louisiana Land Trust properties (see photos) which should be sold “as is” as NORA acquires them and before they request demolition. We also have another application for a CVS going in where the Quiznos sits at Napoleon and S. Claiborne Ave right across from the Walgreens. I am somewhat amazed at the prospect of handling another pharmacy on Claiborne Avenue Uptown, while some three downtown grocery stores in the 6-9th wards, (Circle, Robert’s and Winn-Dixie and others), remain shut since the flood.

New Orleans one of the 10 Best cities for Local Food

I was reading through the Huffington Post this morning and came across the list of 10 Best Cities for Local Food. I knew there was no way New Orleans didn’t make the list so I clicked through and there we were at number 6. They say that we are “continuously endeavoring to green its cuisine.” which I suppose is true of nearly everywhere in America right now but come on, our best food isn’t exactly good for you but it’s still oh so good.

Good news for New Orleanians (maybe)

Apparently, New Orleans City Business covered this Cold Storage story last week, although they’ve just posted an update on their WordPress (freebie WordPress!?!) blog. Keeping up with the Joneses, the Picayune has now pubbed an article of its own:

Facing mounting opposition to the construction of a poultry exporting operation at the foot of the French Market, the Port of New Orleans is looking for a new home for New Orleans Cold Storage.Port administrators are asking tenants along the Mississippi River if they could make room on their property for the company, which the port fears will leave New Orleans without a new headquarters. New Orleans Cold Storage is the port’s second-largest customer.

“They’ve made it very clear that they’re going to continue to oppose this, and we’re going to see what the other alternatives are,” port spokesman Chris Bonura said of residents in the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater. Signs emblazoned with the message ‘Poison Port’ can be seen posted throughout the neighborhoods.

There are no guarantees that the port will find another home for New Orleans Cold Storage, Bonura said, and the company may very well end up on the Gov. Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves as planned.

But the fact that the port is even considering a new home for the company represents an aboutface for the agency, which just a few months ago said that the wharves near the French Quarter were the only option for New Orleans Cold Storage.

NOLA.com

But really, who cares who ran the story first? We’re close, y’all! Not out of the woods, but, you know, cross those fingers.

All the Mayor’s Men

Who can be this guy in New Orleans?

Who can be this guy in New Orleans?

What is really going on at City Hall in New Orleans? The latest in e-mail-gate is that the City has fired the company it hired to find Mayor Ray Nagin’s missing e-mails. The LTC announced last week that the mayor’s email box had been “intentionally been deleted” by someone with “high-level access”.

Of course the Mayor ‘s office disputes this and instead of handling the situation in a manner that would address citizen’s concerns, in typical Nagin fashion it’s ready, fire, aim. Sadly typical of the way this administration has operated in the last three and a half years.

The administration stated that the LTC breached a confidentially agreement when they announced to the public their findings before the city had the ability to read and address the LTC findings. That may well be the case. The problem comes though from the history of the Mayor himself. About 25% of the city’s population, and frankly that is being generous, believe anything that comes out of Ray Nagin’s mouth. Mayor Nagin dug that hole himself. The mixed messages just on this one issue are enough to make someone’s head spin. The first excuse was that the server crashed, that’s why the e-mails were gone. Then Nagin says all his e-mails are on his desktop from the June 2008 to May 2009. A total of 122 emails I believe was what the Mayor stated. I guess the Mayor wanted people to think that he only received 122 emails in 12 months time. The administration stated yesterday that “there was no server crash”. Huh? Say what? If there was no server crash, then where the hell is the Mayor’s e-mail box?

The interim city technology director says the e-mails can in fact still be retrieved. My question would be to Mr. Harrison Boyd is if that is the case then why is the city hiring companies to find the box. If you know for a fact that they are “on a physical server or a virtual server” Mr. Boyd, go find them. You are the technology director. Shouldn’t you be the one to know how the city’s system works?

This whole situation stinks. This city has reporters who are bulldogs like Woodward & Bernstein from Watergate fame. Good reporters who can don’t give up in pursuit of a story. What this city really needs right now though is a Deep Throat to really let the citizens what the hell is going on at 1300 Perdido Street.

Hurricane Ceremony XII

It’s that time of year again, folks:

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

HURRICANE CEREMONY XII

What: Public prayer ceremony dedicated to Our Lady of Prompt Succor (who has intervened historically on New Orleans’ behalf when a hurricane has threatened) and Ezili Danto (also associated with Mater Salvatoris and Moumt Carmel) to ask for protection from hurricanes

When: Saturday, July 18th at 7:00 pm

Where: Achade Meadows Peristyle, 3319 Rosalie Alley (off of Rampart, between Piety and Desire)

What to bring in offering:

For Our Lady: flowers, statues, candles, religious pictures, jewelry

For Danto: Barbancourt Rum, Clarin, Florida Water, candles, daggers, dolls dressed in red and blue with gold trim or calico prints, spicy black beans, peasant cakes, unfiltered cigarettes, pan fried cornbread with peppers, fried pork, white crème de menthe

What to wear: Please dress in white (the color of purity), with red head scarves, or all red (the color of Petwo rites).

Rosalie Alley

The Mayor’s Email Box Was Deliberately Deleted

oreally

The Ray Nagin Missing E-mail Caper just continues to get better and better. The City of New Orleans went ahead and hired the LTC (Louisiana Technology Council) , well not really hired since they offered to do the work for free, to “find” Ray Nagin’s missing e-mails. You know the e-mails requested by WWL-TV, in a public records request, that the mayor’s office stated “disappeared”.  Well the LTC did their work, dug through everything they could dig through and came up with their conclusion.

The Mayor’s Email Box Was Deliberately Deleted. That was the conclusion. No other e-mail boxes were missing. There was no “server crash” as City Hall claimed back in December. Someone went into the Technology Office and on purpose, deleted the entire folder of emails that were Mayor Nagin’s.

Richard posted Mayor Nagin’s response below. That in itself is a joke. His response of course is to blame the messenger. That wasn’t their duty, to find out why it was the way it was, we just wanted them to not find the emails and move on. That’s basically what Your Mayor, C Ray Nagin is saying.

I can promise you this. Mayor Ray Nagin is in some deep deep doo doo.  The Feds have basically set up shop in City Hall at this point. The Mayor can spin things anyway he wants to try to spin them. At the end of the day though, the Mayor is responsible for what is going on in this city and for the behind the scene dealings going on on Perdido Street. I never thought Mayor Nagin was a criminal until now. Clearly, someone told someone else to intentionally delete every email sent and received from Mayor Nagin’s city e-mail account. Why would someone do that unless they had something to hide?

Ammonia clouds: conveniently located near you!

Just as a tiny update to yesterday’s post:

Jefferson authorities probing ammonia leak on West Bank.

So I guess containment of noxious chemical fumes really isn’t a concern in these situations. Well, not for the Port, anyway.

Officials say ammonia leaks don’t cause deaths or evacuations THAT often. Um, yay?

Dear Port of New Orleans:

As much as we love you, we feel obligated to point out that articles like this one from the Times-Picayune probably aren’t the best way to inspire confidence in the public–especially when that public is already skeptical of your plan to sandwich an ammonia-filled industrial wonderland between two of Louisiana’s most important historic neighborhoods, the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny. Skim the first couple of paragraphs, and let us know if you can see the problem here:

Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter residents are concerned that the ammonia used to refrigerate a proposed cold-storage warehouse on the Gov. Nicholls Street Wharf will pose a public health risk, but experts say the chance of a chemical leak is slim if proper safety measures are in place.

“You can stop most of these incidents before they have a chance to be a major challenge if you have the right equipment and personnel,” said Gary Smith, president and founder of the Ammonia Safety Training Institute in Washington, D.C. “If it’s just cold storage, the ammonia stays in the refrigeration if good prevention habits are in place.” [Emphasis totally mine]

–plenty more ifs, ands, and buts in the full article at NOLA.com

Statements like that are kinda like saying, “No, hurricanes aren’t a problem for New Orleans, if the levees hold, and if federal, state, and city governments are prepared, and if the city’s evacuation strategy works like a charm. You know, if all that’s good, then we should be fine. Probably.” Do you see what I’m doing there? Right.

And a quick reminder: those of us who live here aren’t opposed to your project, just its location. Heck, your puppet minion buddy Jindal just shaved bejillions of bucks from higher ed, mental hospitals, and the like–surely he can throw a few at the Cold Storage project so it can move downriver just a tad? That would be the right thing to do, karmically speaking. (NB: Confused by karma? Ask Bobby.)

Anyway, thanks for listening. You were listening, weren’t you? …Hello?


Sully’s Story Update

Sullivan (1)  Sullivan July 2009 (1)

Nick and Josh and I went to visit Randall and see how big Sullivan has gotten in a year. Randall has taught Sullivan to roll-over on command.

It was really nice to visit with the Fox family. Sue, Randall’s mom, made the boys some scrambled eggs and Randall’s sisters graciously kept the boys occupied while we visited.

I was happy to hear Randall has been awarded full scholarship to UNO, where he’ll start in the fall. He’s going study Urban Planning. He was accepted to every college he applied to but UNO gave him the best deal and has the program he’s interested in. Randall’s also going into college with a buttload of AP credits from his extra work in high school. I am really proud of him. In addition to that good news, we were happy to see Sullivan is with a family who gives him plenty of love. He’s a very lucky and very smart cat !

Contrasts in Construction

Amelia and Annunciation 2009 (4)  Amelia and Annunciation 2009 (5)

I found this example of two starkly contrasting blocks of old and new construction located uptown at the intersection of Annunciation and Amelia.

Standing in the intersection, in immediate proximity of these contrasting styles, I found that they illustrate quite well criteria numbers three, four and six of the ordinance governing the NCDC (Neighborhood Conservation District Committee), on which I currently serve. We are obligated to consider all of these criteria collectively as we contemplate the impact of proposed demolitions on a case-by-case basis.

The main factors we consider under the new ordinance are:
1) Current Condition fo the structure.
2) Architectural Signifigance of the structure.
3) Historical Signifigance of the subject structure.
4) Urban Design Signifigance as it relates to the pedestrian perception and movement and the height, area and bulk of the structure and how it relates to the street scene traffic.
5) Neighborhood context of the structure.
6) Overall effect on the blockface.
7) Proposed time/length the subject site is anticipated to remain undeveloped.
8) Proposed plan for redevelopment.
9) Stated position of adjacent neighbors, neighborhood associations or other interested individuals or organizations, either in writing(email).

Amelia and Annunciation 2009 (6)

This block, with the traditional setback, is the type of architecture built by craftsmen and materials which are no longer available except through salvage shops and are a big attraction tourists who come from places where this style of architecture doesn’t exist. Along with our lovely oak trees, it is part of what makes our citys’ streets unique.

It is also worth considering the interior characteristics of the older shotguns which are often taken for granted in the traditional shotgun’s interior. Fireplaces, high ceilings, large floor-to-ceiling windows, including dormers as well as the old oak flooring, and often, plaster walls, all of which make New Orleans School homes more valuable and desirable. This compared with small, vinyl windows, low ceilings, cheap sheetrock and cheap parquet floors, plastic showers and non-descript home depot doors. At least the new construction on this block included porches.

Which block is more inviting/compelling to walk down? Which block offers the most compelling backdrop in which to carry on with the drudgery of life’s daily activities?

The one to the left of the intersection, or this one, on the right which could be anywhere U.S.A.:
Amelia and Annunciation 2009 (2)

While I know the importance of affordable housing, we also need to be careful where we put it. Imagine this old blockface with one of these new modular styles stuck smack in the middle of it.

As a member of the NCDC, I am often dumbfounded by the applicants who apply for demolition who have one of these old homes with superior construction and declare ignorantly to us that the property is not historical in their plea to demolish it and replace it with cheap alternatives, usually after years of their own neglect.

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