Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Orleans Neighborhoods (Commentary) - "I encourage to hear from all sides..."

That's what District C Councilperson Nadine Ramsey stated today on the Garland Robinette show at the 14:33 mark.

That's a funny statement considering she not only wouldn't allow any discussion on the CZO in the town hall meetings she held leading up to the May 14, 2015 City Council meeting, she wouldn't even inform the public about what exactly the amendments were before she introduced them.  She simply stated, two days before the meeting, that she would be "introducing some amendments":

Councilperson Nadine Ramsey Town Hall Meeting - West Bank and Bywater - , May 12 & May 13, 2015 from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

She never informed the public about the nature of the amendments before she introduced them...period.  She gives a non-answer to this around the 17:00 mark in the Robinette show.

Ramsey introduced the amendments to the other council members at around 9 p.m. the night before the meeting.  That's legal but it sent the council reeling to try and figure out what they actually meant and what the real world effects would be.

Not only were the other council members confused, Ramsey herself didn't fully understand what was in them as you can see in this CC video when questioned by Councilperson Susan Guidry:

New Orleans City Council meeting, May 14, 2015 - Confusion regarding the Amendments from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

She was in the dark because the guy addressing the Council, Chris Young, lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Beverage and Alcohol Licensees and brother to Jefferson Parish President and candidate for Lt. Governor, John Young, is most likely the one who authored them.

In one humorous exchange, Councilperson Stacy Head puts the brakes on a vote and notes that since Young had left the room they couldn't get clarification on Ramsey's own amendment, NMR-15:

New Orleans City Council meeting, May 14, 2015 - Head notes that Young isn't available to explain an amendment from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

Noticed she asked Young if he had submitted the amendments to the City Planning Council.  If they were Ramsey's amendments why didn't she submit them herself? She even asked for Young's permission to table (sending it to the City Planning Commission for review) the amendment that would allow package liquor to be sold at all restaurants:

New Orleans City Council meeting, May 14, 2015 - Young agrees to send to CPC from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

In the Robinette show at the 26:45 mark Garland presses her on who wanted the amendments pushed through, she answers that it was the Louisiana Restaurant Association.  The caller on the line then asks her about the "liquor lobbyist" (Chris Young) and she responds "I'm not aware of....the person I worked with being a liquor lobbyist....I don't know who the liquor lobbyist is."

She doesn't know that Young is a liquor lobbyist?  How is that even possible?  It's not possible...she knows exactly who he is.

There's obfuscation and then there's just damn....^^^that.

Speaking of obfuscation, I filed a public records request for Councilperson Ramsey's schedule back in May of this year.  I got the schedule through outside (from CC)  counsel and about 15 to 20% of it had been redacted by Ramsey herself.  Redactions aside, she clearly met with Young numerous times since she took office in 2014. Here is her schedule:

Part 1  
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I'm not sure why she was allowed to redact the schedule before I received it but I don't have the legal resources to challenge it.  The content of the meetings is not necessarily public record but the fact that the meetings took place is public record.  She shouldn't be able to hide who she met with.

The bulk of these amendments were pulled by Ramsey today after she caught heat from the public and other city officials.

Councilwoman Ramsey to withdraw controversial proposals to loosen rules for liquor, entertainment

There was a poll conducted (District C) shortly after the amendments were first introduced which shows most constituents polled in Ramsey's district opposed the more contentious items.  Granted, they would have affected the entire city, not simply District C.

Putting aside the merit of the amendments, it's become painfully clear Councilperson Ramsey is catering to monied interests at all cost.  The question...what is that cost?  District C neighborhoods are by far the most volatile and threatened in "New New Orleans", it doesn't appear they have a sympathetic ear with their current councilperson who was willing to circumvent public discussion and the democratic process in order to jam power brokers' agendas, like Chris Young's, down our throats.

It's important that we keep a close eye on what our officials are doing right now, these decisions are going to affect the city's future in dramatic fashion. I'll leave you with French Quarter Citizens President Susan Guillot's comments:

New Orleans City Council meeting, May 14, 2015 - FQF President Susan Guilliot's comments from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

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