Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday news pump

We're getting an update from S&WB this afternoon after their meeting.
NEW ORLEANS, LA. - City officials are scheduled to give an update Friday on the status of repairs at New Orleans’ drainage pumping stations.

Members of the Sewerage and Water Board will hold a special meeting to discuss repairs and possibly appoint a new interim director. The meeting starts at 1 p.m.

The meeting will include the leadership already in place at the S&WB as well as the team Mayor Mitch Landrieu put in place to lead during hurricane season. The mayor is confident that the team will make necessary changes within the S&WB.
Right, so Paul Rainwater gets introduced as the Coach O of the board for now. Watch for that today.

Meanwhile, LaToya Cantrell gave a speech this week about the city's drainage issues.  Obviously this is going to be a top theme in the campaign now given the events of last month. And I suppose we should be relieved to see infrastructure displace crime as the number one issue. At the same time it's hard to feel encouraged. This isn't a case of new priorities emerging thanks to an engaged electorate or a diligent press. And we sure as hell aren't benefiting from strong candidates. Instead, the campaign narrative has refocused because a disastrous flood happened.  Are our politics really only capable of producing nothing but cynical reaction?  Actually, don't answer that.

As for Cantrell's "plan," it's a big mash up of the hottest takes from the last few weeks. If you've heard your friends, neighbors, or media personalities do any drainsplaining lately, odds are LaToya has a shout out to something you've heard about.  Get more money from the Convention Center, lift the property tax exemption from nonprofits, fold S&WB into City Hall, levy that (highly questionable) stormwater drainage fee we wrote about the other day.  She even suggests finding money somewhere in the WTC redevelopment deal which is something Desiree Charbonnet highlighted in her housing plan. It's dubious whether any of these ideas is readily workable. Some of them are not even good ideas.

But that isn't the point.  This isn't a coherent policy document. It's a big kitchen sink campaign flier. All it does is list things people might like to hear while promising not to tax them too much "until later." 
The Landrieu administration has begun to design a fee built on how much rainwater runs off private properties into the public drainage system. Cantrell said she would support such a fee, but her approach would single out universities, hospitals and other nonprofit entities exempt from city property taxes.

It would not include tax-paying property owners until a later stage, she said.

"This is something I believe will be significant to improving the revenue source and stream to ensure we improve the overall infrastructure of our city," Cantrell said.
People like that. The wealthier property owners LaToya tends to favor like that, especially. They also like prison labor. Maybe we can give them that and clean storm drains.  Is that asking too much?  Maybe not. 
She pitched using local inmates, through a partnership with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office, as "boots on the ground, helping, again, improve our infrastructure," but she didn't elaborate on what type of work they would do.
Something for everybody in this plan. 

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