The New Orleans City Council is expected to drop a controversial proposal that would have required every business with a liquor license to install security cameras linked to a government monitoring center.They aren't actually backing off, though. They're just falling back on subtler modes of coercion.
City Councilwoman Stacy Head, who sponsored the ordinance at Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s request, will withdraw it and introduce a proposed ordinance that, she said, will only change which city department issues liquor licenses.
On Tuesday, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which deals with those cases, signed consent decrees with two bars requiring installation of cameras “providing a live feed to the city’s Real Time Crime Center.”Yeah, that's how they like to do it.
That’s the city’s name for its new video monitoring center, which collects video feeds from cameras all over the city.
The affected bars are Chuck’s Sports Bar in the Central Business District and the Hangover Bar in the Seventh Ward.
“It does seem somewhat like an end-run around” the passage of a law, said Ethan Ellestad, director of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, which has campaigned against the surveillance ordinance.
“They can still put in a proviso that anyone who goes before the ABO board has to be part of that network,” he said.
Also there's plenty of stuff worth paying attention to on Thursday's agenda besides the ABO ordinance. Stacy Head wants to impose a "hard cap" on the number of strip clubs permitted on Bourbon Street (against the Planning Commission's recommendation.) Also there are some short term rental spot zoning requests, notably the former Zara's case, which, yeah, the Planning Commission recommends against that one too.
In the meantime keep an eye out for the surveillance ordinance, or something like it, to come back during the next council's term. After they strongarm enough businesses into having the cameras anyway, everyone will be used to it by that point anyway.