The ballot issue being discussed would provide brand new tax revenue for City Park, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, the city’s Department of Parks and Parkways, and the Trust for Public Land, the group behind the Lafitte Greenway.That is some heavy word choice from Conrad. You know who else had a "robust" plan to inform the community? The Times-Picayune.
It also would keep tax dollars flowing to the Audubon Nature Institute, a nonprofit which operates the Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Park and several other nature-based attractions for the Audubon Commission, a city agency.
An Audubon spokeswoman would not discuss how much money the agencies might seek or when they hope to put the issue before voters, but she said details will be released soon.
"We are in the process of creating a robust engagement plan to inform the community about the partnership ... and will have more information in the weeks ahead," Lauren Messina Conrad said.
It's fine to ask New Orleanians to boost funding for public parks. But a better deal for everyone would get us to a place where those same public funds aren't also supporting the social and political activities of the elite brunch clubs who sit on the boards of Audubon, City Park, and the Trust for Public Land. And they certainly shouldn't be purposed in ways that help those individuals compound their wealth. But Mayor Cantrell doesn't seem like she cares about any of that. All that matters to her is that everybody gets along. And since a lot of these rich people are friends and allies of hers, it's nice to see them all do well together. She really had to tip her hat to that.
"A lot of people felt like, 'Money is going to Audubon, and we don't know how they are benefiting or not,' " Cantrell said at a luncheon Thursday at City Park. "This time around, I really have to tip my hat to Mr. Forman, because he is rethinking and being creative as the taxes come up for renewal."But Forman isn't the only prominent Uptown political donor thinking creatively. Frank Stewart also has an idea.
A pair of men who opposed the toppling of Gen. Robert E. Lee's statue from Lee Circle want New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to replace the Confederate general with a plaza dedicated to a range of U.S. military and associated organizations.Stewart and Charles Marsala want to bring Lee back. Only this time they want to do it "inclusively." According to this logic, anyone who objects to the Lee monument must also hate the troops of diverse races and genders. It's the woke way to commemorate white supremacy.
And, apparently undeterred by the year and a half that has passed since Lee was taken from his pedestal, their plan calls for returning the focus of the St. Charles Avenue traffic circle to the man who led the Confederacy’s armies in Virginia with a series of plaques largely dedicated to his biography.
While the idea of a war memorial itself seems formulated to win broad support — the proposal specifies new statues should feature figures of diverse races and genders and include dedications to the troops of many wars, their families and even the Red Cross — the reintroduction of plaques lauding Lee would be a controversial move.
Cantrell hasn't publicly tipped her hat to this idea yet. But it's very much in the same spirit of what Forman is proposing. And, remember, the mayor said several months back she would be working with monument supporters like Stewart to come up with something that will make them happy.
As for resurrecting the fallen monuments, Cantrell she said she’d support the group's intentions but also made it clear where she thinks the city’s responsibility ends.That bit about how "they will pay for it" bears watching also. Particularly since they're going to install this on thing in a public space. And especially particularly if Forman's creative funding plan for those public spaces goes through.
“My plan is to work with those who care about them and come up with a plan that I could support,” she said. “And they will pay for it.”