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Jefferson Parish officials honor Metairie St. Patrick parade’s founder, who died Monday

Johnny Marchese

Two days after the founder of Metairie’s popular annual St. Patrick parade died, Jefferson Parish officials on Wednesday honored him for spending more than four decades organizing what was described as “no bigger gathering.” Johnny Marchese, who died at his home Monday at age 97, got the first St. Patrick parade rolling through Old Metairie in… Continue reading →

Engineer: Crescent City Connection corridor transition fund should last until 2019

Advocate staff file photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ ---The Crescent City Connection is lit up in the background as the Algiers Ferry heads to Canal Street on Tuesday, March 26,  2013.

A fund that pays for the maintenance of landscaping and street lights along the 13-mile Crescent City Connection corridor grew from $5.8 million to $6.3 million between May 2013 to the end of June 2014; and because of that, the fund shouldn’t be expended until 2019, a district engineer administrator for Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and… Continue reading →

St. Tammany Economic Development Director Shea terminated

Donald Shea, who has been St. Tammany Parish’s Economic Development Director since 2013, was terminated Tuesday, Shea said. Parish spokesman Ronnie Simpson confirmed Shea’s departure in a five-line statement. “It has been decided that it is in the best interest of Parish Government that Mr. Shea pursue other opportunities,” the statement said. “We wish Mr. Shea… Continue reading →

Why is Bobby Jindal aiming to restore an ineffective Louisiana tax instead of trimming tax credits he dislikes?

Associated Press file photo by Joe Skipper -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Even Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top aides have been highly critical of some of the tax credit programs they administer, such as the state’s heavy subsidy of the film industry and its so-called Enterprise Zone program, which has forced Louisianians to help cover the cost of putting retail stores and restaurants in wealthy neighborhoods. But both of those… Continue reading →

Prytania Street B&B can add restaurant, City Council says

An Uptown bed-and-breakfast can expand to include a restaurant, the City Council has ruled, overturning the recommendation of the City Planning Commission. The zoning change needed for the expansion was opposed by several neighborhood organizations. Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, whose district includes the Prytania Street business, said she moved to overrule the commission because the… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pivots on tax credits, marking a big change in philosophy


After years of hewing zealously to a promise never to approve a tax increase — a pledge that he believes also prevents the elimination of any state tax breaks — Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday unveiled a budget plan for the coming year that trims tax credit programs by a whopping $526 million.… Continue reading →

Bad timing: Scandals, criticism erupt around Louisiana’s film credit program

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints cheerleaders the Saintsations dance on the field in a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. A reality TV show produced about the Saintsations by Horizon Entertainment got $1 million in state film tax credits.

The timing couldn’t be much worse for supporters of Louisiana’s film industry. As the state stares down a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, one due in part to the spiraling cost of corporate giveaways, a fresh wave of scandals has erupted around the film program, giving new ammunition to critics at a moment… Continue reading →

Abortion clinic in New Orleans sees construction restart, but protests continue; ‘God hates this project,’ one pastor says

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Protesters lined up outside the site of the new Planned Parenthood building on South Claiborne in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The site has resumed construction on Tuesday, after a year of delay.

Planned Parenthood has resumed work on a controversial new clinic in New Orleans, eight months after pressure from the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and anti-abortion protesters shut down construction. Planned Parenthood expected to have the clinic open for business by now, but only the bare foundation has been laid so far after the archdiocese succeeded… Continue reading →

Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s appeal to be heard Tuesday

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard arrives for sentencing  in federal court in New Orleans in 2013. Broussard is trying to get his guilty verdict set aside based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s bid to get his 2012 guilty plea on federal corruption charges thrown out will go before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Broussard, who is serving a 46-month sentence in a Florida prison, contends the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevented his lawyer from effectively representing him by keeping… Continue reading →

Possible pot of cash for more state troopers: uncashed lottery tickets

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Newly graduated police officers Aundeah Kearney and Roger Benson stand in ranks Friday, December 5, 2014 at Dillard University before a graduation ceremony. 26 members of NOPD Recruit Class #170 are now officers.

With the crime rate on a worrying trajectory in New Orleans, state Rep. Helena Moreno thinks she has found a way to pay to get more cops on the streets. And she thinks she can do it without raising taxes or taking money from other vital budget priorities. Moreno, D-New Orleans, wants to draft… Continue reading →

Two New Orleans-area lawmakers draft legislation to rein in film tax credit program; critics say proposals are too timid

Louisiana state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, left, and state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans

In an effort to tackle the skyrocketing costs of one of Louisiana’s most high-profile giveaway programs, two New Orleans-area lawmakers have drafted legislation that would cap costs and eliminate certain expenses now subsidized under the state’s generous film tax credit program. The biggest changes would be setting a $300 million limit on the program’s annual… Continue reading →

New CVS approved for vacant strip mall on Magazine Street, but neighbors say 'too many pharmacies'

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--The  City Planning Commission will consider a proposal to turn a former Blockbuster Video at the intersection of Magazine Street and Louisiana Avenue into a CVS drugstore seen here in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015.

A plan to replace a vacant former Blockbuster Video store on Magazine Street and the rest of the businesses that remain in the same mini shopping center with a CVS pharmacy won unanimous approval from the City Planning Commission on Tuesday. The proposal, which calls for a store spanning the entirety of the 9,000-square-foot strip mall… Continue reading →

New Orleans panel rejects proposal to update vacant Frenchmen Street building

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The City Planning Commission is considering a proposal to turn a former home for children on Frenchmen street into a hotel.

The City Planning Commission on Tuesday rejected a proposal to turn an unoccupied Frenchmen Street building into a boutique hotel. Even though the proposal had the support of the neighborhood association, a 5-3 majority of the commission said it does not fit with the city’s master plan. The final decision is up to the… Continue reading →

Bell Junior High building in Treme to be converted into affordable artist housing

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  The former Bell Junior High School in the Treme Historic District, pictured here in 2013, may soon be converted into artists' lofts and studios. There are several structures on the extended campus including this multi-story turn of the century Gothic building that was once part of St. Josephs Academy. There is also a chapel building dating to the mid-19th century. The message on the sign dates to the summer of 2005.

The board of the Housing Authority of New Orleans voted Tuesday to allow the agency to purchase the former Andrew J. Bell Junior High School from the Orleans Parish School Board and immediately transfer the property to a private developer who will turn the Treme campus into a place for artists and others to live and… Continue reading →

Mandeville property to become lakefront restaurant amid resident objections

Few things stir the residents of Old Mandeville more than developments along the city’s picturesque lakefront. Whether it’s bathrooms at a park, a “poetry box” near a stand of oak trees or a developer’s plan for a new restaurant, proposed changes to the city’s shore often draw crowds and emotional feedback. It was the… Continue reading →

Plans for Cafe Habana in French Quarter clear another hurdle

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The proposed Habana Outpost site is at a long abandoned gas station at the corner of North Rampart and Esplanade.

A proposal to turn two vacant buildings at the edge of the French Quarter into a Cuban restaurant received the blessing of the City Planning Commission on Tuesday despite sharp and persistent objections from some Quarter residents, who said the restaurant would be too large for the neighborhood — the same argument they have made… Continue reading →

Streetcar line on Canal may reach a little farther

The streetcar line on Canal Street may soon extend a couple of blocks farther and meet up with the bus routes that stop at the southern end of Canal Boulevard, a step the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority hopes will make transfers easier and improve safety. The project would amount to only a small extension of… Continue reading →

3,000 tax-delinquent properties in New Orleans headed to auction this July

Thousands of properties taken over by the city because of unpaid taxes will be offered for sale at auction this summer, senior officials in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration said Monday. The city intends to put more than 3,000 “tax-adjudicated” properties, mostly vacant lots, on the auction block beginning in July. The properties will be… Continue reading →

FEMA awards $2.4 million to Jefferson, Plaquemines for Isaac repairs

Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes will split more than $2.4 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair buildings that were damaged during Hurricane Isaac in August 2012, the agency said Monday. More than $1.2 million will cover repairs to various Jefferson Parish Department of Water facilities and will finance measures to protect against… Continue reading →

Contract approved for LCMC Health to operate West Jefferson Medical Center

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

After more than two years of twists and turns and difficult negotiations, Jefferson Parish has approved a 45-year lease agreement authorizing LCMC Health to operate publicly owned West Jefferson Medical Center in return for up to $245 million in payments to the parish and $340 million in capital improvements. The deal, which also requires… Continue reading →

Single security district considered for four New Orleans neighborhoods

Associated Press file photo

With New Orleans Police Department staffing well below its ideal level and fear of crime on the rise, four neighborhood groups along St. Claude Avenue are talking about creating a private security district that could stretch from Esplanade Avenue to the Industrial Canal. The proposal is expected to be put before the voters in the Marigny,… Continue reading →

Capitol Buzz: Jindal to join Christian group on Israel trip

Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling -- The Louisiana State Capitol

Gov. Bobby Jindal will join the Family Research Council on a trip to Israel this fall. According to the FRC’s event itinerary, Jindal and guests will arrive in Tel Aviv on Oct. 28. The tour will include sightseeing at the Sea of Galilee and Mount Carmel before heading to Jerusalem and then the… Continue reading →