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Slidell opens new fire station at site of one destroyed by blaze

The Sam M. Zerkowski Fire Station that recently opened on Steele Road east of Slidell boasts a commercial-grade kitchen, a spacious lounge for firefighters and three bays for firetrucks, but what might be the most important feature is hardly noticeable: a sprinkler system and smoke alarms in the ceiling. The $1.1 million building replaces a station… Continue reading →

St. John levee approved by federal review board

A long-discussed $881 million plan to reduce storm surge from lakes in the River Parishes cleared another hurdle Friday, gaining approval from a key federal review board. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Review Board unanimously approved a report on the feasibility of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction… Continue reading →

State approves controversial drilling permit in St. Tammany

Drilling Permit

Helis Oil & Gas Co. scored a win Friday in the battle over fracking in St. Tammany Parish when the state Office of Conservation granted the company a permit to drill a 13,000-foot vertical well on a 960-acre tract of land south of Lakeshore High School. The approval was granted with a list of conditions, some… Continue reading →

Owner of Kenner’s blighted ‘dome house’ wants to fix it or sell it

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The city of Kenner is trying to work with the owner of this unusual, eye-catching but dilapidated home on Utah Street. The property is something of a curiosity and can be seen from the interstate.

Inspired by a lecture by architect and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller, Gilbert Bailey built himself a geodesic dome on Utah Street in Kenner in 1981. Sitting just off Interstate 10, the house’s unique design soon made it one of Kenner’s most recognizable buildings. Since Hurricane Katrina, however, its increasingly dilapidated condition has drawn a… Continue reading →

Negotiations for private takeover of West Jefferson hospital hit new snags

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

Negotiations to lease parish-owned West Jefferson Medical Center to a private operator appear once again to be in trouble, with a key negotiator for the Jefferson Parish Council accusing LCMC Health of radically altering its offer for the hospital, potentially lowering the value of the deal by $29 million. Also, once again, LCMC officials have sought to… Continue reading →

Mandeville council rejects moratorium on Trailhead residential units

When Mike Waller built several mixed-use buildings along the Tammany Trace in Old Mandeville in the mid-2000s, he was optimistic that the area would continue to develop and that some older, industrial-type sites would give way to a more pedestrian-friendly retail and dining district several blocks from the lake. That has happened — to a degree.… Continue reading →

Concerned Citizens moves to join Tammany government’s fracking suit

The activist group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany and its president, Rick Franzo, have been frequent and vociferous critics of parish government. But the two have found common cause in fighting the plan by Helis Oil & Gas Co. to drill a fracking well near Lakeshore High School. Attorneys for Concerned Citizens have filed a motion in… Continue reading →

Potential issue? Emails show close communication between New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, civil service chairman, Loyola president Kevin Wildes

Advocate file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- Rev. Kevin Wildes speaks at a Senate Commerce committee meeting at the State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge in this May 2010 Advocate file photo.

The Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University and until recently the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, consulted often with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration as the mayor pushed through a hotly debated package of changes to city rules protecting civil servants, email correspondence between Wildes and the Mayor’s Office shows. Wildes,… Continue reading →

Scalise condemns Obama moves on Cuba

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., left, walks with Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., walk from a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, to discuss the border crisis. House Republicans expressed optimism that a revised, $694 million bill addressing the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border would win over reluctant conservatives and give a divided GOP a political win. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise on Wednesday blasted President Barack Obama’s plans to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, arguing that doing so would “encourage bad behavior” and could lead other nations to imprison Americans in hopes of gaining concessions from the United States. The proposed foreign policy shift, kicked off by the release of an American… Continue reading →

St. Bernard courthouse to bear Rowley’s name

The St. Bernard Parish Courthouse in Chalmette will be renamed in honor of the parish’s longtime district attorney, Jack Rowley, who died last month at age 83. The Parish Council approved the measure Tuesday. Rowley’s career in St. Bernard politics spanned more than half a century. He was sheriff for 16 years… Continue reading →

St. John sheriff tightens financial controls in response to audit

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre at  the one year anniversary commemoration of Isaac at the St. John Parish Community Center in LaPlace, La. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre is tightening up internal policies for inventorying his office’s capital assets and making department purchases with credit cards after an annual financial audit recommended several corrective actions. The audit, completed in October by the Mandeville firm Carr Riggs & Ingram, covers the fiscal year that ended June 30.… Continue reading →

French Quarter groups sue city over public records access

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Jackson Square and the French Quarter are shown in this July 2013 Advocate file photo.

Two neighborhood organizations representing residents of the French Quarter have filed a lawsuit against the executive director of the City Planning Commission and two city attorneys, alleging that they have intentionally withheld public records in violation of state law. In a lawsuit filed last week in Civil District Court, Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates… Continue reading →

Fence along Earhart Blvd. train tracks to remain, without barbed wire

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Stacy Head got the City Council to establish a new interim zoning district in order to stop construction of this fence  around the Amtrak train line which parallels Earhart Boulevard.

A chain-link fence along the Earhart Boulevard train tracks can stay but the barbed wire on top must go under an agreement worked out between the city of New Orleans and Amtrak, which had been at odds over the barrier since September. The fence will be 9 feet high, 2 feet taller than originally proposed.… Continue reading →

Task force seeking ways to fix city’s ailing firefighter pension system

The New Orleans firefighters pension system is an outlier among similar plans, historically offering more generous benefits and requiring lower employee contributions than other systems in the Southeast, consultants hired to analyze the financially ailing system said Monday. The fund is expected to cost the city more than $60 million next year, a cost… Continue reading →

Five developers in running to take over World Trade Center building

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- The New Orleans World Trade center is seen from the West Bank of Mississippi River in 2013.

The city will consider five proposals from local and national developers hoping to take over the former World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street, after a selection committee on Monday eliminated five other projects from contention. Making the cut, in the order in which they were ranked, were:… Continue reading →

Manager at Armstrong Airport failed to enforce taxi rules, IG’s report says

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Taxi cabs line up in the near by cell phone lot at the Louis Armstrong International Airport  in Kenner, La. Friday, July 25, 2014.

The manager in charge of ground transportation at Louis Armstrong International Airport has been allowing taxi drivers to operate there without the required background checks or paperwork, according to a report released Monday by New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. The Inspector General’s Office reviewed files associated with 45 taxi decals issued by the airport between… Continue reading →

Proposed movie theater on North Broad in New Orleans wins planning panel’s approval

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--A 1920s building on 636 N. Broad St. has received a permit to be converted to a four screen movie house seen here in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.

A plan to convert an abandoned boxing club on North Broad Street into a four-screen movie theater moved closer to realization last week when the City Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for the site. The commission voted unanimously to approve the request by Brian Knighten, whose company, Get the Gorilla LLC, has proposed converting… Continue reading →

New $15M St. Tammany road to open Monday seen as catalyst for economic development

The 4.2-mile roadway that will connect Airport Road near Slidell with U.S. 11 beginning Monday was 14 years in the making, but when the project was first conceived, Parish Councilman Steve Stefancik envisioned something far more modest: a relatively simple and inexpensive gravel road. He wanted to provide another way in and out of the area… Continue reading →

Election raises questions for Dems, Landrieus in Louisiana

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu makes a campaign stop at Windolph Hall at Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette, La., on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Leslie Westbrook)

Among Louisiana’s battered Democrats, there are two ways of interpreting Mary Landrieu’s loss to Republican Bill Cassidy in last weekend’s Senate election — a blowout that marks the complete disappearance of Democrats from statewide elected office in Louisiana. From one point of view, Landrieu’s defeat is a one-off phenomenon: Her opponent, backed by an… Continue reading →

Chokehold of comedian by NOPD no laughing matter, and other N.O.-area political news

Actor and comedian Dave Chappelle attends the 2014 GQ Men of the Year Party at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Images) ORG XMIT: CADS113

The New Orleans Police Department has, of course, faced more than its fair share of complaints about improper use of force over the last few decades. That history is one of many reasons the department is now under a federal consent decree mandating reforms ranging from better investigation of such incidents to flagging of officers who are repeatedly… Continue reading →

New Orleans City Council rejects Mayor Mitch Landrieu's idea to tap building fund for municipal judges’ salaries

The City Council has rejected Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s attempt to take money being collected for building maintenance at Municipal Court and use it to pay for salaries at the court. In a rare defeat for the mayor, the council voted 4-3 on Thursday against an ordinance that would have moved about $600,000 from the court’s building… Continue reading →

Peralta vetoes changes St. Bernard Council made to 2015 budget

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta leaves the parish jail after posting bond Thursday, April 24, 2014.

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta may be facing an array of legal troubles, but he apparently is not backing away from exercising his authority. On Thursday, he announced that he will veto seven items that were included in a last-minute amendment to the parish’s recently adopted $58 million operating budget for 2015 and will eliminate $225,000… Continue reading →

New Orleans City Council approves building community center on Earhart despite soil concerns

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Rev. Bro. Ale Mims holds up signs with BW Cooper residents and environmental protection advocates to protest the plans to build a management office and community center on land they say is contaminated at the council chambers in City Hall, New Orleans on Thursday,  December 11, 2014.

The City Council on Thursday gave the Housing Authority of New Orleans the go-ahead to build a community center at the Marrero Commons housing development on Earhart Boulevard, despite calls from some residents and environmental advocates to defer a vote until residents can be assured the site is free of contaminated soil. “Based on the data… Continue reading →

Gretna bans garage sales on weekdays

Gretna residents who want to have a garage or estate sale will have to do it on a weekend. The Gretna City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Wednesday that restricts the days people can sell personal items from their homes. The council acted after receiving complaints about people having garage sales that… Continue reading →

Jefferson council and ethics panel agree on IG’s access to executive sessions

Jefferson Parish’s inspector general will be allowed to sit in on executive sessions of the Parish Council when invited by the council, according to an agreement reached between the council and the parish’s Ethics and Compliance Commission. Councilman Ben Zahn on Wednesday withdrew a measure he proposed recently that called for a change in state law… Continue reading →

Board of new St. Tammany levee district holds first meeting

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --   Ronnie Simpson, director of St. Tammany Parish's intergovernmental relations, shows new board members how to use the mircrophones during the first meeting of the St. Tammany Parish Levee, Drainage and Conservation District Board Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, at the St. Tammany Parish Council Chambers north of Mandeville. The levee board members are, from left: Dan McGovern IV, Henry DiFranco Jr., Stephen Phillippi, Lou Sandoz, Shelby LaSalle Jr., and Rykert Toledano Jr.

When Isaac’s storm surge pushed water into the north shore communities of Slidell, Mandeville and Madisonville in 2012, many officials felt neglected by the regional flood protection authority, which they said focused on the storm’s effect on areas south of Lake Pontchartrain. That’s why many of those same officials, including St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister,… Continue reading →