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Local immigration activists have mixed reactions to Obama’s speech

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at Del Sol High School, in Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The president unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation, setting off a fierce fight with Republicans over the limits of presidential powers. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Irma Esperanza Lemus was at church Thursday night when President Barack Obama announced new protections that will affect roughly 5 million undocumented immigrants. After the service, she and her fellow church members watched a rebroadcast of the president’s address on the Spanish-language cable channel Univision. Many cried. “Some parts were good; some parts… Continue reading →

City Council makes small changes before approving city’s 2015 budget

Advocate file photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--  New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses the media in city hall before presenting his 2015 budget to city council in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. EMS director Dr. Jeffrey M. Elder stands to the left of the mayor and the city's Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin stands to the right.

The New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to increase the budgets of several city departments, including Sanitation, Health and Public Works, and to remove $1.6 million from the Fire Department’s pension fund as the council approved a $536.8 million general fund operating budget for 2015. The panel approved the budget unanimously, changing the final total very… Continue reading →

Louisiana same-sex marriage proponents seek shortcut to U.S. Supreme Court

Advocate photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Andrew Bond and Nick Van Sickles are one of six legally married couples who argue that Louisiana must recognize their marriages just as the federal government does. Nick holds their adoptive daughter Jules, 2.

The plaintiffs in Louisiana’s lawsuit over same-sex marriage are hoping to leapfrog the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is scheduled to be heard in January, and go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Forum for Equality Louisiana and other parties trying to overturn Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage filed a request… Continue reading →

Costly dispute over Gretna fence continues to drag through court

Scott Schlegel

It started with a fence that City Hall said was 2 feet too tall, but an ongoing dispute between a Gretna lawyer and the city is now known mostly for how high the legal bills have piled up after three years in court. The city reportedly has spent $200,000 on the litigation thus far, and Mark… Continue reading →

Civil Service Commission urges bigger raises for N.O. cops

The Civil Service Commission will recommend that the City Council adopt a budget for 2015 that includes a 10 percent pay raise for New Orleans police officers — double the 5 percent proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The commission voted unanimously Monday to endorse a report from its staff that calls for a 20 percent raise… Continue reading →

Commercial kitchen in Carrollton gets commission’s OK amid fears about gentrification

Photo provided by Google Maps -- An April 2014 image of the building at 8837 Willow, slated for redevelopment into the Carrollton Commissary commercial kitchen.

A proposal to renovate a blighted Carrollton area store into a commercial kitchen expanded into a far broader discussion last week before the City Planning Commission about how the rapid rate of development in New Orleans can affect longtime residents. The commission ultimately decided that those societal issues can’t be saddled onto an individual business owner and voted… Continue reading →

Coming soon: design guidelines for Kenner’s Rivertown district

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Kenner's Rivertown on Williams Boulevard.

Kenner may not have developers beating down its doors to build high-rise condominiums in Rivertown just yet, but the city is nonetheless taking steps to preserve the district’s charm. The Tulane Regional Urban Design Center has a $15,000 contract with the city to come up with design guidelines by the end of the year… Continue reading →

Levee board grappling with armoring dilemma

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The Army Corps Engineers has agreed to place armoring Ð synthetic mats that reinforce the grass Ñ on the landside of the new levees it built around metro New Orleans. That move, long sought by the state, would raise the levee resistance to collapse because of overtopping from the 100-year-storm level to the 500-year storm. The corps says it expects to spend about $300 million on the project. The corps is testing the mats along the protecttion levee in St. Charles parish. Caitlin.E.Campbell and Andrew Moore of the corps stand on the levee.

How soon do you want to feel safe from a 500-year storm? That’s the $300 million question a local flood protection authority is now struggling with. The Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to place armoring — synthetic mats that reinforce the grass — on the land side of… Continue reading →

Pearl River politics in flux as mayoral candidates prepare for runoff

Pearl River Mayor James Lavigne, left and Town Clerk Diane Bennett Hollie

Kathryn Walsh spent her first four years on the Pearl River Board of Aldermen constantly at odds with Mayor James Lavigne, who was blistered by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office in May and indicted for malfeasance a few weeks before election day. Walsh, who persistently questioned the administration, endured a contentious first term.… Continue reading →

Proposal to ban smoking in N.O. bars ignites citywide debate

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- William Fogus takes a puff while sitting in the Milan Lounge in New Orleans, La. Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. City officials are trying to pass an ordinance prohibiting smoking in bars.

This again? That was a common refrain heard in smoky barrooms across New Orleans last week as talk turned to the potential smoking ban expected to be introduced at the City Council’s meeting Thursday. “If and when they get it passed, by all means, no smoking in bars,”… Continue reading →

Court clerk testifies by his own rules, and other area political notes

Arthur Morrell, the clerk of Criminal District Court, arrived at the New Orleans City Council chamber on Thursday and planted himself before the dais. The odd thing was, he was not scheduled to appear before the council, which has been taking presentations from one agency after another during its hearings on the 2015 budget. In fact,… Continue reading →

Nicosia sworn into office as St. Bernard DA

Photo provided by the Knights of NemesisPerry Nicosia, Knights of Nemesis Royal Night 2014.

Recently-elected St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Perry Nicosia was sworn into office two months early on Friday following the death last week of his longtime predecessor. The Parish Council called a special meeting Friday afternoon to appoint Nicosia to the job, swearing him into a position that he won in a three-person race Nov. 4.… Continue reading →

Belle Chasse woman accused of filing false report against council candidate

Michelle Wilcox, of 112 Hunt Street in Belle Chasse, was arrested on a charge of criminal mischief on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 for allegedly filing a false police report.

Authorities in Plaquemines Parish have accused a Belle Chasse woman of filing a false police report after she allegedly embellished her version of an exchange she had with a Parish Council candidate to include an allegation of unauthorized entry into her home. Cmdr. Eric Becnel, spokesman for the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Michelle Wilcox, 47,… Continue reading →

Crowd fills high school gym for latest forum on Tammany fracking well

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- A truck parked outside displays it's opposition with the proposal to set up a fracking well in St. Tammany Parish at the Louisiana of Department Resources public hearing about the Helis' drilling permit on the Northshore held at Lakeshore High School in Mandeville on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

Wednesday night’s public meeting on a proposed fracking well in St. Tammany Parish differed from previous forums in one key respect: Representatives from Helis Oil & Gas Co., the company that has applied for a permit to drill the well, made a lengthy and detailed presentation. The hearing was also unique in that it was hosted… Continue reading →

Coyote sightings on increase in Gretna

In this Oct. 6, 2014, photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, two coyote pups are seen in the tall grass at the Queens Zoo in New York. There has been an increase in sightings of coyotes in the Gretna area. (AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Julie Larsen Maher)

Gretna residents are seeing more coyotes and calling their City Council members about them, but local trapper Chuck Parker cautioned Wednesday night that the animals are not about to disappear and actually have some benefits for humans. Parker, who owns a wildlife control business, was asked to brief the Gretna council because of the… Continue reading →

Council members seek ways to increase funding for NOPD monitor

Susan Hutson

Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson appeared to pick up a few important allies Wednesday in her ongoing feud over funding with New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. After Hutson laid out her case for seeking $338,000 more than the roughly $500,000 Quatrevaux has set aside for her office in 2015, some members of the City Council… Continue reading →

Federal judge urged to throw out wetlands-damage lawsuit

Attorneys representing nearly 100 oil and gas companies told a federal judge Wednesday that a sweeping lawsuit accusing the companies of destroying coastal wetlands in southeast Louisiana should be thrown out. The hearing before U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown was the first real legal test of the case brought by a New Orleans-area levee authority… Continue reading →

Jefferson Parish leaders focus on jobs, infrastructure in annual address

 Jefferson Parish President John Young

Jefferson Parish has made big strides with limited resources in recent years, but it must continue to focus on workforce and infrastructure development in order to meet the challenges of the next decade. That was the message delivered Wednesday by Jefferson Parish President John Young and Parish Council Chairman Elton Lagasse in their annual “State of… Continue reading →