Italian American Federation Sues NOLA City Council Over Tivoli Circle

Charles Marsala, President of the Italian American Federation of the Southeast, addressed the New Orleans City Council Government Affairs Committee on October 28, 2021.

During an agenda item reviewing the Inspector General for the City of New Orleans, Marsala suggested the IG Office review how the City Council and its committees and commissions are limiting and restricting public input.

Earlier in 2021, the State of Louisiana Attorney General’s office advised the New Orleans Street Renaming Commission State laws were being violated in the manner in which it was limiting public comment.

Marsala, a former Mayor of Atherton, California, noted to the Government Affairs Committee chaired by Council Member Kristen Palmer that Louisiana differs from the law of other states in that it allows for a committee chair not to allow public comments for items not on the agenda.

Marsala spoke to the state legislature during the 2021 session asking them to revise state law. He suggests this unique Louisiana State Law comes from the Jim Crow era.

The Italian-American Federation of the Southeast lawsuit claims that the renaming of Tivoli Circle was not in the scope of the New Orleans City Council Motion M-20-170 creating the Street Renaming Commission (SRC) and therefore the SRC was acting in error to suggest renaming Tivoli Circle.

By not placing the Italian community on an SRC agenda, the SRC was purposely acting to control the information that it was changing the name of Tivoli Circle outside of its mandate. Dozens of Public Comments were submitted informing of the legal name of Tivoli Circle and requesting Tivoli Circle be an agenda item with a representative of the Italian Community on the agenda. The SRC Chair declined.

The response of the SRC was to not read most Public Comments into the record. Thus, State Law was violated. This promoted action from the State Attorney General’s office against the SRC.

In 2020, the City Council of New Orleans passed Motion M-20-170 to rename streets named after Confederate figures to “Remedy the Violent Mistreatment of Immigrant Groups.” The 1891 Massacre of eleven Italians qualifies as “violent mistreatment.” Tivoli Circle is not named after anything to do with the Confederacy nor anyone Confederate.

The lawsuit requests the land inside Tivoli Circle, which is legally named Tivoli Place, be used to honor military veterans due to it being located 300 feet from the National World War II Museum.

Previously Charles Marsala has suggested converting Duncan Plaza at City Hall into a Civil Rights Park and Museum. Marsala has suggested a Musicians and Chef Walk of Fame along the River from the Governor Nicholls Wharfs to the Ferry Landing.

Related is ongoing mistreatment of the Italian Community as the City Council’s Government Affairs Committee has refused to place on its agenda the request by the Italian community to erect ten Louisiana State approved Historic Markers.  Currently city park officials refuse to approve requests for placement of Italian markers while erecting other markers.

On October 12th, 2021  The Italian American Federation of the Southeast filed a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans regarding Tivoli Circle.

At the October 28, 2021 Government Affairs Committee Meeting an offer was made to meet to resolve the recent lawsuit that was filed.

The meeting should be as an agenda item during a Council meeting.

Motion M-20-170 mandated the Street Renaming Commission to “remedy the violent mistreatment of immigrant groups.”

The Italian community fits that mandate.

Previously the Louisiana Attorney General advised the Street Renaming Commission they had violated state law by not reading Public Comments into the record.

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