On December 1st, defeated Council Member Jared Brossett sent a letter to the Planning Commission with support from defeated Council Member Kristen Palmer and council member Cindy Nguyen requesting the Planning Commission rename Robert E. Lee Blvd in New Orleans’ Lakeview district to Allen Toussaint Blvd.
Why is Brossett telling Councilman Joe Giarrusso, who represents the area in question, what to do in his district?
The street is in Council Member Giarrusso’s District and the New Orleans City Charter advises a lengthy process to rename a street with the Council Member of that District being the lead. Granted Brossett, who received 11.1% of the voted in his recent council race, can submit to rename Robert E. Lee Blvd in Gentilly, which he represents. But Brossett has no authority in Lakeview.
Palmer, who received only 32% of the vote in her race, is blocking for Brossett and Giarrusso is, so far, silent. Why wasn’t the item on a City Council Agenda for the Council and the Public to comment on? The ability by the council to avoid Public Comments on matters a large percent of the public oppose is likely due to Jim Crow type laws the Democrats put in place in the late 1880s.
Brossett’s press release claims it is time to do the name change. However, Robert E Lee Blvd was in the Street Renaming Commission’s report submitted in June 2020 to the Council to rename 35 streets in New Orleans with no action taken by the council on that report. Residents in Lakeview had several other names presented for Giarrusso to consider.
Why the council delayed until less than 30 days before the end of Brossett and Palmer’s terms could be that Brossett and Palmer were fruitlessly campaigning to move on to Council Member at Large, another reason could Brossett’s second arrest from being intoxicated behind the wheel of a car kept him away from council meetings.
READ MORE: Jared Brossett Has To Be The Dumbest Politician In Louisiana, Right?
A third reason is the lawsuit filed by the American Italian Federation of the Southeast seeking to prevent the City from renaming Tivoli Circle, which the Street Renaming Commission suggested be renamed. Only the Hayride has reported that lawsuit. Streets are to be renamed to “remedy the violent mistreatment to immigrant groups” to which the Italian Community qualifies. Until that lawsuit is resolved the Street Renaming Report is on hold.
READ MORE: Italian American Federation Sues NOLA City Council Over Tivoli Circle
What this process does bring to light is that in 2015 at the request of Mitch Landrieu the Planning Commission issued a 28-page report on the benefits of keeping street names the same and using Honorary Street names as other cities have done. That is the best solution here.
Brossett’s argument is that Allen Toussaint lived on Robert E. Lee Blvd in Gentilly. However, Mayor Victor Schiro lived on Robert E. Lee Blvd in Lakeview. Schiro’s legacy as mayor of New Orleans (1961-1970) includes the city being awarded the Saints Franchise, pushing through building the Superdome, widening Poydras Street and the business development that went with the new office buildings, a peaceful integration of the city’s schools. Schiro convinced President Johnson to visit the city on the day after hurricane Betsy and travelled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for congressing giving storm victims a $5,000 loan forgiveness package. This was before FEMA existed and laid a foundation for Congress to create FEMA.
The Italian Community has suggested that an Honorary Street Sign for Mayor Victor Schiro be installed. This is the better solution over renaming 35 streets in New Orleans.