A major flaw in New Orleans transition of elected government officials is playing out as four council members after their defeat in 2020 elections railroad ordinances through in their last council meetings. In other cities across America newly elected officials are sworn in immediately to prevent lame-ducks from passing ordinances for their personal benefit, for favored constituents, and campaign donors.
Since their defeats in November General Election Council Members Brossett and Palmer and have sought to burden the citizens of New Orleans with multitude of ordinances. Council Members Banks and Nguyen were defeated in the runoff elections and have joined Palmer and Brossett in what is a classic example in bad governance.
At the December 16th Council Meeting Palmer has pushed through a zoning ordinance to help developers by waiving parking space requirements on conversions to expand the number of units on existing properties from two to four. Palmer is a real estate developer.
In June 2019 four citizens filed an ethics complaint against her regarding Short-Term-Rental policies she was pushing through. The authors alleged she had a “clear and long-standing conflict of interest” in authoring and approving temporary short-term rental regulations in May 2019.
Council Members Banks and Nguyen were defeated in the run-off elections. At the December 16th council meeting, Council Member Banks pushed through an ordinance to allow the police department to deputize city employees to issue municipal court citations for a wide range of activities including trash can lids not touching the rim of the bin. Only Council Member Moreno voted against the ordinance noting the incompleteness of the proposal. With trash pickups often delayed in New Orleans most residents have trash bins that do not fully close.
Brossett, with the support of defeated council members Palmer, Banks, and Nguyen, is seeking to rename Robert E Lee Blvd in Council Member Giarrusso’s district in their last days of office. The December 16th council meeting went 9 hours and 28 minutes. With approximately 45 minutes remaining in the meeting Council Member Giarrusso left the dais and avoided commenting on Brossett’s motion to rename Robert E Lee Blvd in his district. Public Comments were not read.
So far Giarrusso has yet to state publicly why he hasn’t either endorsed or opposed Brossett’s motion. Leaving the dais before the vote on the item has some constituents thinking Giarrusso knows his soon to be former council members are acting in bad governance but does not want to call them out and doesn’t want to be on record to his constituents who have campaigned to either keep Robert E. Lee Blvd, change the name to honor the Irish Immigrants of which approximately 20,000 died digging the New Basin Canal, or add an Honorary naming for Mayor Victor Schiro who lived on Robert E Lee Blvd.
Brossett requested the Planning Commission suspend its rules in three ways to review the renaming of Robert E Lee Blvd. First there was no full staff report. Staff did advise the Planning Commission amend Brossett’s motion and for a limited time keep the street name West Robert E Lee Blvd between West End Blvd and the 17 Street Canal. The Planning Commission waived the 60-day period to rush the Planning Commission meeting that Brossett requested. Proper notice to the public was not given.
The Planning Commission held a Virtual Meeting, which the state laws state should only be held for matters of emergency. On Thursday the City Council will decide the matter using a virtual meeting. Likely the council will follow its pattern and not read all public comments.
On the same agenda Brossett is proposing to rename a portion of Louisa Street. This will not burden the businesses and residents with the confusion of street renaming. Problems Council Joe Giarrusso does not seem to mind letting Brossett and Palmer inflict on the residents of Lakeview.