Winners must hit the ground running
At the end of the local elections, it was still unclear exactly when Mayor Ray Nagin will officially begin his second term, but a date likely will be set shortly. Because the elections were delayed by the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the early May inauguration date also had to move. Whatever the date, both the mayor, who is expected to shake up his executive staff, and the new four City Council members will have to scramble to get their respective offices in order. All are likely to be seated no later than June 1.
State plans dry run on hurricane prep
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness will host a two-day hurricane exercise this week to test an emergency operations plan. Over the course of two days, federal, state, local and private entities will practice protocols for preparing for and responding to a hurricane.
In New Orleans officials will conduct a drill to test local and regional communications capabilities. The city’s Emergency Operations Center also will rehearse protocols for moving people in need of assistance through evacuation processing centers, using role players at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.
The Governor’s Office said that the Louisiana National Guard will involve its Tactical Command Post and Joint Operations Center in both exercise days.
Incredible shrinking government
Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s long-stalled initiatives to streamline New Orleans government by consolidating the two court systems and cutting the number of assessors from seven to one, may finally see some action this week as the legislative session enters its final 30 days.
Sen. Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles, said she expects a hearing for her proposal, SB-645, which would merge the Orleans Parish Civil and Criminal District courts, their two clerks offices and put the register of conveyances, recorder of mortgages and notarial archives director into the civil clerk’s office.
Mount’s bill may be merged with a similar measure in the House, HB-514 by Rep. Peppi Bruneau, in an effort to speed up the consolidation effort.
Both bills would allow judges, clerks and other court personnel to serve out their terms, and would authorize a state Supreme Court study of the courts to recommend whether the number of judges should be increased or cut.
Festival of wining, dining
Nothing comes between New Orleans and a wining-dining opportunity. Thus, the New Orleans Wine and Food Extravaganza will unfold this week for its 15th annual run. The five-day event sponsored by the nonprofit NOWFE sends proceeds to benefit the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s School-to-Career Program, a mentoring curriculum serving Louisiana residents interested in restaurant careers, and the University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism, which prepares graduates to become leaders in the hospitality industry.
Events beginning Wednesday include tasting seminars; vintner dinners at various fine-dining restaurants; the Royal Street Stroll, where wine is served in galleries and antique shops along the street; and “grand tastings” that feature food by local chefs and wines from more than 200 vintners from around the world. Some events are sold out. for availability, prices and where to buy tickets.
Greek week(end)
Also not to be missed is the 33rd run of the annual Greek Festival New Orleans, which this year marks the comeback of the landmark church and grounds next to Bayou St. John near the lakefront. Seriously flooded last August, the site has been restored in time for the festival to return on its traditional Memorial Day weekend schedule.
With a theme of “Greeks Love New Orleans,” the festival will offer the usual line-up of Greek cuisine, arts and entertainment, along with new attractions. Guests also can register to win a trip to Greece. Event schedules for the Friday-through Sunday celebration are available .