5) Average Hurricane Season Predicted
Leading storm forecasters from Colorado State University have issued their annual prediction for the upcoming hurricane season, which they believe will see an average number of storms. The forecasters call for 12 named storms, including six hurricanes. They predict two of those hurricanes will be major, and they say there is a 31 percent chance a strong hurricane will hit somewhere along the Gulf coast this season. The Colorado team scaled back an earlier prediction for a busier-than-average season, citing the hurricane-suppressing effects of El Nino conditions for the change. Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
4) Ethical Questions Swirl Around Mayor’s Vacation
Mayor Ray Nagin spent part of last week responding to questions about who paid for a Hawaiian vacation he and his family took in 2004. The questions emerged after court documents were unsealed as part of a civil lawsuit regarding the city’s troubled crime camera program. In a newly-unsealed sworn deposition, the city’s former chief technology officer, Greg Meffert, said travel expenses and other costs for the mayor’s Hawaiian vacation were paid by NetMethods, a company formed months earlier by city subcontractor Mark St. Pierre. The crime camera project suffered huge cost overruns and has been plagued by technical problems, which an investigation from the city’s Inspector General blamed partly on City Hall’s lax oversight of vendors.
3) Airport Inks International Deal
International flights are once again on the schedule for the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after a deal announced this week between the airport and the Mexican airline AeroMexico. The airline plans to launch six weekly, non-stop flights in July between New Orleans and Mexico City. The routes will have connecting flights to Honduras. The news marked the first regular international flight service for New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
2) FEMA Streamlining Recovery Offices
The Obama administration announced it would close FEMA’s Gulf Coast Recovery Office in a move intended to consolidate and speed-up hurricane recovery operations. The change means the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office in New Orleans will report directly to FEMA headquarters in Washington instead of routing decisions to and receiving oversight from the Gulf Coast office. The government has been investigating internal complaints of ethics violations, cronyism and harassment at the Louisiana office in recent months, and its previous director was reassigned. Louisiana officials greeted the announcement as good news for the region, agreeing it will help streamline ongoing recovery projects.
1) Public Raps City Leaders in Poll
The results of the latest Quality of Life Survey from the University of New Orleans showed widespread dissatisfaction among local residents with New Orleans’ top elected officials, while those in Jefferson Parish faired better. Just 24 percent of survey respondents said they were happy with the job Nagin is doing, down from 31 percent in last year’s survey. Nagin’s approval rating is the lowest the UNO survey has recorded for any New Orleans mayor since the annual poll began in 1986. Meanwhile the City Council’s approval rating dropped from 70 percent last year to 48 percent this year. In Jefferson, Parish President Aaron Broussard’s approval rating was 60 percent and Sheriff Newell Normand’s was 82 percent. In Orleans Parish, 59 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their lives and communities while in Jefferson that percentage was 93 percent. UNO interviewed 602 people for the poll.
Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at email@example.com.