New Orleans Top Stories Last Week (Feb. 9-13)

5) Civil Rights Legacy Honored
A 19th century milestone in U.S. civil rights was commemorated in New Orleans with a new historical marker at the site of Homer Plessy’s arrest in 1892. His case eventually led to a Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation under the doctrine of "separate but equal." An event to unveil the new marker at the corner of Press and Royal streets also included the debut the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation for Education, Preservation and Outreach, which will teach civil rights history.

4) Staffer Becomes State Museum Director
The Louisiana State Museum named a new director, choosing a veteran of its staff. Sam Rykels, director of the museum’s interpretive services, will now oversee the system that includes the Cabildo, Presbytere, Old U.S. Mint, Lower Pontalba Building and other sites in the French Quarter; a new museum in Baton Rouge near the Capitol; and facilities in Natchitoches, Patterson and Thibodaux. He replaces David Kahn, who resigned in last summer following a dispute with Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu over the museum’s management.

3) City Police Change Colors
As New Orleans police officers begin patrolling parade routes this season, they’re donning the department’s old familiar powder blue uniforms once again. Last week, NOPD announced officers’ official attire would change from midnight blue uniforms adopted after Katrina to the lighter color grab they wore for many years before the storm. NOPD changed colors after many uniforms were lost or stolen in Katrina’s aftermath, but they have been unpopular with many officers. Last summer, 35-year NOPD veteran Sgt. Bobby Guidry was disciplined for wearing the powder blue uniform on his last day before retirement. That matter is under review by the city’s Civil Service Commission.

2) Post-Hurricane Housing Assistance Extended
Area residents still living in emergency trailers or hotel rooms since hurricanes Katrina and Rita received a two-month extension to find their own housing. The Obama administration announced last week that the deadline for assistance to more than 7,000 families in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas still living in temporary post-hurricane accommodations would be extended from March 1 to May 1. The government also provided an extension for some 31,000 families who were scheduled to lose Disaster Housing Assistance Program rental subsidies at the end of Feb. 28, including about 15,000 households in the New Orleans area.

1) Jindal Tapped to Respond to Presidential Address
Leaders of the Republican party last week selected Gov. Bobby Jindal to deliver a nationally televised address after President Barack Obama’s upcoming first speech to a joint session of Congress. Following a major presidential address, TV networks typically offer the time for the other major political party to respond. The address is scheduled for Feb. 24, which is also Mardi Gras day. Jindal has frequently been touted as a possible future Republican presidential candidate, and political analysts have said this upcoming response to the president’s address should be a major boost to his national profile.

Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at

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