5) City Sues NOAH Contractors
The controversy over the New Orleans Affordable Housing (NOAH) program that erupted last summer has led to new lawsuits filed by City Hall against six of its former contractors. NOAH was intended to help low-income residents gut and board-up flood damaged homes, but reports from local bloggers and the news media revealed that much of the work contractors were billing to the city was never done. Though the Nagin administration initially accused those who documented the issue of hurting their city’s recovery, City Hall soon disbanded the program and laid off its staff. Last week’s lawsuits were filed against contractors who did not document the work for which they billed the city or refund the city’s money. The U.S. Attorney’s office and the Inspector General’s office earlier announced investigations into the program.

4) Hornets Pack Them In
In a stunning turn-around from earlier seasons, the New Orleans Hornets announced this week that game attendance has been so strong the team will not receive financial support from the state this year. Fans have been packing the New Orleans Arena to approximately 99 percent capacity so far this season. Early in last year’s season, facing lackluster attendance, the Hornets and the state struck a deal whereby the team would receive public subsidies if attendance and revenues fell below established benchmarks. Those benchmarks have been far surpassed, the team said.

3) Public Records Scandal, the Mayor’s Version
A judge slapped the Nagin administration with fines and plenty of admonishment from the bench for its failure to fulfill public records requests. The action comes after City Hall said it was unable to supply the mayor’s e-mail records and official calendar for a records request from local news media, explaining those records were deleted because of computer storage restrictions. The ruling found that Nagin and City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields "avoided their responsibility to comply with the Public Records Act by simply ignoring" the request, and found their failure to respond "unreasonable and arbitrary." Professionals in the data recovery business have come forward with the opinion that the mayor’s records could probably be retrieved.

2) Public Records Scandal, the City Council Version
The scandal over the treatment of City Council e-mail records continued to play out in court orders and sparring between attorneys this week. It was revealed earlier that when local attorney Tracie Washington filed a request at City Hall for the e-mail records of four City Council members and their staffers, the city’s sanitation director Veronica White bypassed the city attorney’s office to fulfill the request herself. This week a judge ordered Washington to hand over the records she was given and to disclose to the court the names of anyone with whom she shared the data. The judge will review the correspondences to determine what content is privileged and what content can be released to the public. Meanwhile, reports surfaced this week that federal agents seized the computers of sanitation director White. 
1) FEMA Forms Decision Team
Newly appointed administrators at FEMA have created a new team intended to resolve funding disputes and speed lagging hurricane recovery projects in the Gulf region. FEMA’s new "decision team" will consist of federal and state officials tasked with prioritizing projects and deciding how to get them moving by using a consensus approach. FEMA has been sharply criticized by local and state leaders as being inflexible or slow to respond to their needs after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated much of the region. New cabinet-level leadership appointed by the Obama administration has pledged to streamline the agency’s processes and help put the region’s recovery on track.

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