5) City to Take Up Flood Maps 
New Orleans officials are expected to take on the issue of newly released FEMA flood risk maps during this week’s City Council meeting on Feb. 19. Communities that access the federally-backed flood insurance program are required to adopt building codes based on elevations specified on the maps. The issue is more complicated for local governments, however, because ongoing repair and enhancement work of the region’s flood protection system is expected to significantly reduce flood risk when completed. FEMA is not requiring New Orleans area communities to adopt any code changes until 2011, but some local jurisdictions plan to voluntarily adopt them for certain areas. FEMA is posting its maps online at www.lamappingproject.com.

4) Last Chance for Hornets Trades
Basketball fans in New Orleans and across the league will be watching with interest or anxiety this week as the NBA’s deadline for teams to make player trades comes up. The Feb. 19 deadline is the last chance for the Hornets to improve their bench with new personnel this season. Mid-season trades can often dramatically alter play-off scenarios for teams across the league and hinge on factors ranging from team chemistry to injuries to each squad’s particular salary considerations. For updates, see www.nba.com/hornets.

3) Talks Resume for Jefferson Firefighters
The often divisive contract negotiations between Jefferson Parish officials and the firefighters union representing the parish’s east bank may resume this week. Firefighters with the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department have been at odds with Parish President Aaron Broussard’s administration over many issues, including a heated recent debate on revisions to the department’s sick leave policy. Negotiations between parish attorneys and union leaders stalled last month, but the Parish Council is expected to take up the Broussard administration’s latest proposal to come to terms with the union at its Feb. 18 meeting.

2) Recall Deadline Looms in Mandeville
Mandeville residents may learn this week if a grassroots campaign seeking the recall of Mayor Eddie Price will continue. Feb. 18 is the deadline for a recall petition to be certified by the St. Tammany Parish registrar of voters. In order to trigger a recall election, state law requires that one-third of a city’s registered voters sign the petition. The recall began in 2008 after a state audit reported troubles with Mandeville City Hall’s finances, showing that Price accepted gifts and travel from companies doing business with the city, awarded no-bid contracts to relatives and used a city credit card for personal expenses. Price was also in the news last year for crashing a city-owned vehicle through a tollbooth barrier on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. 

1) Mardi Gras Madness
Carnival season hits high gear this weekend with a line-up of super krewes, neighborhood krewes and family traditions galore. A new twist this year will be an extended parade route for some of the Uptown krewes, which will begin at Jefferson Avenue and roll down Magazine Street before turning on Napoleon Avenue to resume the traditional course down St. Charles Avenue. Krewes following this new route include Druids on Feb. 18, Muses on Feb. 19, d’Etat and Morpheus on Feb. 20 and Okeanos, Mid-City and Thoth on Feb. 22.  Other weekend highlights include the Krewe of Endymion on its traditional Mid-City route on Saturday and Bacchus on Sunday on the Uptown route.

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