New Orleans Top Stories This Week (Feb. 23-27)

5) Saints Roster Under Scrutiny, 4) National Guard To Pull Out, 3) Federal Report on Katrina Recovery, 2) Jindal to Respond to Presidential Address, 1) Mardi Gras, 2009

5) Saints Roster Under Scrutiny
The National Football League’s free agency period begins Feb. 27, and the New Orleans Saints may make some personnel changes in advance to keep within its league-mandated salary cap and remain flexible to add new players for the 2009 season. Already, veteran Saints tailback Deuce McAllister officially left the team, freeing up millions in contract obligations for the Saints. McAllister’s role on the team diminished in recent years after major surgeries and the advent of younger players. McAllister broke the team’s touchdown record in 2008 and became the first Saint to chalk up 6,000 rushing yards in his career.

4) National Guard To Pull Out
This week may see the departure of National Guard troops who have been patrolling city streets to augment the New Orleans Police Department. The troops have been deployed here since June 2006, after violent crime made a dramatic return to the then barely-recovered city. But facing questions about the expense of the deployment, Police Superintendent Warren Riley told state lawmakers he would not seek to extend the Guard’s stay past their scheduled departure at the end of February.

3) Federal Report on Katrina Recovery

A new report on hurricane recovery progress and related issues along the Gulf Coast is due this week to the office of President Obama’s new Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. She requested the report last month to get a better understanding of how issues including housing and federal funding for infrastructure projects have progressed here as the administration shapes its own plans for assisting the area. She said the government has "the opportunity to take a fresh look at rebuilding the communities impacted by Katrina so they will be safer and more economically and socially resistant to future disasters."

2) Jindal to Respond to Presidential Address
Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to deliver a nationally televised address on Tuesday, Feb. 24, after President Barack Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress. Following a major presidential address, TV networks typically offer time for the other major political party to respond. Leaders of the Republican party picked Jindal for this high-profile address, adding fuel to rampant speculation among political analysts that he is being eyed as a possible Republican presidential candidate.

1) Mardi Gras, 2009
Residents and visitors alike are preparing for the climax of Carnival season. As usual, a Lundi Gras celebration will be held on Monday by the Mississippi river at Spanish Plaza, where Rex, the King of Carnival, will make his ceremonial appearance at 6 p.m. The free celebration includes fireworks on the river and musical entertainment from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The next day, Fat Tuesday itself, will see Zulu and Rex making their processions down St. Charles Avenue and the spectacle of countless individual and family traditions played out in the streets of New Orleans.
 

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

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