5) New Emphasis on City’s Minority Contractors
Two committees of the New Orleans City Council will meet jointly this Thursday, June 25, to devise enforcement strategies for a new ordinance intended to get more federal recovery funding into the hands of local, small businesses owned by minorities. Last week New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow brought forward an ordinance aimed at giving such companies, called Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), greater access to city contracts and rebuilding projects using city funds. The goal of the ordinance is to have these firms control at least 50 percent of any project funded by the city. Boosters say the ordinance stands to maximize the economic impact of federal recovery funding by ensuring much of it is spent with local firms.
4) Universities Consider Governance for New Hospital
The board for the Louisiana State University System is expected to meet today to consider a new deal with Tulane University aimed at breaking an impasse over management of the proposed $1.2 billion teaching hospital for New Orleans. Tulane’s board was scheduled to meet late last week as well to discuss the proposal, which outlines a governance structure for the nonprofit corporation intended to run the hospital. Leadership at the two universities have been at odds over who sits on the board for the proposed hospital. LSU has tried to bar Tulane’s inclusion on the board because the university runs a private hospital that would complete with the new facility while Tulane has sought representation on the board to ensure it could train medical student there.
3) Crime Camera Civil Suit Resumes
The civil lawsuit involving companies that supplied the city’s notoriously problematic crime camera program is expected to resume this Thursday, June 25. In the suit, one-time city contractors Southern Electronics and Active Solutions claim City Hall insiders and computer giant Dell conspired to steal their crime camera technology. A state judge earlier ordered the deposition of Dell CEO Michael Dell. The civil lawsuit has sparked criminal inquiries into the dealings of City Hall and its vendors and revealed details under testimony of Mayor Ray Nagin’s family vacations paid for by affiliated firms.
2) Historic Hotel Reopens Downtown
The Roosevelt New Orleans is scheduled to reopen Thursday, June 25. The historic hotel is now a Waldorf Astoria Collection property with more than 504 rooms and close to 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The hotel first opened as the Grunewald in 1893 and was later known as the Roosevelt. It was called the Fairmont for many years before Hurricane Katrina, but had been closed since the storm until the Waldorf Astoria bought it and began extensive renovations. The new Roosevelt will feature the Blue Room theater and the Sazerac Bar, two iconic venues form the hotel’s past.
1) Budget Finale for Legislative Session
The state legislative session is slated to end this week, on Thursday, June 25. These final days of the session are expected to be busy as lawmakers wrangle with a $28 billion budget for next year. The state expects to see a $1.3 billion drop in revenue in the coming fiscal year, and the question of cutting funding for programs, raising taxes or finding other forms of revenue to make up the difference continues to rage.