In The News › Group calls for new planning process

Aug 12, 2006

Source: New Orleans Magazine

Group calls for new planning process

TOP 5 STORIES FROM THE PAST WEEK
1 2-08-06 20:47
BY: IAN MCNULTY

5) Allstate Found Itself Underinsured

Homeowners in southeast Louisiana who gambled that they could
get through the 2005 hurricane season with less than enough
insurance may be able to feel some empathy with Allstate Insurance
Co. The Associated Press reported that the Illinois-based company,
which made headlines in July with its plan to revoke coverage for
thousands of Louisiana property owners devastated by hurricanes
Katrina and Rita, decided not to buy its own insurance policy against
losses in the region last year. The A.P. reported that Allstate did not
buy reinsurance for its business risks in Louisiana in 2005. Insurance
companies buy reinsurance on a global market to reduce their
exposure to risk in the event that they need to pay customers on the
policies they sell them. Allstate became embroiled in a fight with
Louisiana insurance officials over its plan to revoke coverage for
approximately 30,000 policyholders. State officials say the plan
violates a consumer protection law governing insurance business
practices.

4) Legal Aid Arrives for Court Backlog

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, a group appointed by
Mayor Nagin to help mend the city’s damaged criminal justice
system, brought in state prosecutors from other communities to help
clear a backlog of cases awaiting action. The city ’s indigent defender
program has fewer than half the number of attorneys it had before
the storm and its budget, which was funded largely by traffic fines
and fees, is much lower. The Criminal Justice Coordinating
committee is chaired by former state attorney general Richard
Ieyoub. It is also working on an improved subpoena system and the
reopening of jail and court facilities. The city council has scheduled a
crime summit for Sept. 16 to devise a strategy for fighting crime in
New Orleans.

3) Bayou State Tops for Film Crews

Louisiana is the top state outside of California in which to make a
movie, according to the film production trade magazineP3 Production
Update. The magazine used responses from people in the industry to
rank the top states based on financial incentives, growth, cost-ofliving
factors, revenues generated from the film and television
industry in 2005, infrastructure, support services and producers’
overall desire to return. Since 2002, Louisiana has offered
filmmakers tax incentives for films produced in the state. The film
industry generated $640 million during 2005 in Louisiana, compared
with $10 million in the state in 2002 when the program began.
Rounding out the magazine’s list were New Mexico, Florida, New
York, Hawaii, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Utah and Texas.

2) School Bells Ring in Algiers

The first post-Katrina year for New Orleans public school students
began last week with the start of classes at seven schools in Algiers.
All the schools are part of the new Algiers Charter School
Association, which was created in the wake of the storm. The
association began opening schools in December and has a total of
eight charters, which it runs outside the authority of the New Orleans
school board. The association’s eighth school, McDonogh No. 32
elementary school, will reopen on Sept. 18. The association began
classes several weeks before the traditional start of the New Orleans
public school academic year in part to send a message that these
schools will be run differently than in the past and also to give
students more time to prepare for assessments scheduled for March
2007.

1) Group Calls for New Planning Process
The local government watchdog group the Bureau of Governmental
Research (BGR) has issued a call for reforms in the way New
Orleans makes planning and land-use decisions. In a report
requested by the citizen-led Bring New Orleans Back Commission,
the BGR recommends changes to the city charter that would give the
city’s Master Plan the force of law, transfer the power to grant
conditional uses from the City Council to the City Planning
Commission and change the composition of the Planning
Commission to have members appointed by a committee of planners
and neighborhood and business representatives. Other provisions of
the BGR’s proposal are aimed at increasing the role of neighborhood
groups in the planning and land-use decision-making process, such
as creating a Neighborhood Participation Office to help coordinate
such groups. The BGR’s proposed reform program involves
amendments to the city charter that would require approval from
voters, with 2007 the earliest date they could come before voters. In
the meantime, the group has urged the City Council to improve the
planning process by ordinance where it can and to fully staff the
Planning Commission, which lost many of its positions following
Katrina. The BGR says the confusion that has characterized recent
planning efforts is a symptom of the city’s ailing planning process
that has long discouraged outside investment in New Orleans. The
complete report is available online at www.bgr.org.

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

Aug 12, 2006

Source: New Orleans Magazine

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