In The News › Mayor’s 1st veto bears no ill will

Jul 3, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

Mayor’s 1st veto bears no ill will

Guidry asked him to kill WYES item

Saturday, July 03, 2010
By Bruce Eggler
The Times-Picayune

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had been in office for more than a year before he issued his first veto of a City Council ordinance. It took new Mayor Mitch Landrieu less than two months.

The two vetoes were alike in one way: They involved matters of relatively little consequence. The latest one, however, had one highly unusual aspect to it: The council itself asked Landrieu to issue it.

The ordinance involved extending WYES’ lease for city-owned land at 916 Navarre Ave., where the public television station wants to rebuild its studios.

The measure was introduced by Councilwoman Susan Guidry, whose district includes the site, and passed without controversy on June 17. But before Landrieu could sign it, Guidry asked him to veto it.

She said officials need more time to review the lease to make sure “the city’s fiscal interests are reflected in the ongoing negotiations,” particularly as regards for-profit activities by WYES.

So the council voted 7-0 to sustain Landrieu’s veto, the same result as with Nagin’s first veto in June 2003, though in that case the council had not sought to have an ordinance overturned.

That action involved an attempt by Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson to make sure she was “in the loop” before the Department of Public Works issued a permit authorizing the temporary closure of a street in her district for noncommercial purposes, such as a street fair.

The ordinance required the department to get approval from the district council member before issuing such a permit. Nagin vetoed it, saying approving street closures is not a legislative function.

Clarkson said she was surprised by the veto but wouldn’t fight it. At her request, the council voted 7-0 to sustain Nagin’s action.

A few years later, Nagin’s vetoes became more frequent and involved weightier matters, such as the city’s annual budget.

In other actions at Thursday’s meeting, all by unanimous votes, the council:

Endorsed a request by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East’s Coastal Advisory Committee that the Coast Guard approve and pay for two coastal projects to help keep oil off Orleans Parish shores. In each case, officials hope the bill ultimately will be passed on to BP, whose collapsed rig is spewing the oil into the Gulf.

One project, estimated to cost $15 million, involves planting vegetation and constructing five miles of shoreline protection along the Alligator Bend area on the northern shore of Lake Borgne. The other, estimated at $22 million, involves protecting five to seven miles of the southern shore of Lake Borgne in the Biloxi Marsh area.

Called on the state to start fulfilling its legal obligation to reimburse local governments for money they lose in property tax revenue because of the homestead exemption. A recent report by the Bureau of Governmental Research pointed out that under a little-known provision in the state Constitution, the state is supposed to reimburse parishes and cities for money lost because of the exemption, but in 2009, the state provided only $90 million for that purpose — just 12.5 percent of the $716 million lost statewide.

In 2009, the bureau said, Orleans Parish received just 11 percent of the $55 million in tax revenue it lost because of the exemption, which makes the first $75,000 of the value of owner-occupied homes exempt from most property taxes.

Council President Arnie Fielkow, author of the resolution asking the state to provide the full amount lost, admitted that with the state’s finances as bad as the city’s, the measure is likely to have little short-term effect.

Approved changing the name of the 2150-2199 and 2200-2399 blocks of Hendee Street in Algiers to West Bank Expressway Service Road. During recent construction in the former Fischer public housing complex area, those blocks were inadvertently given the same numbers as existing addresses on Hendee.

Officials decided that changing the street name would be the easiest way to solve the problem, which caused confusion for personnel responding to emergencies.
The new name matches the street’s name on the Jefferson Parish side of the parish line.

Jul 3, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

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