In The News › New Orleans Recreation Department proposal has advocacy groups at odds

Sep 18, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Governance, Orleans Parish

New Orleans Recreation Department proposal has advocacy groups at odds

Saturday, September 18, 2010
By Frank Donze
The Times-Picayune

Two well-known organizations this week took positions — one for and one against — on the Oct. 2 ballot proposition to transfer control of the city’s recreation programs to a new public-private partnership.

The Bureau of Governmental Research endorsed the proposed City Charter amendment, but the local chapter of the NAACP gave it a thumbs-down.

The BGR, a nonpartisan research organization, said in an analysis that the mayor, who appoints the Recreation Department’s director, could enact recreation reforms without a new commission. But it noted that proponents of the change contend that an independent panel of citizen appointees offers a way to sustain reforms beyond the tenure of any one City Hall administration.

The amendment would replace NORD, a city department, with a 13-member public-private commission that would get city money but also would seek major private support through a new foundation. The commission would hire an executive director.

“The proposed recreation commission would provide more stable long-term direction for the city’s recreation offerings,” the BGR report said. “This would allow much-needed reforms to take hold and be sustained. It would also facilitate private fundraising.”

While the city still must address NORD’s chronic lack of money, the report said, voters “should take the first step by creating the basic vehicle for delivering future reforms.”

On Wednesday, the local head of the NAACP came out against the NORD proposal, saying it lacks details and guidelines. Chapter President Danatus King said: “The proposition doesn’t speak about how management is going to be improved.”

He said the proposed commission “could result in another agency like the problem-plagued Public Belt Railroad Commission.” Like the railroad commission, he said, the NORD commission “would not be directly answerable to the public or any elected official.”

City Council President Arnie Fielkow, a driving force behind the proposed charter change, quickly took issue with King’s statements. “There is no comparison between the new recreation system being proposed and the Public Belt Railroad,” Fielkow said. “These are oranges to apples (comparisons) in the largest degree possible.”

Sep 18, 2010

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Governance, Orleans Parish

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