NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An agreement Monday has resolved a lawsuit over plans by the city of New Orleans to enforce a "clean zone" where the use of banners, signs and flags would be restricted during Super Bowl week.
The agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, would allow the city to enforce some limits on commercial activity in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods. The filing says the city can prohibit "off-site and mobile advertising," such as signs attached to a vehicle or worn by a person.
However, American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana's Executive Director Marjorie Esman said the city has agreed not to restrict other forms of commercial or non-commercial speech in the "clean zone." She said local businesses, for instance, will be free to hang signs advertising their wares.
The ACLU sued the city last Thursday on behalf of an activist and a street preacher. They claimed the "clean zone" limits, spelled out in a new city ordinance and a code enforcement guide, would trample on their free speech rights and limit their activities leading up to the title game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
"The city has essentially eliminated all of the problems with the original drafting" of the ordinance and guide, Esman said of the settlement Monday.
Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt issued a temporary restraining order that said the city can only enforce the limits in an area near the Superdome, where the game will be played Feb. 3. The ACLU and city on Monday asked the judge to dissolve that order.
Esman says other Super Bowl host cities have enforced similar rules in recent years at the NFL's request, but they had never been challenged in court before.
The new measures took effect Monday and are scheduled to end on the evening of Feb. 5. The city said the settlement clarifies that the "clean zone" is not intended to affect non-commercial speech.
"The clean zone addresses issues such as certain types of signage, outdoor vending and erecting structures and tents that the city already permits," the city said in statement. "It is an additional temporary designation that seeks to protect the quality of life for residents and assists businesses in thriving during the Super Bowl."
The ordinance, passed last month, said that the content of any temporary signs approved by the city must consist of at least 60 percent Super Bowl or NFL branding. But the settlement bars the city from enforcing that provision.
The city, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas were named as defendants in the suit. The plaintiffs are Tara Jill Ciccarone, an Occupy NOLA member, and Troy Bohn, pastor of a religious congregation that regularly preaches on Bourbon Street.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.