I attended the meeting of the New Orleans City Council on Thursday, October 10. It was very easy to ﬁnd a schedule of all meetings available by searching New Orleans City Council online and navigating to the webpage. The council webpage has a great variety of resources on their webpage including, but not limited to, introductory biographies on the council members as well as what committees they serve on for the council and related news for those members’ districts and projects.
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There is also a calendar that lists all meetings and includes the public notices, proposed agenda and other pertinent information on each meeting (please note that these three links are for the information related to the meeting that I attended). I found this especially helpful when planning which meeting I would attend.
There are also district maps showing boundaries of each district as well as the voting wards included in each and points of interest included in each district. I would encourage anyone who has never visited the New Orleans City Council webpage to spend some tome clicking around and becoming familiar with all of the resources included in this website.
One of the most valuable tools on this page may be the video link where live streaming video can be found as well as archived footage. It seems that most all of the open meetings are taped and made available online through this website which anyone can access at anytime. Once I looked at the upcoming meeting options and compared that with my work calendar I chose the Thursday 10/10 meeting since it was scheduled to start at 10:30am. I went to work as usual and took an early, long lunch and walked over to the city council chambers.
There was a very small handful of people in the audience, 25 at most, though about 15 more people did trickle in after I arrived. The meeting started just about on time, maybe a few minutes late according to my watch, and began with a roll call followed by prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and
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singing of the National Anthem. The ﬁrst section of the agenda was less business of the council and more presentations from community members. There was a presentation from Project Lazarus and the work that organization does to support individuals with HIV/AIDS. Kristin Palmer took a “moment of personal privilege” to honor community activist Reggie Lawson, who is currently battling cancer.
After this was a presentation by representatives of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, everyone was given a copy of their New Orleans Index at Eight report. A presentation from the NOPD and Fraternal Order of Police after a request for a “moment of personal privilege” this time by Jackie Clarkson followed that included a tribute to fallen Ofﬁcer Rodney Thomas and a posthumous award given to his widow. I really wish that these personal privilege items had been on the agenda or advertised publicly so that the community could be present for the presentations to Reggie Lawson and Ofﬁcer Thomas’ widow. At this point I had been here for an hour and stepped outside to call my co-workers and let them know that I would be just a while longer, when I returned a list of communication received was bring read aloud. Some of these communications were from the public and some from the council members themselves.
When I leaned over to the person sitting a few seats away from me and asked what the consent agenda is as compared to the regular agenda she said that the consent agenda is either things that are being deferred to committees or things that committees have already voted on that are just being put onto the the record and the regular agenda items need votes by the full council. This part of the meeting took the longest and was clearly not interesting to the council members who were talking to one another, looking at other materials and even getting up and walking out for short periods of time. Most of the people in the audience left at this point as did I after another half hour. I think it would be interesting to attend some of the committee meetings so that I can better understand how the consent agenda items come to be and how much public input is allowed in these decisions.See More on City council