Board meeting minutes – Aug. 14th

Attending–Board:   Marilyn Barbera, Kevin Brown, Betty DiMarco, Tilman Hardy, Todd Leavitt, Julianna Padgett, Jerry Speir, Jim Stratton,

Absent Board Members:  Pax Bobrow, Gordon Cagnolatti, Rudolf Garrison, Rodney Dionisio, Marshall Hevron, Judith Miranti, Gary Smith, Amanda Smithson, Llewelyn Soniat, Betsy Weymann,

Residents/Guests: Lyn Adams, Annette Bak, Cindy Morse, Anne Nicolay, Robbie Robertson, Seth Siegel
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“How Safe, How Soon?”—Seth Siegel explained that this project is working with three disparate communities (Carrollton/Hollygrove, Lower Ninth Ward, and the United Houma Nation in the Raceland area) to address the reality that major hurricane protection will not be in place for at least decades.  So, what can neighborhoods and individuals do in the interim to become more resilient?  The project will look at a broad array of issues: preparedness, evacuation/return, and the overall policy issues associated with decisions on levees and coastal restoration.  The project is expected to take a year to complete.  Mark Davis, Director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy (who lives in the neighborhood) and Paul Harrison (of Environmental Defense in D.C.) are the principals on the project.  Jerry Speir and Paul Baricos (Hollygrove CDC) are advisors to the project for our part of town.  We expect further meetings in the neighborhood on these issues.

Treasurer’s Report – Cindy Morse reported a bank balance of $1935.69.

Crime—Todd Leavitt, Tilman Hardy and Betty DiMarco reported on the Crime Committee’s meeting of August 13.  Of primary concern at the moment are two recent incidents involving shots fired from automobiles.  On Saturday, August 2, shots were fired from a vehicle at individuals at a house in the 1300 block of Joliet.  The victims say they did not know the shooters.  On Wednesday, August 6, two cars speeding through the neighborhood in the Dante/Green area were shooting at each other.  Both incidents happened about dusk.  Particularly problematic was the delayed police response to the latter incident (and the disjointed follow-up).  Also, the police now say that they received no 911 report of the incident—though multiple neighbors report calling 911.  Todd Leavitt and Alice-Ann Krishnan, Crime Committee chair, are pulling together a report from immediate neighbors to be presented at the next NONPACC with NOPD (Tuesday, August 19, 7:00 p.m. at Touro Hospital, 2d floor).
This discussion also provoked comments about the importance of the upcoming District Attorney’s race—and questions about whether we should host a forum for DA candidates.  Betty DiMarco, Kevin Brown and Jerry Speir agreed to make inquiries about the feasibility of such a forum.
On a related matter, the group opposed the idea of allowing the CRNA e-mail list to be used to announce meet-and-greet parties for individual candidates.

Education Committee—Cindy Morse reported that Target has made a grant to Johnson School to enhance its library and to make it more available after-hours as a community resource.  There will be a “work day” on Friday, September 19, to help with the library and other projects related to the school’s theme for the year, “Johnson Goes Green and Grows Character.”  Details to come.  We will need volunteers for that event.

Annette Bak reported that the Priestley School for Architecture and Construction has been moved (yet again) to the 2900 block of Palmyra—where it is forced to share space with the “P.M. School,” an after hours school for students who are not able to attend at regular hours.  The two schools exceed the capacity of the building.  The Priestley board has had a problem getting straight answers from the School Board and other school officials as to both the future of the existing school (the students and teachers) and the old building on Leonidas.
Several board members expressed a need to bring pressure on the appropriate individuals and agencies to resolve this untenable situation.  One wondered if a “class action lawsuit” might be possible, against the school board and/or the city, for “ruining our neighborhood and adversely affecting property values” by their neglect of the school.
Mary Green is putting together a Priestley alumni group and our Education
Committee will work with them to try to help resolve these problems.  Jerry Speir will be in touch with Priestley board president Chris D’Amour to help define appropriate assistance that CRNA can offer.

Kevin Brown noted that there are AmeriCorps positions available for individuals interested in tutoring in local schools.  The jobs carry a modest stipend and are usually taken by college students or retired persons.  Anyone interested can contact Kevin at Kevin@tccno.org

Events—Cindy Morse reported that she and Amanda Smithson are working toward a general membership meeting/picnic – tentatively for September 13.

Zoning/Land Use—Jerry Speir reported that the Saltwater Grill is moving to the space formerly occupied by Chef’s Corner in the Riverbend and is interested in signing an Agreement with CRNA like the one signed with Chef’s Corner, limiting the transferability of the liquor license.  Kevin Brown moved, seconded by Betty DiMarco, to offer them the same agreement as that signed with Chef’s Corner.  Passed unanimously.

Questions were raised about blighted properties and how to address them.  Jerry noted that there will be a BGR breakfast on this topic on Wednesday, August 27, and individuals can attend by signing up at http://www.bgr.org

Board Vacancy—Jerry noted that Nicole Bouie had agreed, subsequent to the discussion at the July meeting, to accept our invitation to join the board.  Discussion followed on filling the remaining vacancy on the board.  The group agreed that we are in no rush to fill the vacancy, that we should make the vacancy known at the general meeting in September, and seek nominations (including self-nominations) from the general membership.  Tilman Hardy suggested that we might delay filling the position until we can have further discussions about what we need in a board, our goals for the future, etc—perhaps at a meeting that we could ask the Neighborhood Partnership Network to facilitate.

HUD complaint—Jerry informed the group that CRNA has been named, along with the city of New Orleans, CPC Director Yolanda Rodriguez, and all members of the Board of Zoning Adjustments in a discrimination complaint filed by Brad Robinson over his effort to build larger houses (with no parking) than allowed by the zoning ordinance in the 8600 block of Zimpel.  Jim Logan, attorney for the neighbors and CRNA, is dealing with the matter, and Jerry has written a response to HUD.  We believe the claim to be totally baseless.  (Robinson specifically claims that we have colluded with the city to deny Section 8 housing in the neighborhood.)

Citizen Participation Program (CPP)—Julianna Padgett reported that the CPP is moving forward and that there will be a meeting at 6:00 on Monday, August 18, to bring together all the committees that were formed after the recent Summit.  The meeting will be at 3500 Canal, 2d floor.

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