Corps' drainage project may have hurt drainage, and other area political news

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Corps' drainage project may have hurt drainage

Corps' drainage project may have hurt drainage

In the process of building a massive drainage project Uptown, crews working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may have partially blocked some catch basins on Napoleon Avenue, city officials said last week.

The project, known as the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, is intended to improve the city’s ability to handle heavy rains. But in the course of the project, some of the catch basins were partially covered with asphalt, hampering their ability to contribute to the drainage system, interim Public Works Director Dani Galloway told the City Council.

Problems with clogged catch basins and drains have been among the topics drawing intense public attention since the Aug. 5 flood in several New Orleans neighborhoods. 

A spokesperson for the Corps said the agency is looking into the issue to determine how many catch basins were affected and who would be responsible for fixing them.

Getting the Corps to pay to fix the problem may be difficult because the city has already signed off on the work, attesting that it was done properly.

But Councilman Jason Williams said the city should push to ensure the Corps fixes the problem, getting the city’s congressional delegation involved if necessary.

“It would be a whole lot more cost-effective to have them come back and finish a job the right way than to have FEMA pay for damage to people’s homes” if there’s a flood, Williams said.

Mayoral candidates no fans of panhandlers

A Friday mayoral debate hosted by the New Orleans Rotary Club touched on one issue that hasn’t been discussed in other forums: the large number of homeless people and panhandlers in the city.

The three candidates who showed up at the lunchtime debate offered varying proposals on the topic, though all said they want to reduce the number of panhandlers.

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell focused on her work to establish a low-barrier homeless shelter, something she said could reduce the number of homeless on the city’s streets. At the same time, she argued for stricter enforcement of city laws as well.

“It is illegal to be intoxicated and sleeping on the streets in New Orleans, and we have to enforce it like other cities do,” she said.

Businessman Troy Henry took a harsher approach. “I’m not a fan of these panhandlers; they won’t exist in my administration,” Henry said. “We’re going to get them help, we’re going to get them housing or we’re going to get them a bus ticket.”

Former Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris took a similar approach, arguing in favor of “rounding up” the city’s homeless and having the coroner evaluate each of them. Those suffering from mental health or drug addiction would then be sent to a treatment center, Bagneris said.

Former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet was also invited to the forum but did not attend.

Martiny wins prized alliance endorsement

The Jefferson Parish chapter of the Alliance for Good Government threw its coveted support last week behind state Sen. Danny Martiny in the race for Jefferson Parish Council District 4.

The endorsement came after a 45-minute debate during which Martiny and Kenner City Councilman Dominick Impastato traded jabs over who is more likely to heal the rift dividing the Parish Council.

The seven-member council is widely seen as split between two factions, each of which needs the District 4 seat to give it the fourth, and deciding, vote.

Martiny played up his experience in the Legislature where, he said, he was unafraid to tackle thorny problems and to reach across the aisle.

"People come to me with tough issues because they know I can put people together," he said, noting that he has served as a floor leader under both Republican and Democratic governors. "There are problems on the council that need to be resolved, and I am the one to do it."

Impastato, who was first elected to the Kenner City Council in 2014, emphasized his relative newcomer status and said it offers him a fresh perspective.

"I'm a ballpark guy," he said, saying he has coached more than 1,000 kids in local athletic leagues. "My platform is bringing community into government."

Impastato denied that he is running as a supporter of embattled Parish President Mike Yenni.

"I am the only candidate in the race that publicly stood up and called for his resignation," Impastato said, referring to the scandal over Yenni's communications with a teenage boy. He acknowledged, however, that Yenni is a friend. "I have had some tough conversations with him about that," he said.

For his part, Martiny denied that he is intractably aligned with Councilman Chris Roberts and recently resigned Sheriff Newell Normand.

"Chris Roberts has no role in my campaign," Martiny said, adding that now that Normand is no longer sheriff, he's not a factor. "I can work with anybody I don't agree with," he said, promising to reach out to every council member.

The election is Oct. 14.

Compiled by Jeff Adelson and Faimon A. Roberts III

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Article Corps' drainage project may have hurt drainage, and other area political news compiled by www.theadvocate.com

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