Landrieu takes on Algiers rezoning, public defenders at town hall meeting

Published: Jul. 15, 2015 at 2:12 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 15, 2015 at 3:02 AM CDT
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ALGIERS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor Mitch Landrieu took on residents and the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office at Tuesday's town hall meeting in District C.

Dozens of residents who feel their riverfront view is for sale showed up to criticize a proposal to put hotels and high-rises along the riverfront in Algiers.

"We want progress in the community but not at the expense of destroying the community and not allowing the community access to the river," Algiers resident Beryl Ragas said.

"With the CZO, the Algiers Point Association requested a 40-foot height maximum riverfront development in our neighborhood," Algiers Point Association Vice President Mike Verderosa said. "Why, Councilmember [Nadine] Ramsey, did you vote for height allowances that could reach up to 110 feet?"

Landrieu and Ramsey, who represents District C, stood firm with the proposed construction and rezoning, saying it is part of the city's master plan.

"The most valuable piece of real estate is right by the water," Landrieu said.

As the city plans to grow along the water, the mayor told those concerned about losing their riverfront view to accept progress.

"What's not going to happen is everybody that is there now can't say well nobody else can live in this neighborhood so I don't want anymore building because I'm close to river, and I gots mine, and nobody else can have theirs," the mayor said.  
At the meeting, Landrieu also battled the Orleans Public Defenders Office. Attorneys told the crowd how they represent 85 percent of the cases in New Orleans but only get a third of the district attorney's budget. Representatives also argued that their office needs to hire 33 more lawyers to meet requirements.

"We're facing a $1 million shortfall," public defender Amanda Frazier said. "To dismiss OPD's budget shortfall as solely a state issue is a mistake because the city sets policy on criminal justice policies issues that affect New Orleans."

Landrieu stopped Frazier during her speech, arguing the city gave public defenders $1.5 million, and he said it was the state that diminished public defenders' funds.

"That's only partly true, because the state just cut your budget by $750,000," Landrieu said. "You have to state the facts, and the state cut your budget. We know that we have a role, but you can't say this administration and these guys have not given you a substantial amount of money. It's clearly not as much as you want."

The next city budget meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Kipp Central Academy on Third Street.

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