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THE

Defender Picks

 

Samedi

April 19th

Booksigning with Arita Bohannan

Gallery Burguieres (7 p.m.)

Author reads and signs copies of crime drama ‘Docket 76’  

 

Crescent City Classic

Loyola Ave. and Poydras (8 a.m.)

Annual 10k Ends near City Park 

 

Easter Keg Hunt

NOLA Brewing (1 p.m.)

?Scavenger hunt beginning at the taproom, to benefit Gulf Restoration Network 

 

Gaynielle Neville

Maple Leaf (10:30 p.m.)

CD Release Party  

 

Mystikal

Howlin’ Wolf (9:30 p.m.)

Plus YMCMB Flow, G Unit’s Kidd Kidd, 5th Ward Weebie, and 3D Natee

 

SwampGrease feat. Nigel Hall & Terence Higgins 

Tipitina's (9 p.m.)

Andrew Block, Eric Vogel, Erica Falls, Kendrick Marshall, plus John Lisi and Delta Funk

 

Shoebox Lounge

Shadowbox Theatre (8 p.m.)

Shoes, booze, and prostitutes

 

Earth Day Fest

Armstrong Park (10 a.m.- 7 p.m.)

Green Business Expo, music, and more from La. Bucket Brigade 

 

HUSTLE with DJ Soul Sister

Hi Ho Lounge (11 p.m.- 3 a.m.)

Rare grooves from the '70's every Saturday 

 

Corey Henry's Treme Funktet

Blue Nile (10 p.m.)

Local trombonist and his band play traditional NOLA music, from blues, to jazz, to gospel 

 

Dimanche

April 20th

Gay Easter Parade

Armstrong Park (4:30 p.m.)

Official Gay Easter parade rolls through the French Quarter

 

Goodchildren Easter Parade

Press & St. Claude (1:30 p.m.)

The Social Aide & Pleasure Club throws their annual parade through the Bywater

 

Todd Snider 

Tipitina’s (7:30 p.m.)

Folk-rock and Americana 

 

Joe Krown Trio

Maple Leaf (10:30 p.m.)

Krown, Batiste, and Washington every Sunday 

 

French Quarter Easter Parade

Canal & Bourbon St. (1 p.m.)

Chris Owens leads the charge            

 

Hot 8 Brass Band

Howlin’ Wolf- The Den (10 p.m.)

Premiere NOLA brass with hip-hop, R&B and more 


Toll Dance

Voters Get Say on Whether to Keep Crescent City Connection Tolls



The bell tolls for fees that drivers pay while heading across the Mississippi River into New Orleans on the Crescent City Connection, but a question appearing on Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines ballots could continue the tolls on that stretch of road for another 20 years.

 

Despite the overwhelming support the referendum saw in the State Legislature, opponents of the bill say that any continuation of tolls would be an undue burden and punishment for those who live on the Westbank.

 

Rambling Through Red Stick

Several months and even more floor discussions and committee meetings moved the proposed amendment from conception to ballot (as HB935 became HB1212 and then moved between both houses—twice—and finally signed by the Governor and making Act 865).

 
On the Ballot
"Shall the toll be renewed and collected on the Crescent City Connection Bridge at the rate provided by law beginning on January 1, 2013, and ending on December 31, 2033, with the toll revenue dedicated solely for the following purposes along U.S. 90Z from Interstate 10 to U.S. 90: operations, maintenance, landscaping, grass cutting, trash pickup, functional and ornamental lighting, police functions, inspections, motorist assistance patrols, and capital projects on the bridges, approaches, and roadways and with further authorization for such tolls to be funded into revenue bonds for any one or more capital projects?”

 

The 20-plus page document passed by both houses of the legislature with an overwhelming majority the first time through, but when it made its way back, the House rejected the Senate’s amendments—which included limiting the vote to Jefferson and Orleans.

 

Following that rejection, a joint committee of House and Senate members convened and agreed that most of the other amendments—including how to allocate remaining fund balances in any of the created accounts with CCCB toll revenue and a list of DOTD projects that the money could potentially go to with approval—were acceptable. The only one outright rejected by the committee was the exclusion of Plaquemines from the vote. Following the committee’s report, the final signed version that made its way up the chain passed with far more than the two-thirds majority required for placing an amendment on the ballot (House voted 85-17 and then the senate passed with a vote of 39-0).

 

“1212 absolutely gives the right to the voters in this area of the CCC Bridge to continue the tolls, if they so choose,” said Rep. Karen Gaudet St. Germain (D-60) who chairs the transportation committee and originally submitted the bill. “With the amendments coming up, it gets a lot more specific. It makes sure that DOTD only expends those tolls on the maintenance, operations and inspections of that specific span, which is described in this bill.”

 

READ: Second Amendment Question Could Give La. Nation's Strongest Gun Laws

 

20 More Years?

The new law would lock in the current rates of twenty cents ($0.20) per axle for vehicles with a toll tag and fifty cents ($0.50) for all cash transactions for the next 20-years. That means drivers without a tag will still be charged $1.00. Those fees generate about $22 million per year in revenue.

 

The legislation also goes into much greater detail on just how the monies will be collected and it delineates a potential order of how the money will be spent, along with oversights for that process. At least $10 million of the collected toll money will be put into a fund to directly assist in operating and all other projects regarding the two bridges. After that, the money goes to separate funds, controlled by the treasurer in the same manner as all other state funds, according to the bill.

 

The other chief difference is that none of the money collected would go to funding the ferries, which representatives say that the DOTD is seeking to privatize, rather than funneling money from toll payers on the bridge to ferry boats. Rep. Patrick Connick (who represents the 84th District in Jefferson), specifically spoke to this point, saying he could not vote for a bill that would allow that practice to continue.

 

“In the past, the money collected from toll payers was going all over the state. Does this prevent that from happening?” Connick asked Rep. St. Germain when she presented the revised version of the bill before the legislature.

 

To which St. Germain responded: “Absolutely. We will not let the sins of the past come back.”

 

The law would also add some oversight measures for the collected funds, including mandatory reports by the DOTD and by Legislative Auditors with-in the first year of operation following the amendments implementation.

 

However, the measure still has opponents.

 

At a news conference held on Tuesday, October 30 in Algiers, members of community businesses—mostly from the Westbank—opposing the referendum said that the move would constitute, “an unfair tax on the Westbank.”

 

The tolls would remain in effect until the sunset date in 2033, and at nearly $21 million in revenues averaged a year, that would be some $40 million. With such a huge chunk of change, opposition cites that there has been little to no oversight over the last 13 years. And though new measures have been included in the proposed legislation, there were measures in the last law passed in 1998, but they were never implemented.

 

Members of the legislature acknowledged this problem as well during their own debates.

 

“We create laws in these green books every year, but the truth is DOTD has never followed the law when it comes to the Crescent City Connection Bridge,” Rep. Connick said. “DOTD has failed us. They have to look inside themselves and change.”

 

Not all Algiers power brokers are opposed to the tolls. City Councilwomen Jackie Clarkson and Kristin Gisleson-Palmer have been publicly throwing their support behind continuing the tolls, arguing that the tolls are necessary to further economic development in the area. Mayor Mitch has also come out in favor of keeping the tolls.

 

But in the end, most legislators agree that it is for the people who actually pay to decide if the measures should be continued or abandoned.

 

“I think the people who pay the tolls deserve to say either they want them or they don’t,” Jefferson Parish elected Rep. Bryan Adams (R-85).

 

The vote for the tolls hits the polls November 6.

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Contributors:

Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Mary Kilpatrick, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner, Chris Staudinger, Kailyn Davillier, Chef Anthony Scanio, Tierney Monaghan, Stacy Coco, Rob Ingraham

Staff Writers

Kerem Ozkan, Cheryl Castjohn, Sam Nelson

Listings

Elisabeth Morgan

Art Listings

Cheryl Castjohn

Photographers

Brandon Robert, Daniel Paschall

Puzzler

Paolo Roy

Art Director:

Michael Weber, B.A.

Deputy Managing Editor

M.D. Dupuy

Managing Editor

Stephen Babcock

Editor:

B. E. Mintz

Published Daily by

Minced Media, Inc.