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THE

Defender Picks

 

SAMEDI

July 22nd

Ice Cream Social

Longue Vue, 10AM

Plus adoptable pets from the SPCA

 

Veggie Growing Basics

Hollygrove Market, 1PM

Grow your own food

 

National Hot Dog Day

Dat Dog, 3PM

Raffles, ice cream and more

 

Cocktails and Queens

Piscobar, 6PM

A queer industry dance party

 

Immersive Sound Bath

Nola Yoga Loft, 7PM

Soothing 3D Soundscapes

 

Paul Mooney

Jazz Market, 8PM

Also ft. music by Caren Green

 

New Orleans Beatles Festival

House of Blues, 8PM

Come together, right now

 

Christmas in July

The Willow, 8PM

Ugly sweaters and peppermint shots

 

HOUxNOLA

Three Keys, 9PM

With Coolasty ft. Jack Freeman and more

 

Particle Devotion

Banks St Bar, 9PM

Ft. Paper Bison +  Tranche

 

Cesar Comanche

Art Klub, 9:30PM

Ft. Ghost Dog, Knox Ketchum and more

 

Gimme A Reason

Poor Boy’s Bar, 10PM

Ft. Savile and local support

 

Techno Club

Techno Club, 10PM

Ft. Javier Drada, Eria Lauren, Otto

 

DIMANCHE

July 23rd

From Here to Eternity

Prytania Theatre, 10AM

The 1953 classic

 

Eight Flavors

Longue Vue, 12PM

Sarah Lohman will discuss her new book

 

Book Swap

Church Alley Coffee Bar, 12PM

Bring books, get books

 

Urban Composting

Hollygrove Market, 1PM

Learn about easy composting

 

Brave New World Book Club

Tubby & Coo’s, 2PM

Open to all

 

Gentleman Loser

The Drifter Hotel, 3PM

A classic poolside rager

 

Mixology 101

Carrolton Market

With Dusty Mars

 

Freret Street Block Party

Freret St, 5PM

A celebratory bar crawl

 

Mushroom Head

Southport Music Hall, 6PM

+ Hail Sagan and American Grim

 

Glen David Andrews

Little Gem Saloon, 8PM

Get trombone’d by the greatest

 

Hot 8 Brass Band

The Howlin Wolf, 10PM

Brass music for a new era

 

Church*

The Dragon’s Den, 10PM

Ft. KTRL, Unicorn Fukr, RMonic


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

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

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