BlightStat Revisited

by Charlie London
I took a new job about six months ago that no longer allows me to attend the BlightStat meetings on a regular basis as I once did. It was great to see the movers-and-shakers again today that keep fighting blight in our city.

The folks pictured above are the unsung heroes that, like you,
are passionate about moving New Orleans forward.

The Code Enforcement Department continues to lead the pack with over 1,000 inspections each month. The new land asset management application is far superior to the old computer system. The Code Enforcement Department was heralded for their continued vigilance in the fight against blight.

The Technology Department noted that while the virtual private network used by the inspectors is not providing the service expected, one of the features negotiated for the current technology contract allows for unlimited technical support. The problem is being worked on as you read this.

If you haven’t taken the time to check out … you should. Surf around and you’ll be amazed at the information you’ll find. The City of New Orleans Technology Department is working hard to dispel any misconceptions that New Orleans might be behind the times.

The Law Department also uses the land management asset application.


The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority has a new lot next door program which will be released soon. Expect a press release from the City soon! NORA will be using online expressions of interest in properties for the new lot next door program. Those expressions of interest will be collected this May through August. The program will soon be available at Properties will be sold at market value from September through December of this year.

The BlightStat team continues raise expectations and lead the nation in an idea that was developed right here in New Orleans. The results of their efforts will be felt for generations to come as New Orleans rises once again to become the “Queen of the South”.

Keep the faith… you’ll see.

April 12, 2013

NORA releases list of properties for expanded Lot Next Door Program

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and City Council is pleased to announce the release of the list of properties for the amended Lot Next Door Ordinance. The City Council adopted Ordinance 29,397 on February 21 and the Mayor signed it into law on February 25, 2013.

Beginning today, NORA will publish the list of available properties in The Times-Picayune. The list is also available on NORA’s website and at, the City’s official data catalog.

Eligible Lot Next Door buyers MUST notify NORA of its intent to purchase a Lot Next Door property by completing an Expression of Interest (EOI) form. The EOI form will be available on NORA’s website beginning May 1, 2013 until August 1, 2013. The deadline to complete an expression of interest (EOI) form is August 1, 2013. Submitting an expression of interest does not guarantee a purchase.

In order to be considered for the Lot Next Door Program you must share a common boundary to an eligible Lot Next Door Property and meet all other eligibility requirements. For more information regarding qualifications and eligibility please visit NORA’s website and click on the Lot Next Door tab or contact the Lot Next Door Program Office at 504.658.4422.


The New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to authorize demolition of several dozen blighted and dilapidated buildings throughout the city owned by the Housing Authority of New Orleans. The list includes properties in all five council districts.

HANO had requested permission to demolish all the buildings.

Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell originally filed a motion to allow demolition of several properties in District D, but other members then asked to add HANO properties in their districts as well — “hitching our wagons to yours,” as council President Stacy Head told Hedge-Morrell.

The final list comprises:

District A: 1715, 1723, 1727 and 1735 Cambronne St.; 1738-40 Gen. Ogden St.; 2115-17 St. Ann St.; and 8718-20 Willow St.

District B: 2331-33 Annunciation St.; 1421-23-25 and 5312 Constance St.; and 2118-20-22 Danneel St.

District C: 1815-21 Ptolemy St.; 1500-14, 1508-14, 1524-30 and 1532-38 Hendee St.; 1814-20 Lawrence St.; 717 De Armas St.; 2427 Ursulines Ave.; 1916 Roman St.; 1927 Mandeville St.; 2522 N. Rampart St.; 1814-20 Bayou Road; 2023 N. Robertson St.; 1319 Montegut St.; 600, 601, 615, 616-20 and 621 France St.; 4100-14 and 4200 Royal St.; 1112 N. Rocheblave St.; and 4319 Chartres St.

District D: 2500, 2501, 2524, 2525, 2600, 2601, 2624 and 2625 Bartholomew St.; 2123-29 Painters St.; and 3013 Mandeville St.

District E: 1501-03, 1505-07, 1509-11 and 1515 Benton St. and 4727 Ray Ave.

1264 Moss

Approval for the demolition of the structure at 1264 Moss Street was obtained in April, 2011. On May 9, 2011, the owner received setback waivers. Demolition of the structure at 1264 Moss Street in New Orleans began September 20, 2012. The owner plans to rebuild essentially the same structure that was there before. The video shows “before” photos, the NCDC hearing then “after” photos.

Photo taken September 20, 2012

Photos taken September 24, 2012

City Touts Progress in Fight Against Blight

article by Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans | photo by Charlie London

New Orleans received exciting news this week in the fight against blight in our city.

As of March 2012, there are an estimated 35,700 blighted homes and empty lots in New Orleans, down from 43,755 in September 2010, as indicated by United States Postal Service (USPS) data. This means the city of New Orleans is no longer the most blighted city in America. According to The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, the continued reduction in blight since 2010 is attributable to a strong economy and ongoing population growth complemented by the focused efforts of City agencies to bring properties into compliance.

You can read the entire report at

Nearly two years ago, our administration announced a new,
aggressive blight strategy aimed at reducing blighted properties by
10,000 by 2014. Since then, our tracking indicates 4,930 properties
have been remediated through our effort. These new numbers validate
that we are well on our way to achieving our goal.
Keep up with our progress through BlightSTAT. Click here for
more information on BlightSTAT meetings

Mitchell J. Landrieu
City of New Orleans


Drop in New Orleans blight marks significant progress: Editorial

Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 7:02 AM
By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

New Orleans no longer tops the nation’s list of most blighted
cities, and though that’s not nearly enough to declare this chronic
problem solved, it shows we’re making tremendous progress.
The Greater New Orleans Data Center, in an analysis using U.S.
Postal Service data, estimated that 8,000 properties in the city
were repaired or rebuilt between September 2010 and March 2011. For
any urban area, that’s a significant bite off blight. Indeed, that
caused New Orleans to drop behind Detroit and Flint, Mich., which
now have a larger percentage of ramshackle or abandoned properties.

Much of the progress came as Mayor Mitch Landrieu launched an
initiative to target this massive problem, and the mayor deserves
credit for making blight reduction a priority in his
administration. Residents who have continued rebuilding their homes
and new residents who have moved into the area in recent years also
deserve credit for the city’s progress.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Mayor Landrieu set a goal of
eliminating 10,000 of the city’s then-43,755 blighted properties by
the end of 2013. The city then proceeded to demolish almost 1,600
properties last year. That was almost three times the number of
buildings demolished in 2010. Many of the demolished properties
included homes that were flooded after Hurricane Katrina and
properties sold to the Road Home program.

At the same time, the city cleared 1,750 lots in 2011, or almost
twice the number it cleared the year before. The Landrieu
administration has also been aggressive in filing writs to seize
properties whose owners have neglected them. As a result of city
efforts, owners brought more than 1,000 properties into voluntary
compliance last year. The city also put some of its surplus
property up for sale, and other public agencies, such as the
Housing Authority of New Orleans, focused on getting rid of their
own blighted property as well.

These are impressive and encouraging results. Decades of neglect
and poverty, aggravated by destruction post-Katrina, left our city
with the country’s highest proportion of dilapidated buildings,
reaching 34 percent in 2008. Progress since then has dropped that
figure to 21 percent, according to the data center’s estimates.

That’s still a very large number. Even excluding vacant units that
are likely habitable, the center estimated that the city still has
close to 36,000 blighted properties. Allyson Plyer, the data
center’s chief demographer, said surveys show residents who have
rebuilt are growing inpatient with blight in their neighborhoods.

That gives Mayor Landrieu support to continue targeting blight
aggressively and help the city improve further in this undesirable

BlightStat Turns 21

It’s Your Right to Fight Blight

This was the twenty first BlightStat meeting to which the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.

Click here to view the City’s 21st public BlightStat presentation.

The legal department had an extended discussion about getting properties to Sherrif Sales. The legal department has been consistent in their efforts to fight blight in New Orleans. Ms. Brenda Breaux has made it clear to her team that consistent efforts will be maintained.

The group discussed marketing efforts for the Sherrif Sales noting that the Preservation Resource Center and neighborhood organizations can be utilized to help promote the events.

Mr. Kopplin suggested that the names of the curators should be known to neighborhoods as citizens are out of patience with those who are not effective.

Mr. Kopplin noted that 1,000 writs have been filed this year. Mr. Granderson and Mr. Gray were touted as the driving force behind getting writs filed so that blighted property can be brought to a Sherrif Sale.

Mr. Hebert said he has heard that some are shocked at how far the city has come in the fight against blight. Mr. Brad Vogel also gave accolades to the City for its efforts toward getting properties up for Sherrif Sale.

Mr. Granderson indicated that he and Mr. Gray have been working diligently on the files sent to them to get them ready for Sherrif Sales.

Mr. Kopplin noted that compliance only works under threat of demolition.

Mr. Granderson indicated that citizens can go to and click on the sales list to see properties coming up for Sherrif sale.
Code Enforcement was represented by a new person that indicated the strategic demolition process is moving along but historical reviews, utility cutoffs and owner objections have slowed some demolitions.

Mr. Kopplin noted that packet delivery does not necessarily equal demolition and quipped that eminent danger works better.

Mr. Wolcott reviewed the FEMA demolitions noting that ten demolitions were done in that last two weeks. He indicated that FEMA’s process is better organized but ten demolitions each bi-weekly period will likely be the norm. Mr. Kopplin indicated that a third of all FEMA demolitions have been denied by NCDC. Mr. Wolcott indicated that only adjudicated properties are submitted to NCDC. Mr. Kopplin asked Mr. Hebert for a list of demolitions denied by NCDC.

Ms. Wilkerson indicated that NORA demolitions are winding down as the money runs out around June, 2012.

Mr. Keith Ferrouillet discussed nuisance abatement which has slowed because the contractor has indicated he is not being paid timely. Mr. Hebert indicated that the process has been explained to the contractor and that the results for this period are unsatisfactory. Mr. Hebert also indicated that payments to the contractor are current. Mr. Wise suggested inviting the contractor to the BlightStat meeting.

Mr. Wise indicated a Yale intern has done some work on performance contracting and this situation would be a good project for the intern to work on.

Mr. Ed Horan discussed the remaining FEMA trailers noting that 16 trailers remain. Mr. Kopplin told Mr. Horan that he wants the status of every FEMA trailer, what the city and code enforcement is doing to finalize this issue. Mr. Kopplin indicated that resets for FEMA hearings needs to end. He noted that the mayor said he would have them out by January and it is eight months beyond the deadline. He threw a benefit out to Mr. Horan stating that he doesn’t have to attend the BlightStat meetings once the FEMA trailers are gone.

Ms. Lear indicated that a big push is on for eradicating litter and bandit signs. She noted that enforcement is going to be tough now after giving out numerous warnings. She noted that any citizen can removed illegal signs and if brought to the Sanitation Department the owner will be called and cited if necessary.

Mr. Kopplin noted that enforcement is the key because like tire dumping, the bad behavior will continue until the perpetrator is cited.

Ms. Lear noted that 10,000 dumped tires have been picked up by the city. She indicated that citizen calls to NOPD have helped some tire dumpers get cited.

Ms. Wilkerson noted that no NORA closings were done this bi-weekly period. She noted that there have been some issues with code enforcement and the permit process. Mr. Kopplin suggested a private meeting between Mr. Horan and Ms. Wilkerson.

Ms. LeGrand from Lakeview indicated that large shipping containers on various properties are an issue in her neighborhood. A discussion ensued on how to remove these. Ms. LeGrand indicated that Safety and Permits has jurisdiction on these large shipping containers.

Answering a question from the audience, Ms. Wilkerson stated that NSP2 is a neighborhood stabilization program run by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). It’s focus is low income and rental properties as well as demolitions. More info at
In an exclusive interview Charlie’s Neighborhood News has learned from a trusted source that the City of New Orleans will be giving Sign Bandits until September 12th to get their act together.

On September 12th the City of New Orleans will begin aggressively fining those who insist on placing signs on public property. To learn more about bandit signs and how you can help fight blight, please visit the link below:
Comment on FACEBOOK by Brad Vogel:
The city is talking about putting approximately 300 properties up for auction at sheriff sales prior to Thanksgiving of this year – that’s a momentous step. Several hundred buildings stand to get a new lease on life instead of being demoli…shed. Initial discussion envisions about 100 properties going to auction on Oct. 18. That date is designed to focus exclusively on city-initiated blight sales. There’s also the Sep. 10 NORA/LLT auction coming up – which will feature about 100 Road Home properties. So get ready to bid this fall. Auctions may not be a panacea for the city’s blight problem, but they’re certainly part of a better way forward.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, September 8, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011 | May 5, 2011 | May 19, 2011| | June 2, 2011 | June 16, 2011 | June 30, 2011 | July 14, 2011 | July 28, 2011 | August 11, 2011 | August 25, 2011

City Gets Report Card

by Brian Denzer

Click here for a PDF of Brian Denzer’s report

2011 NolaStat Progress Report

Progress Report on the Adoption of NolaStat Recommendations:
Findings from a Q&A Meeting with City of New Orleans Officials
May 25, 2011

Why was a meeting with the administration requested?
A year has passed since Mitch Landrieu was inaugurated as Mayor of New Orleans. First Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kopplin was tasked with developing a performance
management system for the City of New Orleans. By request, Deputy Mayor Kopplin solicited a number of experts to brief him and members of his staff with recommendations for the implementation of a
City-wide performance management program. As the founder and director of the NolaStat advocacy project, I, Brian Denzer, was invited by Deputy Mayor Kopplin to three meetings that were held soon
after the inauguration. Subsequent meetings were held with other key city officials.

Since then, few details have been forthcoming to the public that articulate the administration’s overall vision for adopting NolaStat recommendations to improve public access to local government
information, and to institute a performance management policy. It has become clear in the intervening months that ongoing oversight should remain a high priority. The administration has appeared to be more comfortable using the NolaStat brand, than it has in responding to requests for information about what it intends in using the name. This has been disappointing, because there has been no official acceptance by the administration that it would fully adopt the reform recommendations.

The NolaStat reform policy offers a set of recommendations for City Hall that, if properly implemented, hold great promise for New Orleans citizens by improving the quality, efficiency, and equity of city
services through greater accountability and transparency. Because there has been relatively little information or feedback from the administration, and because NolaStat supporters have been asking for
a status update, the time was long overdue for a discussion with Deputy Mayor Kopplin to assess the administration’s progress in adopting NolaStat recommendations. The discussion was necessary to acquire a more complete understanding of where the NolaStat recommendations were in implementation timeline of the administration.

Report overview
The format of the requested meeting was a Q&A with, specifically, Deputy Mayor Kopplin, to discuss the city’s vision and progress with respect to the four key NolaStat reform policy recommendations:
• Improve public access to information by publishing city data on a Web portal.
• Improve government responsiveness to public needs with a regularly-convened performance management process.
• Institutionalize reforms and exercise best practices by creating an office staffed with technical personnel and performance management professionals.
• Close the feedback loop between government and citizens by engaging the community to ensure that performance goals and data needs are satisfactorily being answered.

The finalized May 25th meeting was attended Deputy Mayor Andrew Kopplin, a seasoned Louisiana political executive; Oliver Wise, who serves as the city’s first Director of the Office of Performance and
Accountability (OPA); and Denice Warren-Ross, who was hired into the administration as the city’s interim GIS Manager; and myself, Brian Denzer, creator of the NolaStat reform policy recommendations
and the NolaStat information website. Despite repeated requests of several months, and the fact that this meeting was rescheduled at Deputy Mayor Kopplin’s request, he was only available for about fifteen
minutes of the discussion. Deputy Mayor Kopplin did, nevertheless, respond to a set of follow-up questions.

Following a set of key findings below, the format for this NolaStat progress report presents each of the four NolaStat recommendations accompanied by a set of relevant questions. The responses provided by
Deputy Mayor Kopplin and staff members follows in an answer section. Included in the answer section are findings from research conducted outside of the meeting. Statements evaluating the findings from
discussion and research may be found in the body of the answer section, but those statements should not be attributed to the administration. Evaluative statements are mine alone, but a draft of this
document has circulated among key NolaStat supporters for review and comment. Finally, the administration is given a grade on a standard academic A-F scale, and general comments on the grade follow.

Key findings
1) Administration communications need to improve. Other than Mayor Landrieu, First Deputy Mayor Andrew Kopplin is now the person most responsible for the systems and staffing that could transform City Hall, yet he had been unresponsive to repeated requests to meet over a period of several months.

This lack of communication has made it challenging to assess what Kopplin’s values and vision are for implementing NolaStat recommendations. Many policy directives and results had to be discerned from piecing together evidence found after conducting comprehensive research. Furthermore, many policy decisions in issue areas that are important to quality of life, or to the city’s unique character, have been made without public input or transparency.

2) Especially in important issue areas, when appropriate, hiring decisions for pivotal positions should be made with an opportunity for public input to ensure that community values are reflected in policy
decisions, and with greater transparency to ensure that hires are, in fact, the best that can be found.

3) Greater executive commitment to regular performance management accountability needs to be shown. Without an executive leadership commitment, no amount of money invested in equipment, hardware, software, or a new bureaucracy of analysts, will prevent failure. The administration has plans to implement a number of performance management projects that build upon the generally successful
experience with the new BlightStat initiative. There is a spirit of good intent, yet beyond the Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO) quarterly planning and reporting process, it remains unclear how thoroughly a culture of performance management is being articulated, measured, and reinforced, and whether or not there is strong leadership that recognizes and rewards performance excellence throughout the
bureaucracy of City Hall. Every municipality that has developed a successful performance management model strongly emphasizes that leadership commitment. The regular articulation and reinforcement of
performance management goals is an indispensable component of success.

4) The administration is working toward restoring the internal technical capacity to conduct the city’s day-to-day business. Contractors will only be used for special projects. This should significantly improve
the ability of the city to serve the public efficiently, cost-effectively, and ethically.

5) Civil Service continues to be a barrier to modernization and change, yet it is unclear what specific plans the administration has to reform the system of antiquated job descriptions and ossified human resources management.

6) Even if little visible progress has been accomplished to date, the administration offered an admirable vision for an open data model ( As the city’s IT systems are stabilized after years of neglect, plans are in place to reform the city’s IT systems that support critical business functions, such as accounting, and 311 services. Among the new systems that will be implemented is the Socrata platform for publishing the city’s administrative data.

7) Community engagement on a regular basis to identify administration goals and specific performance indicators needs to improve. BlightStat meetings are open to the public, and feedback from community
members who attend those meetings is solicited. Aside from this example, however, systematic engagement of the community on a regular basis, reporting information and performance trends to
neighborhood associations, for example, or soliciting service desires that may change from one neighborhood to another, doesn’t seem to reflect an intentional vision of community engagement as an
important part of a performance management and reporting strategy.

Recommendation #1: Improve public access to information by publishing city data on a Web portal
1) What is the road map for improving public access to city data? What deadlines are there for releasing data to the public?
2) Have city data systems been inventoried? Are there any reports that have been produced about data systems and data quality?
3) If data systems have been identified for improvement or upgrade, what projects are underway? When will they be completed?
There are no defined deadlines for the release of city data to the public. The general philosophy expressed is that data will follow stat initiatives. For example, citizens who have followed and offered their feedback on the administration’s BlightStat initiative can look forward in the future to a spreadsheet download of blight abatement activities.

Broadly speaking, department business plans will be posted on the city’s website, and citizens can expect department achievements on specific key performance indicators to be reported on a regular basis.

The administration acknowledges that there has been no comprehensive inventory undertaken of the city’s data systems for the purpose of assessing the quality and availability of data for publication. On
the other hand, administration members generally share the philosophy that data should be public.

Specifically, Denice Warren-Ross said that the administration would follow the guiding principles of the Sunlight Foundation’s Ten Principles of Open Government.1 Ross said that the lesson learned over the
last year has been, “we’re figuring this stuff out,” and data systems are “as bad as you can imagine.”

The Sunlight Foundation’s principles of open government are well respected, but they tend toward the mechanics of publishing administrative data in a one-way push of information, and miss the need for a participatory, two-way collaborative model, in which citizen engagement is integrated into a more holistic open government system. In this approach, the government isn’t a one-stop shop providing all
information on the city’s website, but is instead a facilitator of information services, publishing good quality data, facilitating private for-profit or non-profit development of information services that
transform data into knowledge that people can use, and that offer the hope of serving a greater variety of information needs at lower cost to the city. The Knight Foundation, for example, proposes six such
strategies for more open and participatory government:2
1) Convene a working group of chief information and technology leaders to determine more effective technical and operational procedures that mitigate change environments for open government;
2) Create opportunities for developing public goods applications that are sustainable through public-private partnerships or philanthropic investments;
3) Establish more flexible procurement procedures, off-the-shelf purchasing and easier contracting for the technologies used to disseminate government information;
4) Improve broadband access to community anchor institutions;
5) Create government content that is relevant and accessible to all populations regardless of ability, language or literacy level; and
6) Promote public-private partnerships for professional development to enhance skill-building, technical expertise and forward-thinking processes within government.

The BlightStat initiative may be the most instructive example of the administration’s approach to opening up city data to the public. Oliver Wise said, “it’s easier to count what changed than count what’s there.” He expanded that it’s easier for him to count the number of blighted properties that have been disposed of than it is to count the actual number of blighted properties that exist. Therefore, the administration has decided that when it can’t establish specific baseline measures, it will at least measure results. This response is an issue of concern, since one of the goals of an open data policy is for the public to understand how decisions are made, and how those decisions impact life in the city.

The specific indicators for how a property is declared blighted aren’t available to the public. We know what the legal definition of blight is, and we know the process, but in what ways a property has been cited,
and therefore declared blighted, hasn’t been open to the public. This transparency is needed, in particular, when the city’s approach to blight appears to be driven into two options: Sheriff’s sales, or the “atomic bomb” of demolition. If counting what has “changed” is the goal, what specific indicators support a determination made that a property needs to be sold or demolished? When weighing theoption to demolish, what countervailing historic preservation values are brought to bear upon the
decision? These are not trivial questions, but may have important consequences after the administration has achieved its goal of disposing of 10,000 blighted properties.

NolaStat supporters have complained that there is often an unsatisfactory lag in publishing BlightStat reports on the city’s website. When they are published, reports are merely static Powerpoint
presentations that lack actual machine-readable data, and that lack contextual, narrative information which would make them understandable to a broad audience. When actual data is made available, it appears that decisions are based upon the value of personal relationships rather than upon a broad philosophy that all citizens should have equitable access to information. Some progress has been
reported in making data equitably available to every neighborhood. NolaStat supporters have reported that lists of properties that are being auctioned off in sheriff’s sales have been distributed by the Office
of Neighborhood Engagement to every neighborhood association, and are posted on the Civil Sheriff website, although some neighborhood members have issued complaints that lists may not be up to

In the realm of improving public access to crime information, the New Orleans Police Department dropped the contractor from the previous administration who was managing an unusable public-facing
crime-mapping site, which lacked credibility. Instead, the NOPD upgraded to a nationally-respected crime-mapping and reporting platform produced by the Omega Group, a corporate leader in the
business of crime mapping and analysis.3 The site features various query and reporting types, and basic information can be downloaded in a tabular format. The data doesn’t go very far back in time, and this
shortcoming has already been expressed by some NolaStat supporters. Additionally, the public should expect that machine-readable raw crime data will become available in the future – and this can be done
while also protecting victim privacy – in order to ensure that statistics can be independently developed for neighborhood revitalization efforts, for academic research, and for civilian oversight of police activities. It’s notable that the previous administration frequently complained that citizens couldn’t be trusted to respond rationally to crime reports updated every 24 hours from 911 computer-aided dispatch records.

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas has plans to provide updates three times a day. It also merits noting that significant development of the NOPD’s previous internal operations desktop crime-mapping system had been neglected for nearly ten years. The improvement that the public now sees is a system that also benefits the rank-and-file patrol officer who wants to track and analyze emerging crime patterns.

Superintendent Serpas called this technology enhancement a “force
multiplier” that will improve the situational awareness and effectiveness of every officer. This is a highly commendable shift in attitude and results.

On a decidedly positive note, Denice Warren-Ross established that the city decided to use Socrata as a vendor for a turn-key, web-based open data platform, and offered that the vision for an open data model that the administration was striving for is This is very positive news, since it follows the NolaStat philosophy that government doesn’t possess a monopoly on the best uses for city data, or on the best way to publish information on various platforms. The Socrata system will liberate city data so that web developers can access data directly in machine-readable formats, to incorporate into new ways of visualizing city processes, and new ways of informing the public of city activities. If meaningful data sets are published through the Socrata system, New Orleans citizens can expect an explosion of activity centered around the exploration of creative new web-based applications that open up New Orleans government to citizens as never before, and that serve information in ways that uniquely serve particular needs.
Grade: B
The administration has a promising vision, but still has a long way to go to follow through on its commitment to improve public access to city data. The administration deserves high marks for expressed intent. New Orleans citizens shouldn’t be discouraged, but should look forward to tangible results, a concerted effort to make data available to the public as well as the implementation of a consistent reporting format that should significantly improve the grade merited.

Recommendation #2: Improve government responsiveness to public needs with a
performance management process
1) Other than BlightStat, are there any other performance management processes underway? When will a fully functioning performance management process be completed? What does that look like?
2) What specific baseline metrics, and performance targets, have been established for departments?
3) Are their incentives, rewards, or penalties for meeting, or failing to meet performance goals?
“BottomLineStat”: An initiative to track key revenue collection and money saving strategies, as reflected, for example, in the increase in sales tax collection enforcement. This initiative will be expanded and will
“go live” in the next 60 days. Other cost-saving or revenue-generating activities already underway have focused on undervalued building permits, and reducing the use by city workers of take-home vehicles. It
remains to be seen whether the measurable improvements of these activities will be reported in a way that they can easily be found by citizens.

“ReqtoCheckStat”: An initiative to pay contractors on a timely basis, to retain and attract good contractors, and to ensure that requirements of contracts are satisfactorily completed. This will “go live” in the next 90 days.

“PermitStat”: An initiative to integrate all permitting processes through a single point of entry, and to reconcile problems with business processes that plagued the previous administration. This is in a “design
phase,” requiring improvements to the city’s Accela permitting system, but should be operational in the fourth quarter of 2011.

“CustomerStat”: This will be the process by which citizen 311 issues are tracked. This will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Quality of Life Task Force: Two meetings have already convened of this catch-all initiative to measure anything that can be measured in the realm of quality of life in the city. Action items are added to a list
of issues, such as picking up abandoned cars.

Quarterly performance indicators: As part of the city’s budget process, the mayor is required by the City Charter to report to the City Council on a quarterly basis how well budget targets are being met. The
administration’s plan is to follow through with its Budgeting for Outcomes process by reporting, for every department, a list of key performance indicators tied to their budgets. The first quarter indicators
will be reported in the next 30 to 45 days. Additionally, after the inauguration last year, the Landrieu administration quickly implemented its Budgeting for Outcomes process by convening meetings in every
neighborhood to measure the temperature of the city on a set of issues, such as blight reduction. These broad issues were incorporated into the city’s agenda.

Going forward, the Budgeting for Outcomes process will focus more on quality, rather than speed, in soliciting input from the community.
Aside from these specific initiatives, each city agency is now required to submit a business plan to the respective Deputy Mayor. Business plans contain departmental missions, goals, key initiatives, SWOT
analysis, deliverables with timetables, performance measures, and organizational charts. Draft plans were due by the end of the first quarter of 2011. None were made available in the meeting for review or
discussion, but there are internal “Requests for Proposals” that are similar in approach that can be found on the CAO’s web page.

Responding by email to a follow-up question on how performance management is reinforced by the deputy mayor system, Deputy Mayor Kopplin offered:
Each department head now has developed a business plan with key performance indicators and measurable goals that are linked to the budget. Our deputy mayors manage the performance of departments based on their achieving these goals and living within their budget. They are supported by our Office of Performance Management and stat programs to track progress against goal for these key performance indicators.

Supporting the performance management process in the future will be business intelligence dashboards, of which only mockups exist at this point. There was little discussion about how this would be done. It
seems it could only be a remote goal given the report about data systems being so egregiously unreliable.

Other systems initiatives will have a bearing on the city’s ability to deliver high quality services to citizens include, as mentioned, improvements to the Accela permitting system, a complete overhaul of
the city’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) accounting system, and a new 311 customer relationship management platform that will have an Open311 component. Open 311 systems implemented in other
cities are particularly good for integrating citizen complaints into smart phone applications.

Meanwhile, a tweak to the NOPD 911 CAD system has produced a useful report that Kopplin now receives. He reported that 1100 NOPD officers worked 30,000 details between December 1st and May 1st.
Grade: B
It was disappointing that no report of performance management successes was offered. One might have expected the administration to take more seriously the desire to show progress. Fortunately, there are
documents that can be found with a little searching around the city’s website. A BlightStat presentation, for example, reported that code enforcement inspections have increased to about 600 per week, or
roughly five times the rate when the program began in November.4 Meanwhile, code lien foreclosures have increased to about 35 per week, or 14 times the rate when the program began. These are positive
signs that the program is working – that there is directional progress, and that the task of tracking data is beginning to drive positive results.
As the city’s first regularly-convened statistics-driven accountability example, the BlightStat process merits attention. The administration fumbled the implementation of this project by failing to release an
announcement that the program was about to commence, and only after news leaked out, did the administration open up an invitation for the public to attend. Since then, the public response has been
very favorable to the meetings being conducted in the open. That said, the meetings scheduled every other Thursday morning may not be easy to attend. The city would benefit from using video streaming
technology to increase access to these meetings. The City Council has expanded access to council meetings in this way, using a system called Granicus that was implemented about two years ago. City Council meetings are archived, and are searchable. The same could be done for performance management meetings. Currently, the best source of archived information about BlightStat meetings is the detailed notes written by Faubourg St. John neighborhood association blogger Charlie London.

Maybe that is as it should be, but if unofficial, decentralized reports of administration happenings is the administration’s desired approach, the rapid implementation of an open data policy is an even higher priority, yet there remain frequent complaints that the city’s Accela permitting management system is being used as an excuse for why blight data can’t be produced.

While the BlightStat initiative is ambitiously pursuing Mayor Landrieu’s goal to eliminate 10,000 blighted properties, noticeably absent from the policy are any historic preservation goals. Is the administration
pursuing alternatives to demolition? Is the city counting the number of historic properties that have been saved from “demolition by neglect,” or counting the number of historic properties that have been saved from official city orders to raze? How is the city reconciling the conflict between the historic nature of buildings, with the flood insurance requirement that flood-destroyed homes be elevated?

While eliminating blight in the city is a laudable goal that the administration deserves accolades for pursuing, historic preservation appears to be a afterthought. This is a concern to many preservation
advocates, who have expressed concern that blight officials have often not been receptive to their input, and in light of official statements that “demos have hit their stride”, and that “the city is trying to get as
many demos as possible through FEMA.”5

Stepping back from the focused vantage of BlightStat, and examining more broadly the administration’s performance management policy, greater clarification of official policy should be made. The NolaStat
performance management recommendation was for the city to hold regular accountability sessions that engaged all departments in collective problem solving. The Budgeting for Outcomes process is an
excellent, well-established budget process used by government managers everywhere — but there are good BFO processes, and there are bad ones. As we’ve seen from the previous administration, lack of
meaningful goals produces lackluster performance. Furthermore, the experience of many other cities has been that annual, or even quarterly, goal-setting exercises aren’t sufficient to track and manage challenges that occur in real-time.

The Landrieu administration’s commitment to tying department key performance indicators to the budget is highly commendable, yet the previous administration demonstrated appallingly lackluster performance following the same Budgeting for Outcomes model. There is no clear evidence yet that the Office of Performance Management and “stat programs” are, in fact, tracking progress against key
performance indicators. The administration has stated that plans are in place for quarterly reports, but the NolaStat reform policy specifically recommended the successful approach implemented in other
cities – of performance review meetings held on a more frequent basis, at least bi-weekly.

The experience of other cities with positive statistics-driven leadership models has been that the greater frequency of meetings increases the number of times available to review, refine, and support performance improvement. With a quarterly review model, there will be only four opportunities a year for the administration and the public to see how well deputy mayors and department heads are meeting their performance targets. Other than the aforementioned named initiatives, such as BlightStat, the administration has a decidedly different approach model than what was recommended in the NolaStat
reform policy.

Moreover, the development of sound internal measures that lead to outcomes, not just changes in outputs, is a critical component of the success of any process. These measures should be developed in
consultation with experts in the field, staff members at all levels of departments, and with an eye to long term goals, which are different than intermediate outcomes.

For long-term performance targets to be met in cities like New Orleans that have a long history of chronic performance problems, challenges have to be tackled on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with specific outcome expectations and goals. That was a vital lesson learned from NolaStat research on other cities, and became a foundational recommendation. Thus far, other than BlightStat, the administration has appears to have invested its faith in the BFO architecture for long-term goal setting,
perhaps learning as it goes that managing expectations requires a process of regular goal setting and review. This is simply not enough. It is more than just money that should be a concern of the administration.

A serious performance management project will yield data that may transform entire organizational systems and business processes, and as part of that transformation, produce even more efficient systems. If budgetary efficiency is the only goal, however, we will continue to fall short of performance efficiency – a citizen driven requirement. If the outcomes and intermediate outputs are incorrectly focused, then we will not benchmark toward progress, and provide a key vision for the improvement of city services that more closely align with citizen-driven priorities.

Many New Orleans citizens are highly suspicious of statistics, having heard the litany of city pronouncements in previous administrations lauding crime reductions, potholes getting filled, streets being repaired, blighted properties being abated, etc. What most people want to know is how those statistics improve the quality of life in their block – in their neighborhood. “Show me the money!” was the famous Cuba Gooding refrain. “What have you done for me lately?” is what citizens want to know.

When is the city going to fix that pothole that destroyed my car’s alignment? When is that crack house going to be shut down? Why are all the streets in good neighborhoods getting fixed before mine? What
specific progress has been made in getting a hospital back to New Orleans East? Annual Budgeting for Outcomes metrics won’t alleviate the day-to-day frustration that citizens feel. New Orleans can and
should do better than strive for annual or quarterly reports.

On the other hand, while the administration isn’t now completely fulfilling the expectation of regular performance management sessions, neither is it sitting idle, or offering lofty but meaningless promises,
as did the previous administration. In deference to the administration’s signs of positive movement, the public should remember that performance management isn’t a one-time achievement. It’s a process
that evolves and improves as lessons are learned. What matters is directional improvement through the process of accountable administrators owning problems, and producing results by sharing strategies in an inter-agency forum for collective problem solving.

There is a clear sign that the administration is making honest investments in the process of managing for results that really matter to people. Time will tell what results are actually achieved. Public expectations are high, and in the interim much more clear,
consistent communication from the Office of Performance and Accountability about these efforts is needed.

Recommendation #3: Institutionalize reforms and exercise best practices by creating an office staffed with technical personnel and performance management professionals
1) What new positions have been created to support performance management and open data systems goals?
2) What hires have been made, what are the qualifications of those hires, how many people applied, and what was the selection process for screening candidates?
3) What is the allocated budget to implement performance management and open data systems?
The Office of Performance Management and Accountability was created in the fall of 2010 with a $700,000 budget. Staffing the office are:
Oliver Wise, Director
• Background in public policy analysis and think tanks
• MPA from NYU Wagner School
James Husserl, Performance Manager
• Background in accounting and finance
• BA from Loyola, MPAs from London School of Economics and Institut d’Etudes politiques de Paris
Jen Cecil, Performance Manager
• Former capital budget director
• Background in public policy and education
• MPP from Ford School, University of Michigan
Mia Wallace, Performance Analyst
• Background in business process analytics and accounting
• BA from Xavier
• MBA candidate from Tulane
• McMain alumna
Justin Kray, Technology Specialist• Background in GIS, graphic design, and urban planning
• MSCRP from the Pratt Institute
Other administration members who should be considered as part of a performance management strategy are Cary Grant, Budget Director, and his staff. Allen Square, once the “Deputy” Chief Information Officer, is now officially the CIO, and heads a “Service and Innovation Team.” Square has reportedly been very busy in the first year stabilizing the city’s technology infrastructure, while examining and restructuring business processes and workflows. He has hired web developers, a GIS
manager, and analysts. Meanwhile, Denice Warren-Ross, who was hired as the city’s “interim” GIS Manager, clearly plays a highly strategic role in forming overall strategy and implementing best practices.

New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas leads the city’s crime-fighting Comstat initiative. There is an entire process there that has been in place, with varying success, since the Morial administration.

Finally, leading the city’s blight abatement effort is Jeffrey Hebert, the Director of Blight Policy & Neighborhood Revitalization. The issue of Civil Service barriers to hiring for new positions came up in conversation more than once, and yet, no strategy was articulated for how to fix that critical problem. The administration has expressed problems getting people hired for positions due to bureaucratic Civil Service impediments,
yet it is unclear what the administration’s vision is for reforming Civil Service.

Recent glimpses into the administration’s Civil Service plans have been highlighted by news reports on attempts to change the policy of older workers “bumping” younger workers during layoffs. In a Times-
Picayune story, Mayor Landrieu threatened to replace The Civil Service Commission’s five members if they didn’t comply with his plans.6 The fact that a May 2nd 22-page memo on the bumping policy drafted
by the Mayor’s office, cited in the story, can’t be found on the city’s website demonstrates, at a minimum, a significant gap in the administration’s communications strategy. In fact, a keyword search of using the term “memo” produces a single result – a 2006 statement by previous Mayor C. Ray Nagin re-asserting his commitment “to compensate fairly all the men and women who bravely and tirelessly serve this city.”7

The memo and a letter to the Civil Service Commission can be found as links to documents stored on The Times-Picayune’s servers, suggesting that the newspaper offers a better source of information on official policy than the administration.8

The administration’s interest in reforming workforce rules in City Hall to improve services seems clear, even if a comprehensive strategy is not.
Admirably, at least in the technology realm, the administration is trying to move toward the use of civil servants for day-to-day production needs, rather than relying upon the well-publicized substandard results that obtained by the previous administration’s reliance upon a graft-influenced contracting process. Contractors will only be used for special technology projects. It’s unclear whether this special projects contractor approach is being exercised in other city activities.

Deputy Mayor Kopplin was asked to provide a complete organization chart for the administration, listing names and salaries. Deputy Mayor Kopplin replied in a follow-up email, stating that a link to the administration’s executive staff organization chart can be found at It’s true that an organization chart can be found by searching the city’s website, yet the organization chart is far from a complete, and does not answer the question about salaries earned by people working for the administration. 9

Additionally, though not mentioned in the meeting, the administration has been awarded a $400,000 IBM Smarter Cities grant to study opportunities for technology to make the city “healthier, safer,
smarter, more efficient, more prosperous, and attractive to current and prospective residents and businesses.” This effort may produce results that fortify the institutionalization of a performance management approach in City Hall, yet it would help to know in more detail what IBM will be doing for the city.

Furthermore, again not mentioned in the meeting, the argument for institutionalization of reforms was reported with some of the strongest language possible in a study published earlier this year by the Public Strategies Group, a Massachusetts consulting firm.10

Grade: C
The issue of Civil Service reform deserves more attention by the administration. When are classified positions merited, and when are appointments merited? If the administration’s goal is to create an
adaptable, responsive, skilled bureaucracy through appointments, then greater transparency should be brought into the process of hiring decisions.

It is disappointing, therefore, that the appointment of a campaign worker, Oliver Wise, with no obvious background in performance management or performance measurement was made to staff the
Director’s position for the newly created Office of Performance and Accountability. Wise had apparently lived in New Orleans for less than two years as a policy researcher, immediately following an academic
career, and worked in the Landrieu campaign before being appointed to his post. It needs to be said, one wonders if a person with more significant actual professional experience at turning around
municipal government could have been found for such a critical position.

The concern is that a person in such a pivotal post could either be an agent for transforming government, or a barrier to change. The lack of transparency in that hiring decision, and the lack of a thorough search for such a pivotal position, offers the appearance of politics as usual.

The process for choosing a Director of the Office of Performance and Accountability should represent change in the political system of City Hall, providing the substance of reform, with a fresh emphasis on excellence and experience in hiring decisions, rather than reward for political loyalty.

With respect to decisions made to staff the Office of Performance and Accountability, what stands out is academic rather than significant professional experience, and minimal is the cumulative experience of
staff hires actually living in New Orleans working professionally in a realm that would expose them to City Hall’s problems. There appears to be a high value placed on planning and accounting skills, yet for all of the discussion about data systems that need scrubbing and manual counting to derive performance statistics, there should perhaps be more people who can actually write programmed routines to automate some of those tabulation exercises with knowledge of performance management and performance measurement.

Will this be coordinated with the city’s IT staff? Or is everything going
to be produced with off-the-shelf software? It’s unclear what the priorities are, or how the day-to-day division of labor will be coordinated.
Many NolaStat supporters offered reports of an amateur hiring process for positions in the Office of Performance and Accountability. Deputy Mayor Kopplin was asked to explain what his values were, and the competencies and experience, that he sought in hires for these positions – and in particular, the qualities he sought in a person to lead the Office of Performance and Accountability.

He answered in a follow-up email that “our BlightStat strategy and its implementation have been led by Oliver Wise and they have been widely praised for their vision and effectiveness.” This unsatisfactory reply is like prematurely praising a novice passenger who grabs the wheel of an airplane in freefall after the pilot is found unresponsive. The plane still has to be safely landed. From a condition of absolute ruin in which New Orleans has the worst blight problem of any city in the country, any oversight at all will produce better results than have been seen before.

It should also be mentioned that the administration’s blight czar, Jeff Hebert, Director of Blight Policy & Neighborhood Revitalization, has considerable experience that bears recognition in any reported success of the BlightStat strategy. It’s also true that the administration’s blight abatement policy has appeared on more than one occasion to suffer from either a lack of coordination with historic preservation authorities, or failure to coordinate with private preservation organizations, such as was the case when the historic home of jazz legend Sydney Bechet
was demolished.11

It should also be noted that the administration negotiated with Civil Service to ensure that Office of Performance and Accountability positions would remain unclassified. Despite well-known problems with
the Civil Service system, as previously mentioned here and in other forums, maybe this was not the best strategy for New Orleans. Had these positions been classified, more attention to qualifications, rather
than relationships, may have yielded a different, more experienced team.

Additional comment on this can be found in the summary findings below.
At a higher executive level, Deputy Mayor Kopplin was asked to explain how his peers among the deputy mayors are all being integrated into a performance management culture. Many NolaStat supporters have observed that there appears to be a new top-heavy bureaucracy created to manage the city’s affairs. This new level of bureaucracy may prove unwieldy if it doesn’t actually improve a culture of leadership accountability to the person, a well-documented cornerstone of the success of such efforts in other cities around the country. On the other hand, the deputy mayor system may still prove to be an excellent instrument for instilling pride in results, and reward, down through the ranks of hard-working civil servants. It’s for the administration to demonstrate that the deputy mayor is justified based upon evidence of such a model in other cities. Barring that, a publicly-reported cost-benefit analysis may be justified to prove its merits. Thus far, there is little evidence exhibited by the administration of a true understanding of more than bureaucracy, but leadership required at all levels to successfully build a performance management process.

The benefit of time and results may prove otherwise. Until then, it’s
fair to ask how the deputy mayor system functions to improve city services, or if it’s just a costly additional layer of executive bureaucracy.
The spirit of the recommendation to institutionalize NolaStat reforms in a dedicated office has been observed, but time will tell if the office quickly produces the kinds of efficiencies that citizens have a right to demand for the budgeted investment.

Recommendation #4: Close the feedback loop between government and citizens by engaging
the community to ensure that performance goals and data needs are being satisfied
1) How is the public being included in the creation of performance metrics in order to ensure that particular constituent and neighborhood needs are being satisfied, and that investments in services reflect community values?
2) How are performance metrics being reported back to the community?
Office of Performance and Accountability Director Oliver Wise paused before responding to these questions, as though he’d never before considered the importance of reporting results to the community, or of soliciting public input in the performance management process. After an
uncomfortable moment to consider his response, Wise settled on the Budgeting for Outcomes process, stating that quarterly progress will be reported to the City Council. Through that process, the public will
be able to find out whether departments are meeting their goals. First quarter BFO results will be reported to the City Council by the end of the 2nd quarter on June 30th.

In keeping with the Budgeting for Outcomes process, PFM consultants will be utilized again to assemble results teams that identify key performance indicators for every department. Denice Warren-Ross added that the administration has affirmatively responded to community feedback through the BlightStat process when, for example, requests have been made to obtain particular addresses of targeted properties.

Wise continued that the administration would be contracting with the LSU Survey Center to initiate a citizen survey in August, and survey results would be reported back to the community.

Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned in response to this question, the Socrata system mentioned above may yet prove to be the best system for crowd-sourcing and publishing independently-developed
metrics and analysis of government performance. The concept expressed through NolaStat advocacy was that raw data produced by the city in machine-readable formats could be transformed into
independently produced maps, charts, and analysis. The conventional approach used by the previous administration was that its contractors should be given a monopoly on building websites, effectively keeping data and meaningful knowledge locked behind websites that were at best difficult to use, and at worst, that contained outdated information that couldn’t be trusted.

The administration clearly intends to engage citizens on a more elemental level, leaving open to a free market of creative competition the best way to report information that matters to them.

Neither was it mentioned how the newly-created Office of Neighborhoods would be involved in the process of engaging the community to elicit issues of concern, and reporting administration
accomplishments back to the community. The idea of an Office of Neighborhoods seems like a good idea that arose out of neighborhood frustrations with City Hall throughout the Hurricane Katrina recovery
experience. One hopes that the vision for this office is to do more than just attend neighborhood association meetings to establish an administration presence in the community. Furthermore, the
absence of a full expression of values from the administration about how a formal community participation process will be robustly incorporated into future land-use planning decisions has been

Other than some published information documenting plans for upcoming City Planning Commission best practices research and meetings, with an uncertain timeline for accomplishments, there has been little information forthcoming from the administration.12
Grade: C
There doesn’t appear to be much of an organized strategy for citizen engagement, although clearly Mayor Landrieu exhibited an innovative and honest desire in the 2010 budgeting process to engage citizens in the process of identifying issues and goals. The Mayor also hired two people for a new Office of Neighborhoods. However, their mere attendance at community meetings is not communication or
engagement – it’s simply a start. Citizen engagement as part of a performance management strategy still doesn’t appear from the NolaStat discussion to be a well-thought out strategy, even when there are things happening which indicate the desire – for example, BlightStat and NOPD ComStat meetings are open to the public. Hopefully, the administration will learn to better articulate a vision that includes
ongoing performance management as a process that benefits from including the community in decisions about what matters to them.

There are numerous examples of successful community reporting initiatives that have taken place throughout the country. Some are sophisticated, time-consuming and expensive to implement. Others
don’t require any sophisticated software, but rely upon an honest commitment to diligently proving that government works for its citizens.

Among the stat-driven leadership models for reporting results, there
are examples found in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and many other cities.13 In fact, in Baltimore, the public had an opportunity to interact with former Mayor Martin O’Malley every two weeks as part of that city’s CitiStat process. In Florida, there are cities that provide a summary of performance results in the newspaper on an annual basis.

Other cities use what is known as the citizen-centric report that has been developed by the Association of Governmental Accountants. Still other cities, such as Saco, Maine, have developed comprehensive
reports that are available both in print based and electronic forms for all citizen constituents to see and view. These reports are made on an annual basis, and the model could be adapted for the City of New
Orleans. A fundamental tenet of successful performance management initiatives in these examples is that they didn’t wait for investments in complicated systems, but started measuring and reporting what
was available to them immediately in order to send the signal that from the mayor down, accountability for results would be the what government is doing.

Improve the process over time. The citizen constituents who pay taxes and actually pay for government’s operation should be entitled to easy,
understandable access to performance information on a consistent basis. Citizens have a right to expect excellence in performance management from day one.

Summary comments
To summarize this update on the Landrieu administration’s adoption of NolaStat reform recommendations, there are some truly exciting projects underway that should satisfy NolaStat supporters. Mayor Landrieu and Deputy Mayor Kopplin deserve high marks for being receptive to the public demand for change. The goal of the NolaStat advocacy campaign was for the city to adopt a set of four specific recommendations that would institutionalize a culture of improving the quality, efficiency, and equity of city services. The early signs of progress toward these goals are very encouraging, but much remains to be done.

The decidedly positive general impression that NolaStat supporters should acquire from the findings of this report is that the administration has, in fact, initiated in spirit the reforms that were the purpose of
the NolaStat recommendations in the first place. There is significant room for improvement, but it appears that changes being made now have the potential to produce dramatically positive results in the
near to mid-term, but only if they are followed up by consistent attention to measures, outcomes, goals and include the input of citizens to help determine the priorities of this government. It should be a
bottom-up approach, not top-down.

The great merit of a transparent, accountable, performance management process is that it forces coordination of activity, and drives a citizen-driven, results-oriented focus. Let the data tell the story of
the city’s progress, report that story to the public, engage the public in the development of their narrative for the future, and let them tell their story of where the problems are – what they want the story to be — and either the way business in City Hall is conducted will change for the better, or voters will choose a better person to run the city.

We should all hope that change for the better results in another four-year term for Mayor Landrieu. That might be the best measure of performance success, but we need to see the tangible, measurable
results that lead toward a qualitative improvement in the quality of life for all New Orleans citizens. The road might seem bumpy now, but the Landrieu administration appears to be on the right track for now with respect to the adoption of NolaStat recommendations.

1 Sunlight Foundation, Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information, 11 Aug. 2010, (accessed 5 June 2011).
2 Jon Gant and Nicol Turner-Lee, Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory
Government, A project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation, Feb. 2011,
(accessed 5 June 2011).
3 Paul Murphy, “NOPD unveils new system for crime maps, ” WWL TV Eyewitness News, 2 June, 2011, (accessed 2 June 2011).
4 City of New Orleans, Master BlightStat Presentation, 5 May 2011, (accessed 22 May 2011);
City of New Orleans, Office of Performance and Accountability Business Plan, 7 April 2011,,
(accessed 5 June 2011).
5 Charlie London, “BlightStat 13,” Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association blog, 5 May 2011, (accessed 5 June 2011).
6 Michelle Krupa, “City Hall pushes to end policy where laid-off workers can ‘bump’ others with less seniority,” The
Times-Picayune, 31 May 2011, (accessed 5 June 2011).
Brian Denzer Page 18 6/8/2011
2011 NolaStat Progress Report
7 City of New Orleans, Administration Holds to Commitment to Pay Increase for City Employees, 16 September
(accessed 5 June 2011).
8 New Orleans First Deputy Mayor/CAO Andrew J. Kopplin, Letter to Civil Service Commission Chairman William R.
Forrester, Jr., 31 May 2011, (accessed 5 June 2011); New
Orleans First Deputy Mayor/CAO Andrew J. Kopplin, Memo Re: Proposed amendment to Civil Service Rule XII, 2
May 2011,
(accessed 5 June 2011).
9 City of New Orleans, Executive Organizational Chart, 21 March 2011,
(accessed 5 June 2011).
10 Michelle Krupa, “New Orleans City Hall dysfunction leaves specialist ‘shocked’,” The Times-Picayune, 3 March
2011, (accessed 5 June
11 Monica Hernandez, “Demolition of jazz legend’s home pushes advocates to strengthen preservation,” WWL TV
Eyewitness News, 10 Nov. 2010,–
(accessed 5 June 2011).
12 New Orleans City Planning Commission, Neighborhood Participation Program (NPP) Scope and Schedule, 17 Feb.
2011, (accessed 22 May 2011).
13 Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, “CitiStat Enhances Baltimore
Performance: Innovator’s Focus,” Visionaries, 2004,, (accessed 5
June 2011).

Click here for a PDF of Brian Denzer’s report

BlightStat 15

by Charlie London


    Fighting Blight with Sheriff Sales

The auction date for properties is advertised in the Times Picayune, the official newspaper of record, thirty (30) days before the auction and again on Monday, the week of the auction. Upcoming lists of properties for sale are available in the Real Estate Section of the Sheriff’s Office three (3) weeks prior to the actual auction of a piece of property and on the Sheriff’s website under the heading, “Real Estate Sales Lists.”



Click here to sign up!

This Saturday, the City of New Orleans is planning the 3rd “Fight the Blight” Volunteer Day from 10:00am– 1:00pm. Throughout the past year, residents have made it clear that they are serious about fighting blight.

The comprehensive blight strategy, including organized volunteer efforts, has resulted in marked progress, but it will continue to take all hands on deck to truly rid our city of blight. Saturday’s “Fight the Blight” Volunteer Day, just like the previous two, reflects a true partnership between the City, local neighborhood organizations, local non-profits and volunteers from throughout the community.

Efforts will be targeted within a five-block radius of open schools, playgrounds, and high-traffic commercial corridors.

The five locations for the 3rd “Fight the Blight” Volunteer Day will be:
George Washington Carver Park, 7424 Prytania St. at Leake Avenue. (District A)
Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Corridor, 1529 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. (District B)
St. Roch Playground, 1829 St. Roch Street (District C)
Union Playspot, Corner of St. Roch and Humanity (District D)
Di Benedetto Playground, 4700 Papania (District E)
Activities will include litter abatement, strategic demolitions, grass-cutting, neighborhood beautification, code citing, and painting. Volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves.


Click HERE to view the City’s BlightStat presentation

This was the fifteenth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.


Code enforcement inspections remain high with 1299 inspections this bi-weekly period. The bi-weekly goal for inspections is 1200. Hazardous Waste dropoff at Elysian Fields facility on Saturday, June 11… paint, oil, lightbulbs, etc.

Report from WH Reid, same report as last week. Strategic demo pipeline and FEMA pipeline. Chipping away at inspections backlog. Focusing on very old inspections.

Mr. Andy Kopplin – Now we have accurate data to help keep inspections current. So, now what’s next? WH Reid – during the summer grass becomes an issue as do falling buildings.

Ms. Kristin Illarmo – still below target but hearings should pickup during July. Currently working on cases for July 12th sale. Need more people. Cases coming out now are quality cases and Kristin is reviewing each one. Quality takes time and they are doing well. Quality is essential to getting problem properties to Sheriff Sale. Need more people to get quantity. 7 case managers with support staff.

Hearing outcomes – cases have fewer resets. Better quality info going to adjudication. A. Kopplin – let’s get quality assurance going – WH Reid to assist with re-inspections

Mr. Jeff Hebert – hearing results are not updated online. Will work on it.

Mr. Carrere – large complexes on Michoud and Chef Hwy torn down.

Reinspecting properties denied by SHPO. Mr. Jeff Hebert – SHPO denials that fall down, catch on fire, etc – need stats. Hillaire will get info.

Demo of condos is a problem. Many in the East do not have firewalls. Built in 70’s – the code is better now. Project Home Again is helping. Labor intensive problem. If one condo is demolished the process can affect other condos.

LLT has spent most of its demo money.

FEMA demo report – Dean Wolcott – owner notifications and historic review slows FEMA demolitions but process is moving forward. Utility cutoffs and asbestos testing is part of the process. Some waiting on hearings and re-inspections.

65 FEMA trailers remain.

Lot clearings 28 cleaned 18 complied

Ms. C.S. Lear – illegal dumping sites- working with DEQ and QOL officers. Tire dumping getting worse. Working with small tire shops. No more than 20 tires on site. Some houses are full of tires. Expects number of tires to increase.

June 11 – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – 2829 Elysian Fields- household haz waste day. More waste in canals and dumping in storm drains.

Recycling saves money for city. Door hangers were distributed in Faubourg St. John today and are also available at Terranova’s.

Increase in enforcement has the negative effect of more dumping and storage in unacceptable areas. 4 tires will be picked up in front of residences.

Sheriff Sales – steady improvement. Myles Granderson -& Tyler. Civil Sheriff to have education program about Sheriff Sales in September.

Liens are being collected as property goes to Sheriff sale. Collected 200,000 in fines in the last few months.

Mr. A.Kopplin – clearly Sherrif sales are getting people to pay fines and begin taking care of property. Do fees cover costs? Needs to be investigated.

LLT accepting bids on properties. Investigate grants and loans. Credit tight. Mr. Andy Kopplin – let’s think out of the box to see who can help.

Hearings remain below the target of 450 with 88 hearings this bi-weekly period.

Clearly code enforcement hearings are holding the blight eradication process back. With 1200 inspections every two weeks and less than 100 hearings every two weeks, it will be a century before the goal of 10,000 units of blight will be eradicated.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, June 16, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011 | May 5, 2011 | May 19, 2011| | June 2, 2011

BlightStat 14

Click HERE to view a PDF of the City’s presentation

Notes from the meeting by Charlie London

The city issued a “writ of seizure” on
3023-3029 Dumaine last Friday.

This was the fourteenth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.

Mr. Oliver Wise presides over each meeting, asks questions of the attendees, and keeps the meeting on schedule.

The meeting began with a report from Mr. Winston Reid (Code Enforcement) who indicated his department is working on staying the course concentrating on consistency. His department remains above goals.

Mr. Reid added that his department is working on the inspections backlog. Now that his department has good sound data the numbers should improve.

Mr. Reid received congratulatory remarks from Mr. Andy Kopplin (Deputy Mayor) and Mr. Oliver Wise.

Ms. Kristin Illarmo (Code Enforcement) indicated they are still struggling with hearings. The first two weeks of June are not likely to be good but should pick up by the end of June.

Ms. Illarmo mentioned that they have re-arranged the staff which should yield benefits in the future. Once again, at this meeting, she noted that photos are often not with inspections when the case managers get the reports from the inspectors even though the inspectors have includede the photos. This is an ongoing problem and she is working with IT on a solution. Benefits in coming weeks.

Inspectors are attaching photos but the photos don’t show up for case managers. Resets for reinspection can occur if the photos are not available. The total number of hearings is still well below the target of 450 every two weeks. Restructuring of staff should change that.

Mr. Kopplin noted that Mr. Square was not present at the meeting because he is getting married tomorrow.

Mr. Wise asked for an explanation on the useful life of inspections.
Ms. Illarmo replied that there is no real end of life for inspections. The city does not generally set cases for inspections older than 60 days old unless a recent complaint is received. Ms. Illarmo indicated that this is an “internal policy” and not part of the code.

So, one might ascertain that the squeeky wheel gets the grease. Her statement may indicate that if you want properties in your neighborhood adjudicated, you must call 311 and email code enforcement at least once each month and encourage others to do so.

Every case gets an inspection about 10 days before the hearing.

Mr. Reid stated that his department is “creating systematic strategies”. Change of ownership, demolition, renovation all affect whether a property can be adjudicated.

Hearings are fewer but of better quality and outcome due to better preparation. 44 guilty 14 in compliance. Conditional guiltys are fewer. Cases are being closed due to better preparation for cases due to technical issues being fixed. The focus is on keeping undesirable resets down.

73 demolitions were transferred to FEMA. 22 demos to hearings later this month. 9 approved for demo from NCDC last week. SHPO, NCDC, HDLC slows process.

A discussion ensued about demolitions and the process of getting strategic demolitions to the contractor to get demolished. Mr. Andy Kopplin indicated there should be 135 properties available to be demolished. Mr. Oliver Wise stated that it should be crystal clear that there are 135 properties that should be knocked down. There are 135 properties approved through the process.

Mr. Jeff Hebert said there are over 3000 judgements some of which could be demolition candidates. Why does chart say 726? Mr. Hebert very strongly stated that something is amiss with the numbers and expects the process to improve. Mr. Hebert and Mr. Reid to discuss further later.

Mr. Andy Kopplin said, “we’re getting better but need to stay focused on the problems”.

Mr. Dean Wolcott – SCIC – FEMA demolitions
Said there are 919 properties available for FEMA demolition.
756 active packets – some renovated some already demolished. 513 of 756 waiting on adjudication. Click here to learn more about FEMA paid demolitions.

Ms. Cynthia Sylvain Lear of the Sanitation Department stated that June 11th is Hazardous Materials day. Citizens are encouraged to bring items like paint, computers, caulk, oil and any other hazardous waste on June 11th.

Ms. Lear also encouraged neighborhoods to remind citizens to sign up for the recycling program as this program not only helps the environment but saves the city money too.

Officer Terrence Johnson has been assigned to Sanitation Department. He will coordinate efforts on inspections of tire stores.

Ms. Lear announced that a Sanitation Ranger position will be added and that after Civil Service approves the position, the city has a qualified candidate ready to be hired.

Mr. Miles Granderson stated that liens are like a mortgage and the city is steadily foreclosing on properties owned by people who have not paid their blight fines. He responded to my inquiry about 3023-3029 Dumaine indicating that a “writ of seizure” was filed last Friday. 3023-3029 Dumaine should show up in a Sheriff Sale in about 3 months unless the owner pays the $70,000 in fines. Click on the link below to learn more about 3023 – 3029 Dumaine.

Ms. Brenda Breaux noted that she is stressing to Case Managers that they need to “get me to and get me through the June sale then we’ll meet with the Sheriff”.

A couple of questions from the audience were answered and the meeting adjourned.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, June 2, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011 | May 5, 2011

BlightStat 13

Article and photo by Charlie London

This was the thirteenth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.

Please click here to view the BlightStat13 slideshow

Oliver Wise began the meeting at 8 a.m. About 35 people were in the audience many who are employees of the City. Mr. Jeff Hebert praised the efforts of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association getting the blight at 1551 Mystery removed.

City officials were given information today about 3023 Dumaine. The Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association will focus on getting this property remediated.

1,605 code enforcement inspections this bi-weekly period which far exceeds the goal of 1,200. Inspections may slow a bit during the summer months due to the emphasis on getting properties with high grass into compliance. Mr. Winston Reid (Code Enforcement) spoke of feeding the adjudication pipeline.

Mr. Oliver Wise spoke about the reconciled chart of inspections backlog. About 600 now. Needed to be reconciled due to technical issues. Mr. Reid noted that now we have a “good baseline to start from”.

Code Enforcement has cut into the backlog and are focusing on inspections with renewed vigor. There was a scattershot approach previously but now with new information available the department can focus on categories.

Mr. Andy Kopplin praised the efforts of code enforcement. Mr. Reid said the team made it happen.

Ms. Kristin Illarmo noted that the number of hearings is significantly below the target of 450 each bi-weekly period but added that there is slow but steady progress. 213 hearings this period with fewer resets. 52 work-in-progress resets. There were a larger number of “legal” resets. Ms. Illarmo said they are working with folks in good standing in state programs. The department now knows if the owner is actually waiting on Road Home money and if they are in good standing with the program.

Mr. Wise stated the numbers are encouraging.

Mr. Hebert noted that there is an uptick in work-in-progress resets and suspects people are starting to get the picture. Ms. Illarmo stated the city is expecting high standards of compliance adding that case managers know to be vigilant.

Ms. Brenda Breaux stated the new hearing officers will start May 16 through19 and will be involved in their first hearings then.

Ms. Illarmo expects a continued slow steady climb as case managers work to find a balance. The big hurdle is creating cases while holding as many hearings as possible. Streamlining forms and processes will help so everyone is literally on the same page.

Mr. Hebert noted that the City is calling on old case staff for advise on maximizing efforts to catch up on old cases.

Mr. Allen Square asked if the reports working in Accela.

Ms. Illarmo replied that the reports are working now as they should have from the beginning as of yesterday.

Mr. Square asked that his department be notified about any issues.
Ms. Illarmo said there is still a problem with photos not attaching in Accela. No solution yet.

Mr. Wise inquired about the hearings backlog and asked how close.

Ms. Illarmo replied that the data looks good but if the photos aren’t attached it slows the process. She will follow up with Eric on that.
Mr. Wise replied, “So, we are getting close.”

Mr. Square asked if inspections have a time limit. The Accela representative said they are working on 2010 inspections.

Accela appears to have been the stumbling block for quite some time.

Mr. Reid noted that a lot of stuff remains on paper due to technology issues. Have to check for duplicates due to multiple inspections.
Mr. Wise summed up and noted there are still a few issues – new case mgrs and hearing officers should reduce point of pressure.
Ms. Illarmo said, “We can hold 108 hearings a day but can’t produce 108 cases.”

Mr. Wise noted that Accela needs to work to make the process smoother.

In his usual succint style, Mr. Carrere noted that demos have hit their stride. He spoke of FEMA demolitions and that the city is trying to get as many demos as possible through FEMA.

He announced that another 154 unit complex off Chef Hwy near Michoud will be the next big demo project.

Ms. Alice Martin spoke about the demoliton of Louisiana Land Trust properties. Mr. Wise inquired, “Are these neighbor requests?
Ms. Martin replied that the majority are LLT identified demolitions.

Ms. Joyce Wilkerson spoke about the phase 2 Sheriff sale which will feature properties in New Orleans East. The plan is to open bids in mid-June. Properties not posted yet.

Mr. Wise talked about the strategic demo pipeline. 21 demos in terms of properties. 29 units.

Do-not –demolish orders by the NCDC and the resulting appeals to the City Council slow the process.

Mr. Reid noted that re-development funds can be saved by getting as many properties as possible done via FEMA.

Mr. Paul May said that only 109 FEMA trailers are left in the city as of May 4th.

Mr. Andy Kopplin asked if the fines and and rent are enough to get properties in to compliance concerning FEMA trailers.

Mr. Paul May said the combination of hearings and the work of FEMA case managers will help rid the city of trailers.

Mr. Kopplin asked if the contractor doing lot clearings should be brought to the meetings?

Mr. Reid stated he is stressing quantity with quality of work to the contractor. Contractor has been managed and has let go of some sub-contractors.

Mr. Hebert noted that Keith is working hard to get lots cleared.

Mr. Kopplin said the contractor continues to be a problem. Now that subs are fired let’s give him a chance but make him earn his money.
Mr. Hebert asked – what about District A
Keith – all lots in District A and C
have been cleared.

Ms. Cynthia Sylvain Lear said they are working on a grant for four people to go to Philadelphia to see how lots are cleared there.
The Sanitation Department continues to work with NOPD dumping issues. The city got a call about Grant Street dumping. NOPD issued summons. Citizens need to continue to notify the city whenever dumping occurs.

Tires and trash in canals is building up. Ms. Lear said that citizens need to be reminded that motor oil dumped in storm drains goes to lake. June 11th is the next hazardous waste drop off day for the city. You can learn more at

Mr. Wise asked, “The Quality of Life officers are getting complaints?”
Ms. Lear said yes and the tire dumping is getting worse. She said that on Washington and North Johnson a truckload of 200 tires was dumped. She asked that citizens lease stay vigilant. A tire shop can only have 20 tires at one time. If they have more than that in the shop it’s a sure bet they are planning to dump them.

Sgt. Dupre, the Quality of Life officer in New Orleans East said he is getting calls about dumping from the Kenilworth area. Tires get pushed off in the middle of the night. Tires are getting dumped in more populated areas.

Mr. Wise asked Mr. Miles Granderson about sheriff sales. Mr. Granderson said the pipeline continues with a consistent review and acceptance of properties for sheriff’s sale. He met with Mr. Wes Bayas and the Sheriff’s office. Mr. Bayas and he will get together an ad for the next Sheriff sale and a pdf of properties available will be sent to neighborhoods.

Ms. Joyce Wilkerson suggested pooling resources for marketing efforts.
Ms. Brenda Breaux said, “Miles and Wes will send info to the neighborhood and community groups.”

Ms. Joyce Wilkerson suggested an education program for buyers about elevation requirements and the historic review process.

Ms. Brenda Breaux said potential buyers should also have information on how to get a clear title, etc

Mr. Wise asked, “Who runs the marketing for the Sheriff Sales? Eric Granderson said he does and that Wes will help.

Ms. Brenda Breaux stated, “Jeff and myself will serve as co-captains.”
Mr. Hebert noted that Wes and Miles have been designing everything.

Mr. Granderson continued and noted “one thing you’ll see we’ll be feeling out how often and when we should put properties up for sale to maximize outcome.”

Mr. Hebert asked, “How many hits do we get based on day of sale?”
Mr. Wise asked, “Are the sale addresses on the website?” Yes
Ms. Alice Martin said NORA and LLT closings are below target. A lot of issues with closings delayed due to financing. Purchase agreements are being terminated due to financing issues.

Ms. Joyce Wilkerson suggested a survey to find out what the issues are. People are dropping out. A sobering statistic due to lack of construction financing.

Mr. Wise – very sobering. What do you suggest?

Ms. Wilkerson – Announce the sale but announce the city’s rehab program at the same time.

Ms. Lear noted that construction loans are hard to get now.

Mr. Hebert stated that the City does not have enough money to help with the Sheriff sale process. He also stated that financing is an issue throughout the entire United States.

Ms. Alice Martin announced that her baby is due Sunday. Ms. Illarmo suggested that eating crawfish speeds up the process.

Questions from the audience:
Property viewer should allow the “look up” of properties. 311 to be launched in September. 311 will be the first interaction for contact to City.
Check 311 for status. Operators will check property viewer first.

Hearing dockets are not posted timely due to reporting problems with Accela. Ms. Illarmo said items since February still need to be posted.

Mr. Square said posting to the city’s website is a protracted and difficult process. I screamed silently… WHY? Posting to the city’s website should be as easy as making a WORDPRESS entry. Apparently it is not.

Ms. Brenda Breaux read an excerpt from a City Business article about 21 properties that are being homesteaded. The occupants have the intent to possess. In order to do it correctly, people need to pay outstanding taxes and liens to obtain properties – NOLA Redevelopment is one such homesteading organization attempting to acquire properties by simply squatting on them.

Mow to own? Report coming up.

Mr. Granderson noted that possession is NOT ownership.
Mr. Hebert inquired about the definition of possession.
Mr. Granderson said that during possession the person can use the property but the owner still owns the property.

Ms. Breaux noted that an acquisitive prescription has a 3 year requirement but only after the property has a blight judgment against it.
Go to to find out about fines on a property.
Ms. Illarmo noted that the City’s Treasury Department only posts online once each year so blight judgments may not show up.

Abandoned pools – drain it, fill it, cover it up.. Mr. Paul May

Please click here to view the BlightStat13 slideshow

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011 | May 5, 2011

One City That Shares One Fate

Good morning, thank you for being here. Thank you to Archbishop Aymond for today’s invocation. Thank you to the KIPP Renaissance band and Band Director Lionel Williams for their wonderful music. Thank you to our elected officials, and especially the City Council, whose partnership with us this past year has helped to lay the foundation for progress in the years ahead.

On Inauguration Day, nearly 365 days ago, we spoke about the challenges we must face together. We gave testament to the belief that there is nothing that cannot be fixed, no problem that cannot be solved. No divide that cannot be bridged. We are all one team. One fight. One voice. One city. We all agreed it begins with one single step.

We made a commitment to one another to stop thinking about the city we were and start building the city we want to become. A commitment to turn the page in our history. A commitment to come together, to find higher common ground, to reduce crime, to create jobs, to improve our schools, and to eliminate blight. Today, my optimism and faith is
unshaken. My belief in the people of New Orleans and this city’s destiny remains unchanged. We are one city that will share one fate.

With eyes wide open, we told you about the state of City Hall as we found it. A government mired in budget problems. NORD in shambles. Technology systems on the verge of collapse. A police department that too often failed to protect and to serve.

Decaying infrastructure. A water distribution system bleeding forty percent of its water. A Sewerage and Water Board power plant from a different age.

We let the sun shine in because I firmly believe that the people of New Orleans will rise to the challenge and work together to fix our city’s very real problems. Through hell, high water, and oil – and we’ve had our share of all three – we are charting a new and different course.

Today, the state of our city is stronger than it was one year ago. And, it will continue to get stronger each and every day.

But while our city is one with great hope, we must remain steadfast as we fulfill our promise to bestow upon our children a city better than that which was given to us. So that in 2018, on our 300th birthday, we can present to the world a new New Orleans. We will say that we are stronger, we are smarter and we are better than ever before. We will celebrate our 300th year as a world-class city.

As your Mayor, I am accountable for making the government work.
This responsibility does not inspire lofty rhetoric or political platitudes. We all see it in the seemingly small things that people expect and are often taken for granted. So when you wake up in the morning and the lights go on and warm water runs through the faucet, when you are on your way to work and the red light turns green, when the trash is picked up on time, when Mardi Gras and Super Sunday go off without a hitch and French Quarter Fest has record crowds, all of this reminds us in City Hall of why we are here. When we face the hard challenges and get things right, only then can we take pride in the work we have done. And today I want to take a moment to say thanks to our public employees for their dedication, especially to the police, firefighters and EMS medics who save lives every day.

In our first year, we plugged the holes, steadied the ship and have begun to lay the foundation for change and transformation. From day one, we took decisive action to live within our means and eliminated an $80 million budget deficit. We made government smaller by downsizing programs and cutting contracts. We renegotiated all three sanitation contracts saving millions, while adding recycling which will start next week.

We furloughed all city employees, including my top-level staff, effectively cutting our pay by ten percent. We took back 464 take home cars, reduced overtime and slashed hiring and travel expenses.

We promised you that our budget process would be different. Working together with every City Council member, we held community meetings across New Orleans, listened to what you said and funded what you asked for. And now we are delivering results.

In the first four months of 2011, we have already filled over 18,000 potholes, fixed over 3,000 streetlights. By the end of the year, we will have filled 30,000 potholes and fixed 16,000 streetlights. Miles of streets are being resurfaced from Crowder to Harrison, North Galvez to Magazine, St. Bernard Avenue to Berkley Drive.

We finally have a budget that is structurally sound, fiscally prudent and guided by the principles of cutting smart, reorganizing and investing in your priorities.

But the hangover from past budget practices still lingers. The city’s employee health plan racked up millions more in claims than had been projected last year. These costs will have to come out of this year’s budget. So yet again, we will ask every department in City government to get more efficient, to downsize, and to reduce costs. We will
continue to cut smart and reorganize for as long as it takes so that we can make the investments you all asked for in the budget process last year.

In our community meetings, you spoke loud and clear that your number one priority is public safety. On March 17th of this year, after inviting the Department of Justice to help reform the police department, they issued their findings on the practices of the old NOPD. It painted a chilling picture and called for major reforms. We will, and we must,
transform the NOPD into a department that fully protects each family and serves the entire community. We will do it willingly and we will do it swiftly.

We are not waiting for the consent decree to get to work. We immediately rolled out a comprehensive 65-point plan for reform. We took steps to revamp the Canine Unit and after six months, it is back up and running with the blessing of the Department of Justice. I’ve ordered Chief Serpas to have a plan on my desk for how to completely overhaul the police detail policy by May 15th.

And, just last month, Chief Serpas also named sixteen men and women to the new merit-based rank of Commander. They are committed to lead our department’s turnaround efforts. They will do whatever it takes and they will be held accountable.

They are here with us today. Please stand up and be recognized.

This is bigger than the police department. There is more cooperation at Tulane and Broad than ever before. We have begun to speak with one voice. I want to thank Sheriff Marlin Gusman, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton, the Judges from Criminal and Municipal Courts, and our federal partners, including the FBI, DEA and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Our efforts are beginning to
produce results but our work has only just begun.

To improve public safety we must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work with dignity and to provide for themselves and their families. And there’s good news on that front. In the last year, unemployment rates have remained lower than the national average and home values are up. We have welcomed hundreds of new jobs and over half a billion dollars in private investments from corporate leaders like Blade Dynamics, TCI, Folgers Coffee, and the Hyatt Regency. We launched the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative to provide $14 million in capital for grocery stores and supermarkets that will create jobs, promote healthy living and serve parts of the city that need it the most.
To grow the economy we created the NOLA Business Alliance, a historic public private partnership that will attract major businesses and retail to all areas of New Orleans, especially New Orleans East. The new CEO Rodrick Miller and members of the Board, led by Mr. Henry Coaxum, are with us today. Thank you for all your work.

At the same time, we all know that local businesses are the backbone of our economy.

To create a level playing field, in my first month in office I signed an executive order to completely reform the City contracting process and we hired the city’s first Chief Procurement Officer. And, we also hired a Supplier Diversity Director and I signed an executive order that immediately opened the doors of opportunity for hundreds more
Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

We hosted an Economic Opportunity Summit for over 500 local business leaders linking them to recovery projects across the city – the VA and University Medical Center, the Army Corps of Engineers and all of the school facilities work. Out of this summit, small business owners like Dwayne Bernal and his team at Royal Engineering learned about new opportunities, and now they manage the city’s streetlight program. City Hall will continue to leverage capacity within our own communities.

As we move forward on over 200 brick and mortar recovery projects, totaling over 800 million dollars, we will demand that the people of New Orleans be the ones who rebuild New Orleans.

The positive economic momentum is growing every day. Our cultural economy and tourism industry continue to thrive. More than one million revelers celebrated one of the biggest and safest Mardi Gras seasons the city has seen. Huge crowds came out for French Quarter Fest and we are gearing up for another amazing Jazz Fest, Zurich Classic, and Essence Festival.

New Orleans is one of the leading centers in the world for the intersection of culture and commerce. The cultural economy in New Orleans employs 12.5% of our workforce – 28,000 jobs – pays $1.1 billion in wages, drives our tourism industry, and nets $8.6 million in local sales taxes, contributing to the life of the city both culturally and economically.

Film is also becoming another major economic engine. In the last year, the city played host to 35 feature films that produced $360 million in revenue for the region. We have earned the nickname “Hollywood South” and, in just the past four months, we have already surpassed last year’s economic impact. At this very moment, nine more movies
are in production in your city.

With our new momentum, major financial players are starting to take notice. Goldman Sachs has chosen us as a site for the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. They are investing over $20 million to build capacity, to provide capital and to give our small business owners world-class development training. And it is all happening in partnership with Delgado and the Urban League – a model that will expand the pipeline of talent that will drive job creation.

New Orleans small business owners like Mr. Elbred Malone, owner of Malone Electric, are making a difference. With a sound financial plan and ideas for how to expand he is helping more families get back into their homes and is providing needed services to the community. Mr. Malone will support his family and Malone Electric will support New Orleans. The same is true for Ms. Mindy Hobley, owner of Ringletts Hair Salon, and Mr. Kendall Washington’s Safe Spot Pest Control. Every one of the thirty local, small businesses benefitting from this initiative – whether they are teaching kids martial arts or providing daycare for working parents – adds tremendous value and jobs to our community.

The Goldman Sachs class is here today and I would like to recognize their hard work and dedication to revitalizing our city. All of you please stand.

Meanwhile, the groundwork is being laid for a knowledge-based economy driven by re-emerging health and technology sectors. As a major first step, we started turning dirt at the Veterans Administration hospital, and last week, we broke ground on the University Medical Center in Mid-City. I will play a leading role in ensuring that we don’t rebuild what we had, but create a world-class 21st century research and academic health care center that will provide excellent care and thousands of quality jobs.

I want you to imagine what it will be like. Soon a mother who lives in Faubourg Lafitte, what used to be the old Lafitte Housing Development, will leave her beautiful new home on Orleans Avenue and Galvez and walk to her job as a med-tech – only six blocks away on Canal and Galvez. Her son will attend New Orleans Charter Science and Math
School and take classes at the same hospital where his mother works. He will go to college at Xavier, then medical school to become an oncologist and raise his family and work in the same, transformed neighborhood. And they will have dinner down the street at Dooky Chase or Willie Mae’s Scotch House. This is a sustainable community.
This is real place-based development. And it is happening over and over again.

But healthcare is not just happening downtown. In the first four months of my administration, we delivered on our promise, bought Methodist Hospital, saved $23 million, and have recently secured high-quality operators. The new hospital will be the anchor for our redevelopment efforts in New Orleans East. In the coming months, the urgent care facility will be complete and families in the East will no longer have to worry about a thirty-minute ambulance ride to the emergency room. My commitment to delivering a state-of-the-art hospital to New Orleans East is stronger than ever.

Finally, we led the effort to secure the funding needed to keep open our nearly 90 primary health care clinics that have served over 300,000 residents in the metro area that total over 1.2 million visits. Our clinics are a national model – they are affordable, accessible, and provide quality health care. Dr. Don Erwin and Mrs. Lona Edwards help run the St. Thomas Community Health Center on Magazine Street. At St. Thomas, uninsured mothers, wives and sisters can receive the care they deserve. They complete over 300 mammograms a month, which is vital to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. Thank you for your work.

And our City Health Department is now focusing on important public health challenges like childhood obesity and lead in our playgrounds.

Just as jobs and health care support the creation of a safe city, so will a quality recreation system. That is why we’ve committed almost $100 million to 60 recreation related projects. In the past year, we did what you asked us to do and doubled NORD’s budget. We created the NORD Commission, a public-private partnership that is raising the bar for recreation in our city. Our director Vic Richard and the NORD Commission are with us today. We thank them and Councilmembers Fielkow and Clarkson for their hard work.

And we look forward to this summer when our kids and our camps will have the resources they need. Last summer, only 500 kids learned how to swim in NORD pools.

This summer we will partner with the Red Cross to provide swimming lessons to more than 6,600 kids.

Last summer, there were only 8 pools open. This summer, there will be 12 pools open across the city.

Last year, only 1,600 kids enjoyed a summer at one of four city-run camps. This year, more than 4,600 kids will play, laugh and learn at 31 different camps across the city.

Last year, the summer jobs program served only 1,000 teenagers, but 700 were turned away because we ran out of slots. This year, we doubled the funding and 3,000 teenagers will now have the opportunity to work and learn.

This is more than a list of numbers. This is about families and communities. Jobs, schools and recreation are all important to creating a safer New Orleans. But abandoned houses are also part of the problem. If we want to fight crime, we also have to fight blight. In every community meeting we asked you, “When is the time to get serious about blight?” And everywhere we went, you told us, “The time is now!”

Blight threatens our home values, our quality of life, our culture and our public safety. Our aggressive blight reduction effort will eliminate 10,000 blighted properties over the next three years. So far, we’ve completed over 12,000 inspections and demolished over 500 blighted properties. We’ve dedicated millions of dollars in new city resources,
consolidated departments, and have created BlightStat to track our progress and troubleshoot problems. Now, residents like Mrs. Rita LeGrand of Lakeview can hold our feet to the fire.

The whole community is mobilized to help in this anti-blight effort. Nearly 600 volunteers have come out to help during our Fight the Blight days – from Sampson Park to the Cutoff Center, from Conrad Park to Hunter’s Field. At Taylor Park, residents brought me to a row of abandoned, blighted houses right across from a popular playground.

Like so many throughout our city, they sat untouched for years, left to rot by a deadbeat and irresponsible owner. Unbelievably, these properties were allowed to remain standing by a city review committee that actually insisted on stopping demolition. It didn’t make any sense. I left Taylor Park that day and at the request of the neighbors promised I would return. Within 60 days, we came back with a bulldozer and the neighbors cheered when we tore those houses down because those houses threatened their safety.

While we fight blight, we will protect our cultural identity. Preservation and progress can co-exist. To this end, we orchestrated the largest property relocation and restoration project in the city’s history, spending $10 million to save and rehab over 70 historic homes slated for demolition in the VA footprint. As we have done in the past, where it makes sense and is appropriate, where there is a plan and where there is funding, we will keep what is rich and beautiful. But when it comes down to protecting children and families, public safety will win every time. I invite the historic preservation community to partner with us to create plans, establish timelines, and secure additional financial resources to protect the cultural heritage of this city.

We now stand at a unique moment in our history. We are transforming the NOPD and creating jobs. We are rebuilding our schools and improving recreation. We are making health care more accessible and fighting blight. At the end of the day, by working together, we will cease to be a patchwork of blighted homes and decaying buildings.

Families and neighbors will come together at rebuilt playgrounds to watch our kids play in NORD baseball, soccer and football games. We will meet in the auditoriums of new schools to watch our children sing and dance. We will bring our children to Joe Brown Park in the East for swimming lessons and to Rosa Keller Library in Broadmoor to check out books to read together at night.

But while we have much to be proud of, there is still so much to do. This year we went one yard – the longest yard. We have 99 more yards to go and it will be tough the whole way. We are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way government works and relates to the private, faith-based and non-profit sectors. Government must get smaller and less costly, while delivering better results and creating better value. This year, it’s all about execution.

This year, we are going to make City Hall work better for you by streamlining the permitting process and improving customer service.

This year, we will get 3-1-1 back on line.

This year, we will reform the Civil Service system, which will give us the flexibility to hire and fire, give talented employees the chance to advance their careers and make sure you get the quality service you pay for.

This year, the Tax Fairness Commission will continue its work to ensure that our policies are equitable and everyone pays their fair share.

And this year, our 16 new auditors and revenue agents will aggressively enforce sales tax compliance so that everyone pays what they owe.

Taking action now is especially important in the area of infrastructure. The truth is that all of the progress in building parks, pools and playgrounds will be for naught if they are built upon a fragile foundation. The power plant at the Sewerage and Water Board is
nearly 100 years old. We need a minimal $200 million upgrade to make sure last fall’s “boil water advisory” never happens again. I am determined to ensure that our city will be compensated for its replacement.

In the coming years, over $13 billion in investments will hit the ground in the metro area as we repair our bridges, restore our airport, and rebuild our roads and our hospitals. $1.8 billion will go toward rebuilding the schools of New Orleans. In the past six months, the RSD (Recovery School District) and OPSB (Orleans Parish School Board) have broken ground at eight new schools in every part of the city – from Parkview in Gentilly to Frantz Elementary in the Ninth Ward. If we continue to build at this pace, we will spend up to $25 million every month on school construction. It’s worth the investment because the future of New Orleans will not be decided in the boardrooms on Poydras Street, but in classrooms across the city. Our children deserve a world-class education in world-class facilities.

We know that the path to creating a better New Orleans, a smarter New Orleans, a safer New Orleans, goes right through the schoolhouse door. We have the responsibility to give our children the chance to be artists, scientists and entrepreneurs. To be the builders of cities, the leaders of government, the innovators of tomorrow, the explorers of the unknown and the dreamers of new ideas.

Something special and unique is happening on the streets of your city. We are a city that holds our schools and teachers accountable for achieving results. We are a city where parents can choose where to send their kids to school. We are city that believes that all students, no matter their race or class, have the right to an excellent education.
In New Orleans, hope is hitting the streets.

Today, students from schools all over the city have joined us. Miller McCoy and Warren Easton. Gentilly Terrace, KIPP and Lusher are all in the house. All of these schools have different approaches. They have different stories and different histories. But they are all bound together by the singular desire to provide an excellent education. And this is all that matters.

At the end of the day, good schools are part of the solution and bad schools are part of the problem. Kids don’t think about whether or not they go to a charter school or a traditional school. They want to be at a school that is safe and has high expectations.

Kids don’t think about whether or not their teacher is a 30-year veteran or a first-year teacher in Teach for America. They want a teacher that believes in them and pushes them to achieve more than they ever knew was possible. And it is working. The achievement gap between students in New Orleans and students across the state has been cut in half. But we must push further and higher.

There is no question that our schools are coming back to local control. We will insist on it. This year, I will engage the community to rally around one vision and to speak with one voice to create a framework for K-12 education in New Orleans. The model that we agree on will hold fast to the principles of choice, transparency, equity, accountability
and excellence. Where these principles are manifest, you will find a great school. Our schools will be held responsible for delivering on their promises – they will be open and they will be accessible. They will continue to improve and they will serve all students.

They will offer more access to early childhood education and after school programming. And they will partner with colleges and universities. We have one chance to get this right.

I recently received letters from 8th graders at Miller-McCoy Academy, a charter school in New Orleans East. In one of the letters, Ozier wrote that many “black men turned to the streets, violence and drugs because they were losing interest in school.” He said if teachers were more like the ones at my school, our problems in New Orleans would disappear. Great teachers at great schools make so many problems disappear.

We are not rebuilding the city we were, we are creating the city we want to become. A city that prepares kids to compete globally. A city built upon a solid foundation. A city where neighborhoods and communities thrive. And most importantly, a safe city. A peaceful city.

At this moment, there is a battle being waged each and every day on the streets. It is the battle for the heart and soul of New Orleans. Last year, New Orleans had 175 murders. In the first four months of this year, there have been another 72.

By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, I will have likely received another message that says exactly the same thing: “Mr. Mayor, we are sorry to inform you that earlier this evening…police officers responded to gunshots…officers found young African American male …gunshots in the back of his head… announced dead on arrival.” There are no witnesses.

The death of young, African American men on the streets of New Orleans and throughout America, at the hands of other young, African American men is a national tragedy and a national shame. We lose over 13,000 Americans every year to violence and it’s the hardest thing to talk about. The fact remains – it is the single most important issue facing our city. A whole generation of young people is being lost to the streets.

Too many lives taken too early. Too many families bearing too much pain. The relentlessness of the killing has made us numb to the reality.
But, we cannot ignore it. We have to face it head on. We will respond to crime and murder the same way we respond to a catastrophic hurricane or a homeland security threat. We will be relentless and we will be focused. And we will coordinate our efforts.

This is the model – prevention, intervention, interdiction, prosecution, rehabilitation, and re-entry – we will initiate a comprehensive and collaborative response to the emergency.

Today, I’m announcing that this effort will be led by our new Criminal Justice Commissioner – Mr. James Carter. A well-respected member of the community, tireless advocate for justice, former councilmember and lawyer, Mr. Carter will have a single directive – coordinate all efforts throughout the criminal justice system and community to reduce murder and crime. We thank him for being with us here today.

I am also announcing the launch of the Mayoral Strategic Command. The Strategic Command will be the City’s War Room to combat murder. The Commissioner will serve as a partner alongside other key leaders as we tackle this issue at the highest level. Our mission is clear – change the culture of death and violence on the streets of New Orleans to a culture of peace and safety and security. But, this is only part of the answer.

In the coming weeks, we will convene the reconstituted Criminal Justice Council, which will coordinate with those already leading the charge on the ground. We will be tough and we will be smart. We will continue to improve training for our police and put more cops in the community. We will work harder to get illegal guns off the streets. We will partner with the FBI, DEA and Department of Justice. We will enlist the help of
neighborhood groups and faith-based leaders.

And we can do more. Change will not just come from the top down on this one. We need all hands on deck. Cops and judges, teachers and coaches, business people and clergy, brothers and sisters, parents and families. And now, it involves you. Each and every one of you.

Murder in New Orleans is a public health epidemic that threatens our entire city and everyone needs to help find solutions that work. I am calling on everyone – from every neighborhood across this city – to join me this summer at the City’s first “Crime Action Network” summit. Show up and speak out. Come to listen to each other and to learn
from each other. Come to create an action plan for how to address this problem that touches us all. And most importantly, be prepared to get to work.

This will not be a summit full of false hope and unfulfilled promises. This summit is about action. We must be united. We cannot back down. Enough is enough.

When will we see that every life has value? That every murder kills a piece of us all? And yet we allow it to repeat – over and over and over again. We cannot continue to allow our future to be torn apart from the inside out by an endless cycle of death, destruction, and violence. Every murder is one murder too many. Each one has a ripple effect that touches us all.

In February, a 17-year-old was shot to death in the 7th Ward. The same weekend, a 19-year-old was killed by a man with an assault rifle. Earlier that month a 15-year-old was killed in the East. Another 15-year-old was shot dead in Holy Cross in January. And in September, someone gunned down a 16-year-old. All teenagers. All from the same school.

In the last year, the students of John McDonogh High School have buried five friends and classmates. There will be no graduation celebrations for the families of these young men as they are left to wonder what might have been. And they will not walk across the stage to receive diplomas because each and every one is in their grave.

New Orleans, this begins and ends with us. In Genesis Chapter 4, Verse 9, God asks Cain where his brother has gone. Cain responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” For too long, we have failed to live up to the moral obligation embodied in this question. We have failed to embrace the belief that no one should be left behind. That out of many, we are one.

Take a look around. Look at the faces of the young students here with us today. With our support, our guidance and our love, you are looking at our future doctors and engineers, nurses and teachers, mothers and fathers. The next Chief of Police and the next Mayor of New Orleans. The ones who will take care of us, our children and our city when our time has passed.

Or, if we choose to be blind and fail to see that all of our lives are intimately woven together, then these students may have difficult paths ahead. Ones that will be filled with obstacles and challenges as they struggle to find the right way on their own. Lives that, at this moment are full of promise, will become lives full of pain. We see it on the
streets, in our churches, schools and homes everyday.

Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes. Yes I am. I have to be. We have to be. We share this responsibility. We must turn this around together.

New Orleans, for too long, we have been waiting. Waiting for someone to pick us up, waiting for someone to help us out. But, we can’t wait any longer. We must proclaim together that New Orleans is no longer a city that hope forgot, but now is a city of infinite possibilities. We are limited only by our imagination and our willingness to work hard.

There is no doubt that it will be difficult. But it is because of our resilience and sheer will to do whatever it takes, that we have a chance. One moment in the arc of history to create something special. So that upon our beloved city’s 300th Anniversary, we will celebrate. Rejoicing in the knowledge that New Orleans came together to do what is
difficult for the sake of what is right.

And, when confronted with the fires of violence and poverty and distrust, we refused to yield. We refused to back down. We will be ones who walked through the flames and found ourselves unbowed and unbroken. United and proud.

One team. One fight. One voice. One city. One future. Let’s get back to work. Thank you and God bless the City of New Orleans.

BlightStat 12

Article and photo by Charlie London

Click here to view a PDF of the
April 21, 2011 BlightStat presentation slides

This was the twelfth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.

Ms. Brenda Breaux began the meeting and spoke about NOLA Redevelopment, a company who is attempting to improperly use the acquisitive prescription process on Bellaire Drive in Lakeview.

Ms. Breaux outlined the acquisitive prescription process. Some of the details include fencing of the property, public notification of intent to acquire, and a sign on the property noting the intent to acquire. Ms. Breaux noted NOLA Redevelopment is in violation and the city is considering legal action.

Ms. Cynthia Sylvain Lear urged those residents who have yet to sign up for curbside recycling to do so immediately. 5,000 recycling cars have been delivered and recycling pickup is schedule to begin May 2nd.

No storage? You can use the old blue bins but you still have to register so they know where to pick up. Ms. Lear indicated the recycling program will yield cost savings for the city. For more information or to register for recycling pickup, please visit the City’s website at this link —> For those who prefer to do business by phone please call (504) 658-3800 to register for recycling pickup.

Inspections. Mr. Winston Reid announced that most of the problems preventing forward movement have been solved. He further stated that Code Enforcement personnel are “ in rhythm” with old cases and new cases . Covering sweeps. Concentrating sweeps around blight and marketable areas. Safe zones.. schools and a 5 block radius around schools. Demolition inspections. Feels comfortable that they have hit rhythm.

Mr. Oliver Wise indicated that the backlog report is currently unavailable due to IT problems. He further stated that the Geopin system in effect but not working presently. IT problems continue to thwart progress. Geopin is better than address but a technological failure is preventing progress.

Mr. Allen Square – Accela is randomly assigning geopin. Part of the problem is data entry.

Mr. Winston Reid indicated backlog is being aggressively worked and that his team has worked around technical difficulties.

Mr. Andy Kopplin – The new system is an easier system but didn’t work. Will be returning to old system until problem is fixed which will slow the process.

Mr. Oliver Wise stated that duplicate addresses are hurting efficiency. Different case numbers assigned to same address. Intake Mgr to address – could be data entry problem or technical problem.
CEHB – new case type was duplicating another case code. Ms. Kristin Illarmo said this feature is useful as the CEHB outcome leads to hearing. Road Home cases don’t go to adjudication so it won’t have CEHB.

Sweeps and complaints are overlapping so duplicate case numbers get assigned. – Kristin Illarmo

Inspection scheduling to help reduce duplicate assignments. Mr. Allen Square stated a formal address layer with drop down tabs should help prevent duplicates. Mr. Square mentioned this at the last meeting as well noting that the feature will be available some time in the future.
Ms. Illarmo added that wireless entries can help with duplicates if feature is used.

Mr. Reid suggested that the address should pull up as you type. Computer system is slowing report process. System is not efficient. When the system says the report is successful, the inspector moves on to the next property but sometimes the report is not successful. This results in inspectors having to inspect properties multiple times.

Mr. Jeff Hebert asked that inspectors log problems and send them in.
Hearings. Ms. Illarmo noted her team is still encountering challenges. Staff adjustments have been made to streamline the“factory”. Personnel changes as well.

Ms. Illarmo further noted that the coming weeks should show improvement in the number of hearings. Notice of hearing and notice of judgment IS working in the system as of yesterday. She mentioned that there is an extra level of review when reports don’t work. Reports, letters, and notices have to be done by hand when the system doesn’t work. Reports had to be changed due to merger of the Code Enforcement Department and the Environmental Health Department. Names and types of reports had to be changed. Accela generates a report when it works.

Silver lining to challenges– staff changes will allow major streamlining . Additional clerical help will help move process along. Mr. Hebert and Mr. Square worked together to help solve problems in the system.

Ms. Illarmo further stated that her team is creating a new work flow in Accela due to the department consolidation and this put the process behind. The goal was March 31st but has not happened yet.

Mr. Square – reports for work we were doing. Accela Vice President was present at the request of the city and is committed to getting the system working properly.

Mr. Russell Ardon – IT dept – The Accela system was generating the wrong info. The Accela team was collecting the wrong specs for reports. They have since been fired and a new team is generating specs – Accela team was generating specs for reports.

Mr. Square – Was this a data mapping issue?

A representative from Accela noted that the previous Accela team skipped steps and did not thoroughly test. He further noted that of the 12 reports in question, 9 have been fixed and they are vigorously working on the last 3 which should be in production by the end of today. “Process discipline to fix process” – Dave Margalett VP for Accela

Accela has been around since 2003. Mr. Wise inquired about the missing backlog from hearings. Asked why?

Ms. Illarmo said report doesn’t exist yet – is in test form but not yet in production.

Mr. Wise asked, “Accela is capable of generating backlog report?”

Ms. Illarmo – yes – mentioned that multiple entries by people are adding to problem – internal training issue . Inspectors are opening a sweep case when the case should not be opened at all because it has already been inspected. Accela should not accept a duplicate entry.

Mr. Wise noted that user and training are issues. A crummy list is better than no list. Ms. Illarmo – we are using the system.

Mr. Andy Kopplin – is that one of the 3 problem reports? Kristin – NO – staffer is helping with Accela reporting problems. We can all meet to devise what is the best way to attack the problem.

Mr. Andy Kopplin – “The IT problems are uninspiring and deeply frustrating” Everything depends on the effectiveness of our tool. We are stressing Accela’s resources. Accela fired previous people and now have a new team. The City is pressuring the contractor to get it right. Headache for everyone. Accela is committed to making it work.

A gentleman in the audience made a testimonial for Accela and indicated he was in Code Enforcement for 14 years.

Mr. Andy Kopplin – both City and Accela want the process to improve. There was a 3 week crash of the system.

The Mayor is putting pressure on departments to get organized and moving.

Ms. Kristin Illarmo– lot of conditional guiltys and ” work in progress” resets – partner to produce less guilty judgments.

Mr. Hebert – stats may indicate people are trying to bring properties into compliance.

Demolitions. Mr. Carrere gave the shortest report of the day which lead to applause from the audience. He simply stated, “There is an uptick in demolitions and we are going in the right direction.”

Mr. Reid noted that properties are moving through pipeline quicker. Members of Code Enforcement are working with the contractor and meetings taking place often. Mr. Hebert is asking for the process to move along.

Ms. Alice Martin – NORA demo – LLT doing demolitions.

Mr. Wise – pipeline – increase of 43 for new guilty judgments. Historical review denied 200 of 600 demolitions this bi-weekly period. 70 or so cases removed from the demo program for various reasons.

Mr. Wise read the stats on strategic demo status.

Mr. Reid noted that the City is demolishing a lot of commercial properties due to people complaining that they don’t want to bring their businesses into blighted commercial areas.

Mr. Hebert introduced Dean Wolcott and Dean McAller of FEMA. FEMA has approved properties for demolition. 910 properties available with FEMA funding to demolish. 90 are exempt from historic review because they are not in historic districts – doing those first. There will be a notice in the Times Picayune newspaper next week notifying property owners. Demos to start June 1st.

Others to go thru NCDC and HDLC – as final judgments get passed more will get demolished.

Mr. Hebert – working on commercial properties in New Orleans East. Would like FEMA to take care of these as they should have previously.
Mr. Wise– FEMA trailers remaining – Paul May noted as of April 13, 2011, 145 FEMA trailers remain to be picked up. Goal is 50 every two weeks. Trailer hearing docket not on website. Is supposed to go up today.

Ms. Breaux noted that new Hearing Officers will be approved by the City Council May 2nd – should be working by May 25th.

Lot clearings – Mr. Keith Ferralou – moving along.

Mr. Read – public relations – Need signs in areas being worked by Code Enforcement noting code enforcement is here. Encourages people to get their properties fixed up.

Sheriff’s sales – Mr. Myles Granderson stated that 60 is the number of petitions to be filed each bi-weekly period. Starting this week Tyler and
Mr. Myles Granderson are responsible for getting files ready. The work for Ms. Brenda Breaux and Mr. Channing Warner. Focusing sheriff sale properties around 5 block radius of schools and parks. Hoffman Triangle folks fixing up after code enforcement sweep and sheriff sale.

“Better quality information is getting to the legal department” – Mr. Andy Kopplin

Mr. Granderson stated that on starting June 2nd 20 properties will be available for sale. 28 set for 14th Significant amount going to Sheriff sales.

Mr. Breaux reiterated the policy concerning blighted properties purchased via Sheriff sale– 90 days after the sale the property is inspected. Sherriff sales are in the Times Picayune newspaper. Ms. Breaux noted that the Legal Department is working with the Office of Neighborhood Engagement so neighborhoods will know what properties are available.

2nd hour of sheriff sales to be dedicated to City of NO properties.

Some people are paying the liens to keep the property from going to Sheriff sale, but not necessarily fixing the property.

Mr. Hebert – Does the Sheriff post signs on the property? Can the city do that? Need notice on property.

Ms. Lear noted that neighbors are still talking about the signs put up for the last Sheriff sale indicating that advertising on the properties does work.

Mr.Reid asked if a deposit based on the value to fix blighted property could be assessed when the property purchased at a Sheriff sale? Those that don’t fix the property would then lose their deposit.

Mr. Granderson indicated that the City cannot legally do that presently.
Mr. Alice Martin- NORA reducing backlog on closings.

94 NORA properties put up at auction. Most sold above appraised value. A few did not sell and NORA is working with high bidders to get properties moving. Mostly individuals who purchased at the auction. Inspected 90 days then 270 to make sure work is in progress. 86 sold.

Mr. Kopplin noted that the handholding days are over. Purchased NORA properties will be inspected and put back into Code Enforcement if they do not comply.

Ms. Alice Martin noted that NORA has the Right of Reversion if the purchaser does not comply. Individuals at the auction were mostly interested in properties with structures .

Mr. Kopplin noted that NORA cleaned the properties for sale and picked the best properties to sell in the most active real estate markets.

Ms. Alice Martin noted that it was purposeful auction. NORA targeted the properties that had the most inquiries and that were located in the strongest real estate market.

Mr. Kopplin – how fast is market going to rebound . Work with Jeff. Jeff said Alice and he were working on strategy to get properties sold just last night.

Mr. Brad Vogel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation asked, “Will the city seek donations for historic properties?” Ms. Breaux said, “the City doesn’t want to be in the business of managing real estate”. The City’s Property Management Department does leases for the city and manages city occupied property but not residential properties.

Michelle Thompson, an Assistant Professor of Planning and Urban Studies at UNO asked if the city will provide a summary of properties sold at auction for the 86 properties sold at the recent aucton. Ms. Thompson has been working on a data mapping project at the University of New Orleans for over 5 years. The project can be seen at

A card submitted by a member of the audience inquired, “What is the breakdown of ownership of the 43,000 remaining properties… How many does the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) own? * 325 * The Louisiana Land Trust owns another 3,900.

If the property is blighted and we have a judgment of blight we move to Sherrif sale. – Ms. Breaux

Mr. Hebert noted that neighborhoods are asking for a maintenance program on blighted properties.

A card from the audience noted that NCDC denies a lot of demos. Mr. Carrere said NCDC does move stuff along. In a recent meeting several LLT demos ended in a “no action” vote. All will go to City Council on appeal.

200 of 600 properties in this biweekly period were denied under review (NCDC HDLC SHPO)

Another card from the audience asked, “SOAP1 properties given to 501c3’s but not fixed up. What to do?” Ms. Breaux will investigate.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, May 5, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011

BlightStat 11

Photo and article by Charlie London

This was the eleventh BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.

The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.

Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.

Please click here to view the April 7, 2011 BlightStat presentation.

The meeting started with an announcement of “Walk the Block” which is taking place April 9th from 9 am until 2 pm. This Jerico Road Episcopal Housing initiative aims to survey property conditions in the Central City area.

The Code Enforcement library was also announced. You can check it out at: Ms. Kristin Illarmo stated the goal is to have the Code Enforcement library updated every two weeks.

Code enforcement inspections were up this reporting period due to a full staff being present according to Mr. David Grunberg, Field Supervisor for Code Enforcement. Mr. Winston Reid was unable to attend this meeting.

Mr. Grunberg noted that some pictures and reports are being rejected by the Accela system when code inspectors enter them. Mr. Doug Leper noted that the laptops seem to be the problem. He stated that “false rejections” are being tracked to find out whether the problem is the Accela system or the user. Mr. Leper indicated that the ability to geocode properties as they are entered into the system may be in the system some time in the future.

He also stated that complaints are supposed to be assigned to an inspector at the time of the intake call. Ms. Nadine Fletcher is the manager of intake calls. Calls are being tracked by time of day, area reported and more.

One problem is that duplicate compaints on the same property are being assigned to multiple inspectors working the same area. The reason appears to be the way intake operators enter the address. One may enter Esplanade and the other enters Esplanade Avenue. The system shows this as two different addresses.

Mr. Allen Square indicated that eventually the intake operators will have a drop down list of all the streets in New Orleans on their computer screen. Additional training may be necessary.

Ms. Kristin Illarmo indicated that hearing counts are down. She said there will be hearing officer training on May 2nd and the hearing officers will be sworn in the same day. Ms. Brenda Breaux indicated that there will be 27 hearing officers so the amount of hearings should go up significantly.

Mr. Andy Kopplin noted that preparation for hearings is a huge task. He asked Ms. Illarmo for a plan to coordinate preparation so that resources could be allocated.

Ms. Illarmo indicated that case counts are down due to a change in policy and that one case with 78 properties was counted as one. She indicated that there will be follow-up training on depositions for hearings.

Mr. Hillarie Carrere indicated that the 1st large apartment complex on Curran Place in New Orleans East has been demolished. The 2nd large apartment complex to be demolished is on Alcee Fortier drive off of Chef Hwy. He indicated that the historical review requirement seems to be the bottleneck to getting properties demolished.

157 FEMA trailers remain in the city. Mr. Paul May broke the numbers down by Council District with District D (51) and District E (38) having the most FEMA trailers that still need to be removed.

Environmental Health inspections of lots appears to be working. More lots are being cut and are in compliance. This may change as the summer growing season approaches.

Ms. Cynthia Sylvain Lear indicated that the Sanitation Department has been working the 9th Ward, Uptown, and Algiers. They picked up 476 tires this reporting period and have picked up 5,000 tires since January 1, 2011. She further indicated that the 1st District Quality of Life officer has been very active and has helped close down tire operators who do not have manifests showing where tires were disposed.

Ms. Lear also mentioned the Keep New Orleans Beautiful program. She is the Director of this operation as well. Ms. Lear indicated that grants are available for beautification and recycling. She announced too that volunteers are needed for the litter index which is needed to get New Orleans certified with the Keep America Beautiful campaign.

Mr. Channing Warner talked about Sheriff Sales and noted that of 267 files, 60 have been selected for Sheriff sale. The properties are put up for auction at 2/3rds of the appraised value. He noted that 4941 Sherwood would be going up at $40,000 and 5425 North Derbigny would have an initial auction price of $5,000.

Ms. Joyce Wilkerson stated that NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) sold 3.5 million dollars worth of property at a recent auction where 94 properties were sold. There was a large turnout with a great cross section of regular folks in addition to professional real estate buyers. Ms. Lear indicated the auction was “standing room only”.
Ms. Alice Martin indicated that better education for potential buyers may be needed. Ms. Wilkerson indicated that properties bought at auction must be closed on in 30 days with construction significantly completed within 365 days. The exterior of the property must be code compliant within 90 days of the purchase. Mr. Oliver Wise requested a report on the buyers at the auction.

Ms. Brenda Breaux met previously with Mr. Jeff Hebert and Mr. Doug Leper about strategic Sheriff sales.

New Orleans’ Fight Against Blight appears to be moving in the right direction.

The next BlightStat meeting will take place Thursday, April 21st at 8 a.m on the 9th floor of the Amoco Building at 1340 Poydras Street.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (every 2 weeks)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHEN: Thursday, April 21, 2011
8:00-9:30 AM CST

WHERE: 1340 Poydras Street
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117

BlightStat Meetings
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 |
March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011