City Councilmembers Propose New Hard Rock Investigation

Photo by Rich Collins

NEW ORLEANS – City Council Vice President Jason Williams proposed the creation of a temporary special committee of the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee to investigate last October’s partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel at Rampart and Canal streets.

“I truly hoped that the early initial investigations into the circumstances surrounding the Hard Rock collapse, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inquiry, would have produced desperately needed answers by now,” said Williams in a statement. “I am disappointed at the pace. Out of respect for the other ongoing inquiries, I originally thought it best to wait for other formal investigations to proceed. It is now abundantly clear that we as a city can no longer delay action on this matter.

Williams said there is a precedent for a local investigation occurring at the same time as others.

Meanwhile, City Council President Helena Moreno released her own statement calling for justice for the victims’ families and stressing the need for additional safeguards to prevent future disasters.

“I stand firm with the people of New Orleans that there should be justice for those who perished in the collapse. For that reason, Councilmember Williams and I strongly spoke out against the deportation of Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma. He was injured during the disaster and may have had information pertinent to the investigation.”

Moreno said the Council will plan a committee hearing soon with help from Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district contains the Hard Rock site.

The office of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a terse response to the council members’ statements.

“Investigation into this incident will be handled by the appropriate law enforcement authorities within the judicial system,” said Cantrell spokesman Beau Tidwell. “City legislators have no role in that process.”

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