Week in Review, Nov. 16-20: Parklets, Plastics and (No) Parades
NEW ORLEANS – Here, from staff and wire reports are the week’s biggest headlines:
No Orleans Parades
New Orleans has officially banned 2021 Mardi Gras parades due to coronavirus health concerns. The news went viral after the city posted the information on its official website with little fanfare. Leaders of several Carnival krewes expressed frustration with the lack of communication beforehand although others have expressed support for the city’s plans. A city spokesperson said the news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s been paying attention to 2021 Carnival plans and the latest COVID-19 trends. “Let me be clear: Mardi Gras 2021 is not cancelled but it’s going to look different.” … In related news, Carnival Cruise Line has notified guests and travel agents that it has cancelled all cruises out of New Orleans through February and the Fair Grounds Race Course will open its season with spectators.
The Central Business District has its first official “parklet.” The Pythian Market Food Hall at the corner of Gravier Street and Loyola Avenue in the CBD is the first to unveil its new outdoor dining area, made from converted parking spaces, thanks to a $2,000 grant from the City’s Parklet Pilot Program. “The city provided the barriers for us and donated some lights for the project,” said Pythian managing director Michael DePaolo. “We used the grant money for extra decor and furniture and things like that. We wanted to make sure our guests would be comfortable on a main road and also maximize space.”
Sales Tax Holiday
Louisiana shoppers will see state sales taxes suspended for two days in November, under a bill passed by lawmakers in their latest special session and signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican, sponsored the measure to help residents and businesses recovering from Hurricanes Laura and Delta and coping with the coronavirus pandemic. … Not everybody likes the idea.
Plastics Complex on Hold
The Army Corps of Engineers has suspended its permit for a Chinese conglomerate’s $9.4 billion plastics complex on a technicality but says it may also review other aspects of the permit. The notice filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., did not mention the environmental and environmental justice claims made in a challenge to the permit for a complex of 10 chemical plants and four other major facilities.
Biotech Startup Earns ‘Breakthrough Device’ Designation
Biotech startup Chosen Diagnostics announced that the US Food & Drug Administration has designated its NECDetect product as a ‘Breakthrough Device.’ A spinout of LSU Health, Chosen Diagnostics works to develop diagnostic platforms for gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases in babies and children. Through noninvasive measures, NECDetect will be used to identify necrotizing enterocolitis, a gastrointestinal disease primarily seen in preterm infants.
Richmond to Join White House Staff
Sources familiar with President-Elect Joe Biden’s initial decisions confirmed Monday that campaign co-chair Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond will play a senior role in the new administration. Richmond will leave his Louisiana congressional seat to fill the White House job.
UNO’s Tuition Promise
Starting in the fall 2021 semester, the University of New Orleans has promised to fill the unmet financial need for tuition and fees of eligible Jefferson Parish students. This marks the expansion of a program that was piloted in January for Orleans Parish students. The “Privateer Pledge” now applies to both Jefferson and Orleans Parish residents who graduate from a public or private high school in the parish.
NOLA Boards Opens New Flagship Store on Magazine
Owner Mandy Simpson and business partner/husband Daren Sumrow have announced the opening of their new NOLA Boards flagship store at 4228 Magazine Street. The NOLA Boards product line includes custom hand-crafted cutting boards, countertops and dining furniture. “It’s quite an expansion for us. We really envision this space as being interactive and educational about all the different woods we offer,” said Simpson.
BGR Says No to Property Tax Propositions
In a new report, the Bureau of Governmental Research – a private, nonprofit government watchdog – analyzes three separate propositions to replace several property taxes that will expire at the end of 2021. Based on its analysis, BGR has taken a position against all three propositions that are up for a Dec. 5 vote.