WWL>Topics>>4-28-14 2:10pm Angela: on St. Bernard Parish

4-28-14 2:10pm Angela: on St. Bernard Parish

Apr 28, 2014|

Angela gets an update on St. Bernard Parish from councilmen Ray Lauga, Jr., and Casey Hunnicutt.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

The president as we were talking about the president of ups and in our parishes we were discussing an hour earlier show. Has been charged with one count of sexual battery against his wife and again it's been a story that's been in the news for months. Dave parole his wife accused him of marital rape the grand jury sent down one charge of felony sexual battery. April that denies the charge. But there are those who think he should step down as president of the perished including three parish councilman. Who are going to join us today to talk about why they think he should leave office were forced trial. Not to talk about it from saint Bernard parish. As wheat and also on start to talk about saint Bernard parish. We love on this radio show to get to know our neighborhoods and our parishes. And -- that we haven't had saint Bernard parish is astounding to me so we're delighted to also be talking about that is well this much obviously has happened since the storm. Here to talk about all of this is. -- logon. And Casey Honeycutt. And Don mcginnis was going to be here at the last minute could not that I appreciate him sending his information and we will definitely get some of his questions in. But to both of you to rate in casing. Sort of what motivated you to think about. Saying to -- the parish president should step down. You know for six months you know we've been hand in this and in the media and news and I'm. We have tried to you know we were just trying to let things run their course and and hopefully this could be resolved but obviously it hasn't and it's been escalated. And so with the young with the grand jury indictment. And it's it's like come on no it's a personal issue and it's a legal issue. But at some point you know it is has gotten larger than just a personal legal issue. And it's it's like if you had if you had a personal problems. And it was affecting your job we perform mature employee would step in and say hey you need to take a leave of absence on May be his best -- in effect in the company's. You know calm efficiency whatever and and that's where -- got -- point plus you know I have a I've represented those employees -- employed. Myself and president -- the and you know we didn't let it run its course not not being vocal about it but at some point -- represented as people wanna have to put that issue. In front of them and and we did -- that'd -- tons of people and asking us. He needs to resign you know it's reflecting poorly so we put that in statement and we put out there. And you agreed adjustments that -- Here. You know it is it's a very awkward. A difficult. Position to take but you're saying that your constituents are saying. It is time for him to step aside for awhile until the case is over yet. We've been here in the calls we've been here in the calls for our effort like race at six months and you know just I believe that. After the indictment it was time for us to step up as leaders of this parish and lead the Packers. Has anybody said you know what he'd get to stay in court just going to let him get -- stay in court. We agree with I mean we agree president at some point and its effect on job performance. -- happen at least say some panel recommends that. -- we're not we're not trying to clean guilt or innocence here you know where where solely focused on saint Bernard parish continuing it's successful port. And you know and we just don't think the current situation is. Conducive to that. Lynch who when this -- first hit what were you. Just shocked. Yes obviously me now is is in disbelief at first you know you don't expect out of him. You are -- in and highest office and in Saint Bernard government you know leader. The representative of saint Bernard parish I mean it's just devastating when when it first came out and I was in disbelief myself. As time moved on though you felt the effects. Affecting the parish government yes I mean obviously united work all around town and you know it's you know taken my fascia ribbing and and all that because of it. But it does it reflect poorly on peep from saint for a passion I'm sure. Just like all the other citizens of Saint Bernard you know when I go outside and have contact with people outside. It's a topic of competent come on conversation and it's an uncomfortable -- in a topic to talk about it. To save at least -- -- when we're sitting at the table we have large companies corporations trying to get them to move to Saint Bernard or. A real estate agents are trying to sell houses so that individuals from outside of the Paris and bring them into Saint Bernard so they can enjoy what we've what we've been enjoying for so long. That's something that they have to contend with. No it's just that's that's a question that comes up every time we're at that the business table with a large company trying to get them that to relocate the Saint Bernard. Is what's going on with your politics what's going on to -- president you know because -- companies like stability and this you know this isn't stable situation. You bring up a very good point about that now when you. So this to mr. Peralta he just collection now on staying in office. Yet we we chose just to put a statement out and I know through the media with her -- he's not resign and that that's his right you know but we felt compelled to represented people who have. Who have come and tell us with the system to pass that message along and that's what we did. Well you brought a very good point that saint Bernard parish is coming back has been coming back. And you are trying to get companies to come in and and hopefully your realistic let's talk a little bit about where you -- where are you population wise. On -- on the -- judges said it was 60% but I think around 45 to 49000. At this point. And what were you prior we were 7270000. You know I know that a lot of people -- and -- move to the North Shore did some of them come back. Some of them have it's very difficult from my home my aunts and uncles cousins we all live right -- -- -- -- I would see almost all of my. Immediate relatives on a weekly basis and that was great growing up. NN since the storm you know some of them had to relocate to an all sure you know just out of necessity. Well you know the kids in school the grand kids are in school. You know so it's hard to pull them up in and get them the move back down even know and they'd love to. But it's just really difficult the other thing too is that on people bought real estate now houses on the high end. Right after the storm when prices were accelerated. Then you have the housing you know decrease in property guys and housing you know nationwide so now a lot of these people upside down and mortgage so financially. They're locked in you know for some time until they can you know get from upside down and mortgage. Well Angela what's neat is that we're seeing a trend here because at 60%. Population pre Katrina right now. We we are approaching pre Katrina levels of students in school and public school -- and -- So we're seeing is a very younger demographic that has young kids. That's I mean that's an amazing -- 60% of the population and you're still the same level pre Katrina. And schooled in a school systems on -- they're ranked eleventh at a 69 according to our council for foreign about a Louisiana. To put that in perspective. Jefferson Parish is ranked 42. Out of 69 and local school districts and we're ranked eleventh. You know I think and another thing that attracts. The the young people to -- an -- at Saint Bernard school school district is one of the only school districts in the state that offers four year old program. So people can come Saint Bernard to have young kids you don't have to worry about providing. -- a child care to a four year old because you could -- -- them in the early program. On the issue of real estate hopefully have those prices been kept reasonable because of the young people are moving hand. That may be one of the reasons the good schools and reasonable. Revolting for myself -- on -- -- ready to turn 27 I don't like to admit -- two point seven million motivate twenty something hands that it only seven and down. My wife and I bought a house in 2010. We purchased it for 80000 dollars. Last year it was appraised at a 120000. Dollars so within two to three years 50% in that my property value increase them much. And I do believe that when I bought property values well you know and there's still relatively low compared to the -- area. So that's that's a good thing we have going in that direction so you know -- an -- offers that appreciation. And if you if you purchase right now your homes and appreciate in value where -- -- -- surrounding area everybody's already kind of topped out. Growing at 1% a year we're growing at ten to 15%. Behind and I could tell you in short term. On vacant lots Tom we had a lot next to a program and hit an independent appraisal done that was required for the purchase. And we have lots of fifty by -- hundred at worst appraising for. Between five and 6000 dollars when we just had a public auction about two weeks ago and that same size -- it was on average selling for 101000 dollars we had -- That number on the sofa significantly more. But the overall average is about 101000 also just an immediate and you'll pay if she if you're seeing a 50% increase and -- -- just a vacant lot property that. Stay with the second one were talking saint Bernard parish I'll be right back. Our guest today rate Lanka and Casey Honda cut both. Saint Bernard parish councilman. Short of giving us an update on on all the this happened since the storm. He had some astounding numbers when you talk about 60% of the population that you're pretty much act where you work. School -- that thing that the people who back our younger. People and that's wonderful. People starting hopefully to build -- I love the program you have. About the option and the building. They'll listen to this if if you missed this this is. Putting on my god what an opportunity to build a home or via com. Say it again 60000. Dollars. Soft -- 60000 dollars taught second mortgage that if your first time home buyer disappears if you stay in the house for five years. That this tremendous. That is a tremendous offer and I believe our partners -- -- first NBC and also Gulf Coast and yes you know but what an encouraging thing. For somebody who really wants to be a homeowner to have them live their five year 60000. Wiped away beautiful and then also have in the you know heaven is does peace of mind knowing that you have our flight system protecting your investment. We have 23 miles floodwall that was constructed around Saint Bernard post-Katrina. Now with this has done is the proposed and a five. That you know every one of up to Washington DC a lot of my -- insurance. It pretty insurance saint Bernard parish in areas they re represents in north in and balking at Illinois. We have areas that had twenty feet of floodwater. That are gonna beings no they're gonna go from -- -- -- to a season. So in a season when you're not required to have -- charts. But ultimately you're gonna -- we're gonna go back to have -- base flood elevation had to deal that pre Katrina we're going to be very close that because of the improvements in the flood protection. 23 miles. Yes look if you got a scene is structurally built I'm in construction is very impressive I mean it is. So you are very confident that if god forbid we got another horrible storm he wouldn't have what you hadn't been absolutely. Wolf for instance stern look at Isaak when plaque humans couldn't -- the floodgate was shot. On one side of the wall was 25 feet of water and on our side it was completely dropped. What you just miraculous that to stand on top millennia imagine that this walls holes and backed him that much water. -- -- one of the I mean there were so many sad stories -- we don't have to relive them all but I read a book that was written by someone from Saint Bernard and it was conversations with people. In Saint Bernard who would state. And heroes absolute heroes and and yet -- losses -- just so tremendous and I actually bought fifteen companies that book and sent them around to friends around the United States. Because -- that was real people -- it's unfortunate mr. Maginnis isn't here because he he state and he was shared some of his stories of Katrina just last week who's talking to him so he can probably you via a -- up well we'll get him back in and the -- he was very sweet tea. But at the last second he's at the school so he had to OK let's move on to other things that are happening. In Saint Bernard that are encouraging to you. But it arm I can tell you in my district we just recently got the arts and cultural district we treated to old -- arts and cultural district. And -- and basically what that does studio inferno which -- in a bottle and a sauter has relocated there an old Arab League. And his wife has opened up her studio -- she does metal work. And what it does for artists that create one of a kind artwork. The I get a pass on the state and local sales taxes but -- -- -- also helps that. If you want to all renovated historic building an old Arabic that you get down tax credits from the state. For your efforts on SO I'm looking for we just got beat the condition of award. Who dislike 23 weeks ago and get the complete all people or by July 1 and I'll go on effect July 1 of 2014 so that's. The real big plus and I think to have an impact at least it may motivate. I'm people who are investors coming in at a renovate some historic buildings -- be our best there. We also have this is a project it's been kind of lingered on -- its phone steinem who -- considerate thing we had a block grant of CD BG funny. The money for the all -- that we've got organization in in the short term right now we kind of broken in two phases were going in and redo an immediate and right that is seven blocks a median and old Larry. And we're trying to complete that work and and in beautification of that before the battle of new walls caused him celebration on January. A 2015 so that's a Russian I'm gonna come back with the second phase which will be a more open do you like he just there's some kind of connection to get people connected to the river no matter be. We just recently had a first brewery open up forty -- opinion to really cut on Friday. And it can and their talk about it tapped from a may be a viewing deck that we can look out over the Levy. And and we're trying to provide some access where pedestrians can at least it -- over the -- -- like that to -- you know we can kind of connect the neighborhood with a river. I don't see that. That to me is the future. People really wanna see that river yet and with our levees you can creative thinking like that this is terrific I just read about the forty -- pants yes well that's what. You know so much has happened along saint Claude avenue and then they're going further and further the natural line especially among artistic people which is such a brilliant thing you're doing. Is is essentially as they'd like attacks rezone correct for original artwork original artwork all you artists out there pay attention it's. As you say your four miles from the corner yes and are you in. Old -- on the -- that yeah so it's it's really good you know promote elaborate we're actually about four point eight miles you know and it's real quick. You know ride to get there so we're really excited we also have the school board is finishing up the moment -- a twenty point four million dollar project. It's going to be a science interactive senate with a planetarium. And so that should be wrapping up I think it's probably wrapped up in September of this year. And I know -- be you know you become an event too because it's it's really an impressive careers that it's the old arm. Hold every element elementary and it's on Frisco -- it's right in the middle of old married. But they -- the restored it in the old historic school structure and they're also building. Moment in the rear their bills and a new cafeteria -- some classrooms they're renovating the original old stage and they're building a new planetarium which is -- new structure that. So now we're real excited about that it says a bunch of you know such as government at school board we have a bunch of different agencies you know private. Com you know artists come and and so we're excited about a lot of different things don't wanna know it's. Happening in saint Bernard parish everyone stay with us were not done we'll be right back. -- we're talking with -- -- gut and Casey Honeycutt both councilman. From saint Bernard parish about. Really incredible things that are happening in your parish. Both population -- arts district the -- flood protection major opportunities for homeowners. Let -- talk about. Because we do this every time we have either neighborhood her parish command there are still issues that we all face let's talk about roads and lightning has that always is a big. How were you doing with that. I think we're doing pretty well you know the administration has been very responsive -- we have street lights out we do you have a couple of stretches -- -- it in my area where. On the it was damaged by Katrina and were fighting with FEMA on whether it was hurricane damage or not. But for the most part I would say you know ninety to 95% of all about -- his operation on if it's not we're working on I don't think we -- the same type of the issues that to me in neighboring communities that you're being very gentleman. Cook -- we have issues with issues with lightning and hopefully there gonna resolve -- attempt and what about crime. Crime received this community green loans -- if that's how I feel sheriff's office Sarah Pullman does an excellent job. On this -- very proactive. And out and and the results you can look at the crime statistics and concede results mean and they really are very well. On the enforce the law there and they they provide good service courteous. I mean just total professionals all the way around. We have had to share -- but it was much earlier. Actually last fall but I wanted to pick up the phone and personally called him and thank him. For the arrest of the people who had tortured that dog. It was one of the worst things suffered a long time and effort a lot of bad things lot of animal cruelty but. I thought it was a very proactive and appropriate thing and and good for him and please pass that on to him. Tell me what else is going on in. -- -- What is not going -- sun come up -- we you know we're we're approaching one point two billion dollars in capital improvement investment from FEMA. Into Saint -- Packers. You know which is something in besides the one point two -- government the school board is 500 million itself. And FEMA capital investment. Latte and I know -- that you know this but that incredible. Heroine of a woman -- superintendent of schools have -- obviously she is something else and it was so good for her to be nationally recognized yet. So much we've talked about this recently about saint Bernard parish it was sort of her heart. The said the school will open and so people have that confidence my kids can go someplace. Very important. Yes yes -- in your beautiful and high school. Yes but the facilities. I'll tell you we have the best from school board facilities -- put anywhere right now because -- -- -- being renovated you know you can newly constructed. And it's it's impressive just to go down to facility facility and she's done. A man herculean job -- -- that she's carried that system on -- back and got a pack up and run. What about let's talk about economic development because you brought that up. Of trying to bring businesses in what what ones have you and and what he's looking toward. We just had a very large expansion of associated terminals there -- largest -- of port property just conceived and or the Irish port. Has averaged 17%. Annual growth rate. On the cargo for the last ten years. And when he twelve the port handled over ten million tons of cargo. Just on a daily 800 jobs to -- he. Indirectly 12100 jobs. You know it's just the port has been that as as well as a school board the sheriff's office has been missed you know shining gem in Saint Bernard. You know we've we've had. Very large retail investments in Saint Bernard. That have been following the trends of the mass immigration people you know into Saint Bernard -- So in the 2010 census we were listed as one of the fastest growing communities in the nation. You know just a lot of good things moving forward I mean we have a lot of land which -- messages on the surrounding areas don't have the luxury haven't. Don't have the exact numbers would just from my reference feel -- Our retail is as -- pre Katrina even greater than it was pre Katrina retail business have come back strong. Poetry and that is such an important thing I mean I remember. This goes back after the storm that when the McDonald's opened it was a big thick -- rocking parliament. Important. Things the pitcher has more. Is even greater is that showing confidence in the community yes you know not just a sport that we're safe. Which is very very important everyone stay with -- we'll be right back. Well we're talking about saint Bernard parish with two councilman ray lauer got and that Casey Honeycutt and we were talk about all the things happening post-Katrina but. One that you fight is all -- parishes are fighting is still the issue of blight -- and how do you handle that. Will we have a property maintenance crew -- recently is adopted. And we're still trying to get the wheels of the mechanism going so that we can apply but we have AM out of all of the and departments we may have cut a criticized in the budget. The inspectors in the code enforcement people as one group that we did not cut because it's important that they're out there. And enforcing the property maintenance issues that are going on you know high grass you know -- -- that a -- takes a way to look you can running -- him one lot. That has high grass and it just detract from the whole full block let me just I think. Maybe it may be Orleans parish one of the parishes they will actually now going to cut the grass but -- we do that to you do that we don't take it to me it doesn't happen. With the frequency. I think it should. But -- you know he had realize we're dealing with thousands of properties -- now as opposed to it just couple -- so it is an overwhelming task. That raskin opinions parish from police to do but we're trying to -- to elephant one bide his time in her. And how do you handle. People who are just I mean is there a punishment. For not taking care of your property they should be should be fines and liens and until recently you learn -- -- The you know get now we can find and put the lean on the property and idling we'll show on their tax bill that they get at the end of the year. And so we weren't really doing that before but the administration. And and counselors really kind of urged that in -- a provision it's provided in state law that allows. The parish to go and put that fine on tax bill and collected and at that point will be able to get the -- attention that. If you can't maintain your own property and you do something when it. And -- it's a continuous fight you know -- mansion property maintenance code and we also have the tools put. The tax cut five and on the tax bill any money that's paid -- with the taxes goes first satisfying that the fine for the grass cut. So there's no way that the property owners can get around paying it without you know and have to pay that first and then the taxes. Also we've instituted a program. That if you have a property right next Ortiz went owner is. Nicholas and neglecting and also lead on the on the property taxes because that happens a lot with these absentee owners -- -- the property taxes. So if they have a property next. And owners haven't paid taxes. If you cut that piece of property. For one year and Paris doesn't have to cut it. If you cut that piece of property for one year. You can come to the Paris and we'll sell it to you for a thousand season did you will adjudicate the property and we will we will go through the adjudication process take the property in the Paris government's hands and then we will facility for a thousand dollars for cutting the property for us. And then we can direct Paris resources other ways. That is a great idea what is -- that you have going in the legislature. Currently we have going in the legislature. New Orleans and Jefferson -- a program in this hearing officer. And it's independent court system that setup. You know it provides. It provides a little independence and he gave that away from the politicians. We are working with the state wrapped. We have a bill that Reagan attached -- to get Saint -- the authority to create its own hearing office. I mean this is something that rain and I have been working on for months in -- -- now and it's actually come to fruition and it's it's very exciting because this is gonna give us. And independent source and then we won't have to go to the 34 judicial court system. That way -- free them up you know focus on that the criminal and in -- -- that they have to worry about we don't climb the docket. With. Code code and forced many issues. -- just a touch on what we've said before about the -- style and cut my grass for somebody -- not cut in their own lawn who. Our problem is that if you if you got a couple dozen -- ago cut that's not a problem you deal with thousands like we -- That amount of money that the parish has to put up front cover those costs cut grass we just. Don't have those budgetary means to go ahead in front that money to wait to collected and. And Angelina another thing just kind of like -- was saying. About four years ago we weren't doing things more. You know we have -- we were charged people to cut their grass after Katrina. Less than it would cost them to pay a private person cut the grass so they were people out there that would just saying OK let the Paris cut my grass and I have to pay ten dollars. It's cheaper than paying in some you know paying a real companies to do. So what we did was we analyze that we said you know what. If we're gonna do this we have to charge these people exactly how much it cost Irish government to do it which went from ten dollars a lot to about 250 to 300 to cut. -- -- -- administrative cost -- effort in and collection cause -- units up. What what is the hesitancy in people other than me you know family issues. Why don't they want to either say I'm gonna sell the home and let somebody fix it up. And and I have that Burton. Two things I think it's out of sight out of -- found live and on and not sure I noticed this property it's not and I don't see every day it's not in front of my mind. The other thing too is is the property values or at the press of so much right now you -- don't wanna sell a slot for. 5000 dollars -- I'd rather hang on to a total property guy comes up. And now silent then but if you can do that and you have to maintain that property. And signaling that has a house on and it's going to seat correct. Will we don't we don't have that many properties and actually houses since vacant yes do is these are mostly vacant lots we've had I believe it's over 8500. Structures demolished since Katrina. And down and we we still have a few that trickling in every council meeting that we have to decide to demolish. But I think we've been very proactive in going out there and to their -- down and and China finalize. These structured blight in the prior. Quickly just -- so we can mention you had a tax referendum on now to the hospital and it failed. And this is your new hospital and an update us on what that means. Well it was an eight foot expansion of services -- there was another tax that was passed about a year and a half two years ago. And that was a nine year tax to help fund the start -- cost to get the hospital in start up and movement. And they -- voters pass that and and then there was another referendum on hospital about I'm trying to expand services and and -- do some more investment. And I just think it was too early I think people Saint Bernard wanna see you deliver on your original promise. Before we -- and you know get to go on a second -- so I think that's where it's at the the hospital. His report -- -- report -- it's profitable and it's moving forward. And now it's a slackening. Corn to hospital board it's not gonna jeopardize the closing of the hospital on -- that that was the main concern. And how many bids isn't. Forty -- what events and but -- I think it's forty with the option to explain to sixty correct correct. But that's that's a nice size for communities like that and you have something yes present and it's beautiful it's a gorgeous of that well. Just like animal shelter couldn't get the job animal shelter. -- -- you would also mentioned about the replacement of possible water lines yes what's happened is that we've. -- totally redone the sewer -- treatment plant and that was started before Katrina the voters passed. A bond issue to go ahead and and renovate that it was in really deplorable conditions. Almost taken about 25. For 26 million dollars and CB block grant money and we're building a brand new water treatment plant. -- you can supply on the part of war. Some of the issues that we have or is that the this cast -- of water lines. A bulk of them were put in 1937. Some of them before that. And then run into the end and actually have beyond that and this service like so that's the last league the distribution. We have to first class facilities for water treatment he has and sewage treatment. But I need to distribution system to get. Give the -- and -- -- good water wouldn't be providing an you know it's gonna meet all federal regulations for the next ten years. And and that's the item we're going to now our our water -- read. I mean. How water bill for the the minimum for it like helmets off 5000 -- you pay sixteen dollars and 24 cents. And so we -- that we are analyzing a -- increase. But it's just it's not a necessity to keep provide you know to provide a first class. Water treatment and distribution that that people want synchronize -- been neglected we have had a water rate increase in seventeen years. So I know people -- content is never popular raised water rates down even I think even with the -- it's on -- table right now we'll still be the cheapest. Water rates and the green -- area. So it's just something that it was not a necessity it's been kicked down a cancer and kicked and root for years and it went and the road at this point we have to address. And just like race and it's about providing a first class of first class operation and assistance we've. Made the investment in the water treatment plant we made the investment and waste water treatment plant. We've also currently making the investment in a new intake pipe coming from the Mississippi River. And then world we're discussing right now it's on a table. In switching out all the pot of water lots. So I mean it. The water quality in Saint Bernard -- -- enough. Then nobody will be able to compare himself to and it's it's going to be great. So you have 23 miles of safety. You have. Give -- all this -- sewage. You're taking care of these blighted homes many -- at the majority of them in just a great idea on the grass cutting. And somebody combined home after one here of cutting grass for a thousand dollars in April on -- and believable. I love the arts district I think that is a great idea Europe parish on the move as we if you stay with the right back. I want to thank the councilman from saint Bernard parish are doing a tremendous job.