WWL>Topics>>6-5-14 2:10pm Angela: with Mayor Mitch Landrieu

6-5-14 2:10pm Angela: with Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Jun 5, 2014|

Angela sits down with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- hit the ground running as he began his second term as mayor of New Orleans. Mitchell Andrew can look back on his first four years with a sense of real accomplishment as progress post-Katrina. Has hit its stride. Tourism is flourishing retailers rocking and entrepreneurial spirit is alive. According to every study we've seen people are feeling good about the city. But the mayor faces how to pay for two consent decrees and the fireman's pension how to get more people interested in joining the police department. And how to resolve the ever growing demands of citizens groups who want the streets and lights fixed now and not years from now. We are thrilled to have mayor Landrieu with this. Almost fresh from the legislative session where some of those victories will help the city save some money. And we'll give voters the chance to decide if we can help more with the cost of police and fire. Thank you thank you for being with this thing you know you're always so busy -- agreed to be here I'll meet with him. Let -- trouble let's go back to the legislature because we had wins and losses but let's talk about the big one is. Ultimately. If the state allow us we will be able to vote to see if we can help the police and -- sure what I. I wanna put this in in broad context first of all. As you know I just finished my first term I'm thrilled to. Have been given a second opportunity to to serve for the next four years. The problems that we had the last four years of very different from the problems that you have in the next -- all of this for the last four years to come out of what was almost a cataclysmic. Fall literally into the into the gulf we came in office as you -- or call three weeks after the BP oil spill hit. So we come out September 11 Katrina Rita Ike and stop the national recession and the BP oil spill. And for the last four years of people the city should really be proud of how four. We have been able to come because as -- said in the first and arguably dresses and require a lot of sacrifice. And I think everybody pulled together and we tried everything that we could to kind of get the city back. On on even now what's happening is more people moving into the city and -- and out. We never had retail before now we have a bucket load of common and you and I were talking about the reward just a minute ago which is spectacular for people haven't been on there go. We have -- markets open next week we've had a -- watches stuff happen in this really really good. But where we are now is we've got to prepare ourselves for the future and so of course of UC 2018. To remind people that's -- 300 anniversary of that such as the party it's just not a celebration of looking back insane we -- with bin. Really celebrating all of our culture but it's also an opportunity use that as a benchmark so that we can begin -- when we wanna be. In three and a half years way to what the school system to be one way to we won the healthcare system to be where we want a public safety system to be where we want to be without street we started. Come up with a strategy -- get you know one of the big challenges. That the city normally has always that this has been with us for the last forty years is whether or not we have enough resources coming into the city. To pay for all the things that the city needs now on all of the things that the city needs you see this. Examples of this all over the place because we haven't been really good. And maintaining what we whether it was an organized police department roads and streets or street lights. What's happened is I've gotten older and have gotten tired arm and of course the amount of money we got from the federal government as nice as it was to get someone's in nearly enough. To fix everything that was broken and so in the last four years for example on streets we have paved more streets in this city that have been paid in the last forty years. But it was mostly on major streets so for example when neighborhoods come in. With the generally talking about and it was in -- streets which are in terrible shape all over the city of New Orleans one of the things have happened all the community meetings as people -- beginning because people who's got the worse streets in this city what everybody does all over. Folks in lake do you think though all the worst -- -- and I think the worst post and on on on the best bank is they like to say that it's the worst and that's a challenge we have in fact for example just -- -- area. We've read on -- -- Fillmore Harrison. -- to train and of course with all the major renovations it's a report this -- -- -- -- out there but of course. That really doesn't matter to the person that's living on the street the house that's got a bad streak -- can't get to the house that continues to be a big problem is there any FEMA money left yes yes so what I wanna say is that the interior street continue to be a big problem that everybody knows this. This is simple that cost a bucket load of money and so we continue to be in negotiations with FEMA. To make sure that we get reimbursed. For all of the damage that was dentistry -- Katrina now while we're doing that were also negotiating with FEMA. About making sure that they paid their fair share for. That the sewerage and water pipes because of course the biggest challenges. Well if you have a water problem on the street you replace them what happens if something that was so make sure that those about a coordinated you know we have a new surge of water board. We avenue executive director and we gonna make sure that the department of public works. And the source of water board are in the same room together all the time and we're very hopeful that in the future that we gonna get FEMA. To give us a fairly substantial amount of money to begin to to begin doing interior streets of. Manila in order to right are so many of these neighborhood groups have brought this -- -- they've been told there is something the money they say the same thing you're saying -- has to be coordinated with -- to modern -- let's get him at the table. They're they're just they're tired. That they want affection -- wanna -- quickly it it's almost as possible do you get deadlines. Now we don't it's not even that it's is it manpower. Is that a man -- -- it's a combination of it's it's mostly money and resources and coordination at all three of those things illicit. Is as much as human beings like to be able to control this situation I think everybody here knows we live on a swamp right. And right nail all of the pipes under the city of leading 40% of -- water. And we as a city over the past forty years have not done a good job. Of maintaining them so nobody can really guess when the next water hole is gonna burst and it could be right after so for example. The we just got finished a group project on Jeff Davis park. And it's in the process it's beautiful now they just restricted in the fix in the bridge -- now if what if what if what if a pipe breaks underneath that today. Will have to go on do that and people say oh my god they just pay -- -- well you've got to go fix where the holes are so what we need to do is take a holistic approach. And that's what we do on with -- now we don't want what FEMA. Get away from us we think that they -- us a substantial amount of money for the damage that was due to it and we don't want to shortchange ourselves -- in the middle of those negotiations as we speak. And if and when we're successful on that than we will be able to generate more money for interior streets however. This is a huge problem it's citywide cost a lot of money. And I can tell you that it's gonna be fixed over time it's certainly not going to be something that happens overnight but it's something that of course I'm aware of on the street lights. Same thing happen you know when the light -- goes out that's one thing and we have replaced thousands and thousands of thousands of them but sometimes like -- keep going up because of wiring. And the end of the real infrastructure here a lot of money in a lot of time. All the things that are broken and now the City Council thank you so much just passed. A provision the other day that's gonna provide its fourteen million dollars in new recovering money. That's not enough to fix the whole system but it's enough to get a much much better start. And we will continue to fixes lights but like -- like to your house they continue to go out if you wind broken it cost a lot of money to do that but those are just too. -- -- considered to be major infrastructure issues that have to be fixed in the city but we have a lot more and the big challenge for the city financially is trying to find a way to physically rebuild the city let's call it infrastructure. And to make sure that we have enough recurring revenue coming in for day to day operations so the public also says I want to be safe. What does that really mean we don't have enough police officers we have the high 300 more 300 more equals fifty million more dollars. That's over and above what we have already federal government says. We need John act better and you police department we need to act that are over the jail -- -- act better at. And -- they impose with these things we call consent decrees are those all cost money so for example. The police consent decree is costing us eleven million dollars a year more than we paid last year and so when you get into a zero sum game because is not enough money for everything. You have to start making decisions about what goes first what goes seconds I want to the legislature this year it's -- How we've got all of these new well either you help boss like -- supposed to now you know forgive our debt. The way US President Obama to forgive yours that seems reasonable to me the state legislatures and things. Well because they had the money in we have on Martin wanna give it to us. So that's number one secondly why don't you give us the money is supposed to give us for the casino support services contract will give you some. So they gave us the opportunity now which is good. Three point six million dollars at the years ago we need to issues it was supposed to be ten. Well if you're not gonna give us the money that you almost want to let us keep the money that we generate a -- we let the people in New Orleans thinking about race revenues on themselves. And make sure that they have fare options so people that smoke cigarettes in the city may be to pay a little bit more. The legislature saw fit not to give the City Council and the people. Of the city an opportunity to even think about that I don't even get why they even have that option issue -- the city decide that's of that that's a very clear that that is exactly right and it's a much much bigger fight for another day but we lost that fight. We also -- wanted to let nature of the tourist pay. As they come in and they said no we charge them too much already where I can do that and then of course we asked them on to allow us to think about raising taxes. On property that's not subject to the homestead exemption to be dedicated to police protection. And to fire protection now they passed a constitutional amendment that he has got to go on the ballot. The people of the state have to vote for two people of the city have to vote for and then it's got to come back to the City Council the city -- got to vote on again. And then the people have to vote on it -- so what's gonna happen is in the next six months. I'm gonna try in in -- hand version we have more time to lay out for the people. One follow what our strengths and weaknesses are what opportunities are and then what I challenges are. And that what our priorities are because here's a thing this is just -- like you momma daddy talked into the you can't have everything which one of these things do you want what are you willing to pay for what are you willing to sacrifice. We have to have that discussion because we can't do it all at once and if he can't do it all at once which had to do was do it over time. And so on the police and fire thing you know we're trying to hire 150 new police officers and we had the money in the budget for five recruit classes offer -- -- started the other day. And we're in an aggressive recruitment for NO PD officers and I -- gone on May have evicting on Saturday to recruit as well 150 you've budgeted which is great. But my understanding is we're losing essentially a 120 year it's almost like running and play well first of all that it is it is. Is true that that the -- the through attrition you lose about that much you have to keep going. It cost money to do that and we finally beginning to do that again which is a good sign I believe that we have to hire more police officers over and above that so we can be very aggressively recruiting. People and if anybody wants to be in the and a PD call 311. Given you name they'll tell you how to get to the website for the police department would do on -- a recruitment day this Saturday at Langston -- -- schools so if you wanna come at 10 o'clock. If you wanna -- the presentation personally can do that you can go on line. So that's really great because people say we need jobs we got a 150. And would love to have some folks come on out and applied and clock -- vote came out with a report last week saying there in ninety positions cops are now sitting on. That could be civilian. What are your thoughts on let's take those nine police officers put them on the street and do have swelling I have a lot of respect for the inspector general I think he's done some good work. I think sometimes he gets a little bit far field. On and in this census reports and a couple of things to say we don't really need 15100 police officers I think he's wrong about that. -- best analysis based on all of the data points and public debt from experts around the country says that if we really want to. On a perfect day in New Orleans we should have around 5875. Officers policing. This city now be that is in -- a second point that he made I think that is well taken. Is that you wanna make sure the news department if you have offices in uniforms -- a doing jobs it's of these can do. You wanna make sure you have offices what you put them and would work it through that and I think that's a valid point and I think that that's something that we gonna continue to work on. As well so we gonna do both of those things and we do everything we need to do to make sure that offices of the point the right way and that. Can -- right now. The working very hard right now and understand what you're saying about it's a constant priority as a nation if you don't have unlimited funds. We have said in our earlier conversation here that we need other sources of revenue any more thoughts on. And how you do it but getting some of the people who were not paying taxes primarily the nonprofits who use our infrastructure -- but not a taxpayer defeat. We need X amount of money to -- saint Charles avenue right perhaps go to the schools and so sure could you help us with that. Well first of all I would say that our approach. For work in every day is this thing the first thing we do as we always cut waste. That's the first thing we do so when you know we all came together for years ago we had a hundred mean follow a budget that's 25% now. Congress has never ever know the state budget come close to cut that amount of money out of budget and the people of the city normally is -- it. The second thing we always do is we reorganized to realize savings so if we have lots of boards and commissions settled and tied unnecessary. We consolidate those functions of the -- doing something that's not a primary mission. We asked the private sector of the not for profit sector to do it. And then what we do is take those savings in invested in things that matter like mortar and a PDs that we have to do all of those things first the next thing you have to do. Is make sure you collect which you know which is why we really have gone after everybody that owes anything to the city. Tickets. Late fees on surge of water board property taxes we've increased our collection rate because it's not fair to ask citizens to pay. When other people was supposed to be pain and not. Right and then only after you do all of those things which we continue to do every day. -- about -- then you have to grow the economy now last year and we we talked about this yesterday. Our sales tax because of all this new work that we've done with. All of the new retails it has grown nine point 6% which issues astronomical it's three times the national average so. We have done to get all of us. About as well as anybody can do in all the primary things and now in only as a last resort to happen and go to everybody else is OK you know -- if we get -- raise new revenue. Who should we go talk to first. To make sure that everybody pays that it's really low and that it's fair and what are the many different ways that we can do it -- nobody gets hurt. A lot. And so on that note there at -- has always been an argument to be made and actually I agree with -- -- not for profits. That are engaged in commercial activity that may not be paying everything that they go number one number two they are in some instances not for profits that. Could be paying in lieu of taxes right instead of have an idea of fear and assessment you can do that. They may be some of innovative ways that we all can can Connie increase. The -- but we have to have that discussion because it's a hard discussion connection has come as soon as you start having everybody company is our worst. Everybody has great ideas about -- somebody else content for when you get really down to as it like to say to the lake lawn. You know it gets really really hard to say I agree output up because of course you have to everything's gonna be fair it's got to be low it's got to be transparent everybody supposed to be pain with -- And I just I think that's a long conversation. Started and already during the legislative session hope that it will unfold itself and community meetings across the city. I'm as we wait and then of course we have to haven't a discussion about what you wanna spend the money on first is a police. Is -- street lights. Right so we have libraries for example they need funding. We have parks need funding -- need funding we have police that needs funding we have lots of stuff and we as a community have to say well I know we can't do everything but this is what we -- the first entrants are very good point that. Several people have asked is there a way. To have. More citizen involvement. In the budgeting process before it goes with the council on as we all see the hearing after a first of all before we got here four years ago. The thing that happened was an -- presentation to the council on October 15. The council are you know had meetings about it with public input the three months and and they vote and what we do now. Is we -- have community meetings and we have them all over the city and if you haven't been wanna love you to come. Somewhere between 500 to a thousand people come to the meetings we have one and every district. They they last three or four hours. They open ended public we have all of the folks that work for the city there. So people wanna make constituent complaints they can do that but they're really designed to be what we call bludgeoning outcome meetings with a public tells us. This is our priority in this area we take all of that information about a way. I asked that every comment that every citizen has made at every meeting -- write them down. And I keep them because I challenged mom deputy mayors in my department has a sit next year when I come back to this meeting. I don't want the same citizen saying you complained about this will be able to fix it unless we have an answer for why we -- able to do we take all of that information. We wrap it up. We make it part of our budget presentation actually two weeks earlier on October 1. We then have basically two and a half months of hearing that the public is invited to the City Council. And only after that do we do we actually -- a budget should to the extent that the City Council votes for -- and that we start to spend on January 1. According to that blueprint we also have for revenue estimating conference meetings a year that open to the public and and and a lot of stuff so the public has a huge amount. Of him on campus -- and that's good no question about as we move along here we'll talk about bringing more money does the city have some assets such as the World Trade Center. That you could sell short and then get it in revenue get those to you as well again what their did as a principle here that's important you don't. You generally do not want to take. Money from a one time asset. And send it and spend it on something that you have to pay for every year for recovering costs. So on that note there are apps as we do in this met with all of the fellow properties around the -- being given to us by the state. We wanna put those back in commerce GCS every couple weeks hockey auctioning off things -- the share sale -- fire houses. -- the World Trade Center would fall into that category. One of the reasons why that particular negotiation that work is because I don't think we we get enough. Riley and I thought the syndicate you've got a four and so we always thinking about getting rid of all liabilities. And turning them into assets that you would use. Money from those kinds of sales for one time major infrastructure improvements for example you could take. To the extent that you wanted to sell the world treats and if you got some money from that you would wanna take that and you would wanna invest that in infrastructure improvement. Like the bridge while like the roads in the streets and we are working on that all the time we are processing. Payments and in income and sales like that and and it's important and we need to keep it very briefly one of the things that you proposed sort of at the last minute was this. Tax district. That that did kind of going but will that come up again well the reason I did that was because I felt we say this as a lieutenant governor -- -- -- leader of the tourism industry in the state. I'm -- of course as mayor this city you can't not have great respect. For the tourism industry it's important but it is also important for the industries in this city to be working for the people of the city and not vice Versa. And it's very hard for me to go to the people of the city and asked them to pay an -- our tax if we're not able to generate some of that tax revenue from the two -- now. The hospitality industry raises the issue that if you raise taxes to high. Then maybe we're not going to be competitive with the New York people in stopped coming and the law actually stopped collecting weather is -- -- some -- in between those things. And so their idea was to come up with a with a with an economic development district where. If we build new hotels in the area we get to keep the hotel -- Texas to the public doesn't really understand this because -- I'm done for job of explaining it to. When the Super Bowl comes to New Orleans as glorious is that again and it was tragic that we didn't get at this time. When I say we have a 300 million dollar economic impact that money's not coming into the city general funds in other words that taxpayers bought to do that streets -- That -- most of that money goes to the state Louisiana because the state Louisiana gets most of the sales tax. The state Louisiana are other entities of the fourteen cent sales tax the city budget only gets one point five cents -- Truly a couple years ago what happened with the Super Bowl as the city. The that the the citizens who pay for police and fire protection. Paid a bucket load of money to host that thing but we only about 500000 dollars of the 300 million dollars back. And so I have kind of said the people you know we've got to change the rules of the game here we're happy to do all the work we're happy to host the rest of the state the rest of the world. But that money needs to start staying in the city. Harris casino produces nine million dollars in tax revenue for the state Louisiana nine million we sent from pointer street. To Baton Rouge and that money does not come back to actually built buildings. In that group which a lot of the money coming out of the superdome in the arena is not taxed when you buy -- hot -- it doesn't come to the city. No money coming out of the conventions and it comes to the -- -- all of these folks come to city. That we have to put police and fire protection on my kind of message to everybody is with got to kind of balance off this contractor relationships of that. We are able at least to recoup. The cost that the taxpayers of the city pay so that we can have police protection fire protection and economic development district. Was intended to spur that debate so. I want everybody in this discussion I want deport and it. What the maritime industry in and I wanted. Hospitality industry and it won the citizens and that everybody's got to be in because everybody's got to take out. And it's got to be fair it's got to be balanced but at the end of the day. The government of the city has to Iran right money and money out it's got to be equal because you don't wanna run a deficit. You wanna make -- taking you deferred maintenance you wanna make sure you have the basic things in place and this is basically what you hear in the citizens say they're not wrong. I want my basic stuff pick up my trash from street lights on fix my streets right I want good schools I don't wanna feel safe and the city. Has been way way way behind for forty years it's not gonna change overnight but I think we're making great progress. Image issues. It it's not gonna happen all at one time but I think everybody feels like we're moving in the right direction maybe not fast enough. But would -- as fast as we can for the resources that we have in our final my final question is what everybody else is asking. Governor. Thinking about running for governor now. I'm a love in the mayor of the city of New Orleans when your politician -- never -- never. Who knows who knows what it's gonna look like a year and half from now that -- the city -- Obama heart muscle it's so important. To the people and it's so important to the two to the rest of the country -- -- -- -- polls though the show -- Right well it makes you feel good right -- hacking and I feel good but that mean I'm not even run its -- keep not -- and -- -- -- not that he ran and when you not run and and you never say never you don't know with the world's gonna look like. -- but it's not something I spent a lot of time thinking about. I think we have a lot of work to do here. People have made the argument to me you can do more from the governorship of the city of New Orleans and you -- as mayor of the -- -- on our money -- -- -- let me say this to the fact. The fact that the state legislature. Did not leaned forward on Medicaid. Reimbursement and lost sixteen billion dollars which then put at risk eighty primary health care clinics in the city of New Orleans. I'm as some of the other things that they have done really make you kind of wonder. You know what direction we go on and in the state you have to think about all those issues this city normally doesn't live and isolation. Neither is Jefferson Parish in the industry would vote for a -- you may know this but I went to Detroit the other day at their invitation to talk to them because its cities in bankruptcy and they wanted to know was it really possible. To come back from a cataclysmic failure now was so thrilled. To represent the people of the city to say to the people Detroit looked. You know you can come back and and they and they wanted to know. You know why would anybody in New Orleans -- concerned about Detroit and I reminded them that when GM went bankrupt in Detroit. That we actually have a GM plant in Shreveport he had lost 12100 jobs and the reason that's important people normally. Because those 12100 families not notwithstanding the fact that they lost their jobs also pay taxes into the state general fund. That actually came in some form or fashion back -- -- so we all connected. And I can tell you that the people around the country are really just amazed at how resilient the people of New Orleans have been and the kind of things that we have been willing to do in the sacrifices. That we have been willing to make to really transform. This city from if you remember the nation's view of us almost completely underwater to what they now see. Is a beautiful June alone we have a long way to go we have a lot of problems. We have a tendency in this city kick the can down the road to not do the hard things but I think we have changed in that regard. And I think notwithstanding the the concern of some of the citizens I think generally we feel pretty good. That was wrapped our arms around each other and began -- -- high common ground and I think people know what success looks like I'm glad that they're demanding. Am happy to be held accountable it's a great place to be you know hopefully I'm going to be for the rest of -- Thank you very much mayor Mitch Lander you welcome I'm Angela we'll be right.