Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Consumer Law Seminar

Event Date: Saturday April 2, 2011

Location: Community Center, located at 1111 LeBeau St in Arabi.

No Cost

Time: 1 PM

Description: The Law Offices of Marc R. Michaud will partner with the Community Center of St. Bernard to offer a free seminar focusing on all areas of Consumer Law, including Wrongful Foreclosure, Unfair Credit Reporting and Identity Theft, Unfair and Abusive Debt Collection, as well as general Unfair Trade Practices.

The guest speaker will be Attorney Marc R. Michaud, who has extensive experience working with and against multi national banks and corporations, mortgage lenders and servicers, debt collection agencies and credit reporting bureaus. Since opening his solo law practice, Mr. Michaud recovered over a million dollars for individual clients in cases of identity theft, wrongful foreclosure and unfair and deceptive acts and practices. According to Attorney Michaud, “Since the beginning of what we now call the 'Great Recession,' unscrupulous banks and other lenders have joined their debt collector brethren and have become even more bold in the tactics they employ to squeeze their customers and non-customers alike. And it's only getting worse. It's important for individual consumers to know their rights, and to know how to fight back when necessary."

Attorney Michaud's presentation will include an overview of the techniques certain banks and collectors use to circumvent established consumer law in order to maximize profit and shareholder value at the individual consumer's expense. Participants will learn what their rights are and how to respond when faced with questionable collection practices. Importantly, Mr. Michaud can and will tailor the seminar to the participants' needs and concerns.

The Free Consumer Law seminar on April 2nd is open to the public and no reservations are needed. For more information, please call the Law Offices of Marc R. Michaud at 504.267.1657 or go to marcmichaudlaw.com .

Legal Advice on Oil Spill Claims Available Through April

Event Date: Every Monday until April 25, 2011

Location: Community Center of St. Bernard, 1111 LeBeau St, in Arabi

Cost: No Cost

Time: 10 AM - 4 PM

Description: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) will hold weekly Oil Spill outreach hours. Established in 1979, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services offers low-income people free legal aid for a variety of civil legal issues, including problems with income taxes & predatory home loans.

During the Oil Spill outreach sessions SLLS staff will discuss general questions about the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) claims process, assist clients with compiling their claims and calculating losses to submit to the GCCF, distribute informational materials about SLLS services and educational materials about the GCCF claims process, and perform intake procedures and set up appointments for clients who wish to discuss their claims, or other legal needs, directly with an attorney.

Although SLLS will answer general questions and distribute education materials to the general public, they are limited to providing direct legal services to those clients whose income is below 200% of the poverty level. These limits are $21,660 annually for a single person, $29,140 for a household of 2, $36,620 for a family of 3, and $44,100 for a family of 4. Clients should bring proof of their income such as a bank statement, social security award letter, or pay stub, in order to qualify for SLLS services. Residents who are not eligible for SLLS assistance will be directed to appropriate partner organizations. No appointment is needed to attend the Oil Spill outreach sessions. For more information, please phone SLLS at 504-340-1381 ext. 29.

Greater New Orleans at the Inflection Point

Video premiered at GNO, Inc. 2011 Annual Meeting is now available online
Date: March 2011

The economic comeback of Greater New Orleans has been gaining steady momentum in the years since 2005. Today, broad evidence suggests that this progress is at an "Inflection Point"--on the brink of rapid acceleration in a number of key areas, including entrepreneurship, human talent, positive perception, and business development. This increasing rate of positive change presents an undeniable, and historic, opportunity for Greater New Orleans to achieve new levels of economic diversity and strength.

Below is a link to our video: "Greater New Orleans at the Inflection Point."



The city's plans to decrease the amount of blight in neighborhoods will begin shortly
Date: March 19, 2011

Description: Beginning Saturday March 19, 2011, residents in District E will begin to notice an increase in the remediation of blight in their community. Quality of Life issues, such as blight, remain as one of our most pressing issues in post-Katrina New Orleans, and I am elated that we have finally secured a contractor to begin addressing these properties. Most of these properties will be addressed under the Interim Nuisance and Abatement Program (INAP). INAP is federally funded under the auspice of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Disaster Community Development Block Grant. INAP will provide the funding for cutting severely overgrown grass, clearing lots and draining and filling abandoned swimming pools.

Over the last ten months, my staff has compiled a comprehensive listing of blighted properties, pools and lots that is sent to the Code Enforcement and Health Departments on a regular basis. This list will be resubmitted to ensure that your blight concerns are addressed. This administration has a great plan to reduce 10,000 blighted properties in the next three years. As the Councilman of the district with one of the highest amounts of abandoned properties, I look forward to seeing the plan come into fruition and will continue to work closely with Mayor Landrieu and his staff to see that District E not only returns but surpasses its Pre-Katrina state.

I encourage the residents of District E to pay close attention to the recovery going on around them. Blighted units are being demolished, new businesses are opening and our ‘Quality of Life” is constantly being improved. We have waited almost six years to see this extent of progress, and while it is not being done at the rate that most of us would like, I am happy that it is being done!

Contact: Donna Dugue at 504-658-1050 for more information.

Greater New Orleans Region to Develop Sustainable Integrated Water Management Strategy

Strategy announced in conjunction with World Water Day 2011
Date: March 22, 2011

Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. announced that Waggonner & Ball Architects, APC will be awarded the contract to develop the Comprehensive, Sustainable Integrated Water Management Strategy for St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes for storm water, waste water, ground water, flood control, water infrastructure, public rights of way, and other public properties.

The funding to execute the program is provided through a $2 million Comprehensive Resiliency Program award from the Louisiana Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit (OCD-DRU) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to GNO, Inc.

GNO, Inc. invited experienced, multi-disciplinary teams to submit proposals for this initiative through a competitive bidding process that included a selection committee consisting of parish officials and experts in engineering, planning and design, community engagement, environmental sustainability, and flood protection.

The announcement coincides with the 19th annual World Water Day. Held each year on March 22, World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for 2011 is "Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge." The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Waggonner & Ball is a highly respected architectural and planning firm with 30 years of experience working in the Greater New Orleans region. Waggonner & Ball will be responsible for reporting to GNO, Inc. on the progress of the project through completion. GNO, Inc. will manage the implementation of the grant with the support and guidance of an Advisory Council consisting of representatives from Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard parishes, as well as experts in the fields of water management, design, planning, and community engagement.

More information can be found at www.gnoinc.org.

What are people saying about Mardi Gras?!

Every year, at the end of February or in the beginning of March, thousands of thrill seeking, fun loving, men and women flock to the New Orleans area with the intent of participating and being a part of Carnival Season and the notorious Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday). This year was no different as New Orleans was the designated spot for spring breakers and tourists alike. I’ve been in the city during Mardi Gras for three years now and I can honestly say each year is a new, exciting and invigorating experience. The culture that this city embodies alone is enough to draw people here, but throw in some purple, green and yellow decorations and you’re sure to attract an interesting crowd!

This year, I decided to talk to a couple of my local and non local peers in an attempt to capture their thoughts on Mardi Gras and I was able to come up with a consensus response: They love it! For the people who grew up in this city, the joy of Mardi Gras not only lies in the festivities but also in the tradition that they have been a part of long before they knew what they were celebrating. During this time of the year, families both young and old, gather together to cook and eat and also pick out their spots to watch and enjoy the many different parades that go on. It’s not unusual for some families to even dress alike in costumes while taking in some of the parades as a tradition. Whether it’s taking in the eccentric Zulu costumes or the extremely bright floats of Endymion, there’s a joy that people experience while aimlessly trying to catch the artistically, ornamented Mardi Gras beads. Another anticipated event that a lot of my peers admitted to looking forward to is the Zulu Ball. They all claimed to love the idea of dressing up in beautiful gowns and enjoying the sounds of musical greats like this year’s guests, The O’Jays and Frankie Beverly and Maze, while they danced and mingled with friends and family.

The people that come from out of town who aren’t so familiar with New Orleans like to indulge in the many different seafood cuisine the city has to offer as well as frequent the local bars and the infamous Bourbon Street for a good time. For them, Carnival season and Mardi Gras Day is for them to forget about their worries and enjoy the streets, music and people who gather to participate in the parades. While there are some people who choose not to participate in the Mardi Gras festivities for reasons like money, weariness or repetition, the majority of my peers all agreed that Mardi Gras season is a time to really enjoy themselves and make lasting memories!

Rabiat Saraki

NPN Intern

Friday, March 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home: Melia Subdivision

By Jenise Green, Melia Subdivision, New Orleans East

I have been in the Melia Subdivision community for almost 15 years. What attracted me to the area was the quietness of the area and the neatly manicured yards.

The residents took pride in how their yard and neighborhoods looked. Post Katrina, I am proud to say the residents still have that same pride.

It has been a struggle post Katrina for some neighborhoods to come back. But our street, Stemway Drive is unlike any other. The neighbors really look out for one another. If they can help you, they will and just do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

My neighbor, Mr. Hamilton, cut the grass of the neighbor across the street (who did not return) for over a year. Mr. Hamilton told me he just wanted to do what he could to keep up the area.

Post Katrina, we still do not have the basic services we so desperately need. WE have been to numerous meetings about a hospital, schools and shopping areas. We pay our taxes just like everyone else and we deserve better.

Recently, we were told that an 80-bed emergency care center will open by the end of the year at Methodist Hospital. But, it has already been six years and this is needed right now.

All the children in my area are bused to different schools. We need more schools opened in New Orleans East.

Then, our community came together to restore Digsby Park. It was so nice to see volunteers from the Marriot, neighborhood and churches working together. It was a beautiful day and the residents were so excited. We worked with Rosedale and Pines Village Neighborhood Associations. I felt like the residents have worked for months to get this done and it seemed like it would not happen---but it did! The residents kept at it and would not give up and got it done.

That is such a good feeling.

I hope Melia Subdivision residents will keep up their resilient spirit to bring the rest of New Orleans East back, too.