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RTA unveils proposed service changes in advance of new North Rampart streetcar line

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Construction is on-going on the installation of Streetcar tracks along N. Rampart Street. The RTA is seeking grants to extend the line down to St. Ferdinand.

After hearing complaints in recent years that it has cut back on several bus lines to increase ridership on its streetcars, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority on Friday unveiled a plan that largely preserves existing buses around the route of the upcoming $41.5 million North Rampart streetcar line. And in another win for… Continue reading →

Essence Fest, Day 1: Apollo Theater’s ‘Amateur Night’ makes auditions debut in New Orleans

Advocate photo by J.T. BLATTY-- in New Orleans, La. Friday, July 1, 2016. Jabari Thomas auditions during the Apollo tryouts during the New Orleans Essence Festival.

It was 1934, and a former burlesque theater in New York had just been repurposed to become the Apollo Theater, allowing African-Americans for the first time to appear on its stage. One of the first performers at the new club’s “Amateur Night” was a 15-year-old Ella Fitzgerald. She brought down the house, and the rest was… Continue reading →

Attorney General Jeff Landry announces new New Orleans task force; agents to be used for ‘visibility’

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman enter a press conference about a new task force to add approximately 15 agents from the Louisiana State Police  Bureau of Investigations to help in crime prevention during special events like the Essence Festival and July 4th weekend in New Orleans at the Orleans Parish Justice Center Friday, July 1, 2016.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Friday that special agents from his office will join a new multiple-agency task force to be deployed in the French Quarter and Central Business District during busy tourism weekends. The news came just as tens of thousands of visitors began converging on New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival.… Continue reading →

Expansion means sweet times at Elmer Chocolate

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Elmer Chocolate CEO Robert Nelson talks about the $1 box of Valentine's Day candy that helped change his company. Elmer Chocolate cut the ribbon on a $40 million expansion at its Ponchatoula facility last month. The work added 70,000 square feet to the plant and  66 new jobs. Elmer said the expansion will make it more efficient, versatile and competitive.

For south Louisiana residents, Elmer Chocolate is synonymous with Easter. The company’s Heavenly Hash, Pecan Eggs and Gold Brick Eggs have been a staple of Easter baskets for decades. But Easter accounts for less than 10 percent of Elmer’s annual sales, said Robert Nelson, CEO of the Ponchatoula-based candy company. It’s actually Valentine’s Day that accounts… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette Business Honors for July 3, 2016

Campus Federal received a Silver Award from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions for its BioDistrict Branch in the point of sale/branch media category. The branch, at 2200 Tulane Ave., features a technology bar with interactive iPads and a queuing system for customers. Campus Federal partnered with international branding and strategic… Continue reading →

Initial unemployment claims in Louisiana rise

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending June 25 increased to 2,966 from the previous week’s total of 2,822.. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,027, the state labor department said. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 3,206 from the previous… Continue reading →

U.S. rig count up 10; Louisiana gains 1

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 10 this week to 431. A year ago, 862 rigs were active. Depressed energy prices have sharply curtailed oil and gas exploration. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 341 rigs sought oil and 89… Continue reading →

Group seeks to restore felons’ voting rights

An activist group filed a class-action lawsuit Friday seeking to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Louisiana residents on probation or parole for felony offenses. The lawsuit, filed in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, claims the state is disenfranchising nearly 70,000 citizens by enforcing “unconstitutional laws.” “Although ... these people… Continue reading →

JPSO: Man sought after armed robbery of consoles at Marrero GameStop

This man is sought in the armed robbery of a Marrero GameStop.

One man is sought by authorities after allegedly entering a Marrero GameStop with a gun and demanding gaming consoles, according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office release. Employees at the GameStop complied with the demands and gave the suspect two consoles, police said, at which time the man fled. The business, located at 1700 Promenade Boulevard, reported the robbery just after 4… Continue reading →

City Council members blast Entergy’s plan for new power plant at Michoud

Entergy New Orleans is trying to rush approval of a new power plant at Michoud in New Orleans East while failing to justify the size of the project, City Council members and their advisers said as they blasted the utility Thursday. The council’s Utility, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee demanded the utility hand over data and… Continue reading →

New Orleans scrapyard owner indicted, pleads guilty to role in auto theft ring

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Automobiles and parts are seen at 3030 Peoples Ave. in Gentilly in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, May 11, 2016. A Jefferson Parish grand jury indicted 13 men last week on charges of operating a massive auto theft and chop shop operation from 2009 to the present that caused more than $2.5 million in purported losses and allegedly involved an unnamed, unindicted former politician. Oliver ÔPawpawÓ Green is alleged to have operated a body shop at 3030 Peoples Avenue in Gentilly where stolen vehicles could be stripped or tagged.

The co-owner of a New Orleans scrap yard referred to only as an unindicted co-conspirator in a May 5 racketeering and auto-theft indictment in Jefferson Parish was indicted Thursday and quickly sentenced to 10 years in prison after admitting to his role in the criminal enterprise. Harry J. Sorrell, 48, of Slidell, pleaded guilty… Continue reading →

Drivers Beware: Huge crowds for Essence Fest expected to cause heavy traffic, parking headaches

Drivers should be patient as the 2016 Essence Festival, which is expected to draw 400,000 attendees, causes heavy traffic in the French Quarter and Central Business District this weekend, city officials said Thursday. The music festival’s events will run from Friday to Sunday in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Mercedes-Benz… Continue reading →

JPSO: Slidell man was lured to his death over internet; two booked on murder counts

Photo provided by Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office -- Cordaryle Robert's Escalade was found burned in Lafourche Parish on Monday.

A Slidell man found fatally shot in a drainage ditch this week in Jefferson Parish had been lured to an armed robbery by a woman who befriended him on Facebook, authorities said Thursday in announcing two arrests in the killing. “You never know who you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with folks on the internet,” Jefferson… Continue reading →

Oprah Winfrey added to Essence Festival’s free Empowerment Experience this weekend

In this June 15, 2016 file photo, Oprah Winfrey arrives at the season one premiere of "Greenleaf" at The Lot in West Hollywood, Calif. She has joined the roster of speakers for the 2016 Essence Festival's Empowerment Experience at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.  (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Oprah, Essence. Essence, Oprah. More than two decades after its founding as the anniversary celebration of a magazine marketed to African-American women, the Essence Festival finally will welcome one of the most prominent and successful African-American women in the world: Oprah Winfrey. On Thursday, the festival’s organizers announced that the multimedia mogul, whose enterprises… Continue reading →

Kenner Police: Raising Cane's manager stabbed repeatedly after surrendering cash, collapsing; 4th suspect arrested

From left, Joshua Every, Gregory Donald Jr. and Mark Cracklen

Update: A fourth suspect has been arrested in the Raising Cane's robbery that left restaurant manager Taylor Friloux dead early Wednesday, Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser said... Continue reading →

Suspect named in Memorial Day double homicide

Winston Jackson

New Orleans police said Thursday they had identified Winston Jackson, 18, as a suspect in the Memorial Day double homicide that left shell casings littered on a Broadmoor street. Two 18-year-olds, Faisal Puckett Jr. and Charles Bannister, were killed in the shooting in the 3300 block of General Taylor Street at the end of a… Continue reading →

'I’m not here to waste my time': Slow pace of group seeking New Orleans road fixes irks member

Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- A car drives through a water filled pothole in New Orleans East, Wednesday June 29, 2016.

After six months, at least one member of a task force created to develop a long-term financing plan for fixing New Orleans’ cratered streets is getting fed up with the slow pace of the group’s work. Freddy Yoder, the retired president and chief operating officer of Durr Heavy Construction, told the other members of the city’s… Continue reading →

Former state fire inspector sentenced to 25 weekends in Orleans Parish jail for French Quarter pistol-whipping

File photo provided by State Fire Marshall - 'Buddy' and handler Richard Abbott, in 2014, stand beside the 'Spirit of Louisiana,' one of two trucks donated by Louisiana to New York City in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A former state fire captain has been sentenced to serve 25 weekends in jail following his conviction in February for pistol-whipping a Jackson Square artist outside a French Quarter bar. Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter this week handed Richard Abbott a five-year suspended sentence on a charge of second-degree… Continue reading →

St. John council picks civic association head Raj Pannu to temporarily fill vacant seat

Raj Pannu

Businesswoman and civic association head Rajender “Raj” Pannu will fill a vacancy on the St. John the Baptist Parish Council for the next few months. The council voted Tuesday night to appoint Pannu to temporarily succeed Buddy Boe, who resigned from his LaPlace-based District 7 seat to join Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s staff as… Continue reading →

DNA from discarded smokes link Marrero man to 2011 armed robberies

A Marrero man whose discarded cigarettes linked him to two seemingly unrelated crime scenes five years ago has been convicted of five counts of armed robbery, Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office said. Jonathan Isaac, 54, was convicted as charged Wednesday in 24th Judicial District Court for robbing two Subway shops and a GameStop in March… Continue reading →

'Absolutely astounded': Man body-slammed by state trooper in French Quarter is Chicago doctor

A screenshot from a video shot by Joshua Plauche on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

A man body-slammed by a state trooper in the French Quarter over the weekend suffered several injuries during his arrest, including a laceration to his side and “serious bruising,” his attorney said Wednesday. The attorney, Steve London, said his client practices medicine in Chicago and was “absolutely astounded” by the actions of the trooper who… Continue reading →

Car struck by train on Metairie Road railroad tracks

An unidentified woman could do nothing but watch Wednesday afternoon as a train smashed into her new BMW on Metairie Road at the railroad crossing near Frisco Avenue. Vehicular traffic stopped just as the woman’s car was on the tracks, and she was unable to go forward or back up as the gates lowered and the… Continue reading →

Defense lawyers argue Will Smith trial should not coincide with football season

FILE - This April 10, 2016, file photo provided by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office shows Cardell Hayes. Hayes, the suspect in the death of  Will Smith, said he shot in self-defense because he feared the retired New Orleans Saints star, although unarmed, was going for a gun as they argued over a car crash. "It was self-defense,"  Hayes can be heard telling detectives in a recording of an interview made hours after the shooting. The recording was played in court Friday, June 3, 2016.(Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office via AP, File) ORG XMIT: NY162

Attorneys for the man accused of murdering former Saints defensive lineman Will Smith argued Wednesday that starting his trial on Sept. 20 might bias a jury against him because it comes just after the start of the 2016 football season. Defense attorney John Fuller said the scheduled start of the murder trial falls between a Sept.… Continue reading →

In fresh black eye for La. film incentives, state inspector general finds overbilling in 2 programs about New Orleans Saints

Still from the Sean Payton Show produced by Horizon Entertainment.

In the latest black eye for Louisiana’s troubled film subsidy program, the state’s inspector general released a report Wednesday that says a production company behind two programs about the New Orleans Saints bilked taxpayers out of at least $420,000 and possibly more than $1 million. The report from Inspector General… Continue reading →

City Hall needs tighter controls on gas cards, Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux says

New Orleans officials have no way of telling who is buying gas on City Hall’s dime and should tighten up oversight to prevent fraud, according to a report released Wednesday by city Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. Quatrevaux’s office said it examined six years of data from the city’s $3.2 million-a-year fuel program. It… Continue reading →

Kenner police arrest former Raising Cane's employee in stabbing death of manager; 2 suspects still at large

Taylor Friloux (Photo provided)

The dangers lurking in the night were never far from Taylor Friloux’s mind when she closed the Raising Cane’s outlet she managed in Kenner, friends said. Friloux served on the restaurant chain’s district safety committee. Hours before she died, according to her boyfriend, she asked him to be there when she closed up shop. But just before… Continue reading →

Family: ‘No leads’ in search for bipolar Mississippi woman who disappeared from Canal Street hotel

Chanda Smith, missing in New Orleans June 28, 2016

New Orleans police on Tuesday were still searching for a woman with bipolar disorder who walked away from her Canal Street hotel room early Sunday and has not been in contact with other family members visiting the city. Chanda Smith, 38, of Union, Mississippi, walked out of the Sheraton Hotel about 1 a.m. Sunday and has… Continue reading →

‘Let us dance’: Strip club dancers urge New Orleans officials to reject proposed cap on clubs

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--The New Orleans City Planning Commission staff recommend capping and spacing out the number of French Quarter strip clubs, like the Penthouse Club seen here on Iberville St. in the Quarter in New Orleans, La. Thursday, June 23, 2016. The CPC recommended to eventually cut the clubs by half. The study released this week is in response to City Council's directive for the CPC to study the issue.

Irate over a proposal that could eventually slash the number of strip clubs in New Orleans from the current 23 to seven, dozens of exotic dancers on Tuesday aired their frustration at what they said is an ill-informed attempt to regulate morality in the French Quarter. The dancers made their feelings known at a City Planning… Continue reading →

Officials settle on same 3 Port of New Orleans board nominees, going from private to public meeting

For the second time in two months, a group of local business and education officials tasked with nominating candidates to serve on the Port of New Orleans board met Tuesday to settle on three names to deliver to the governor. Despite reaching the same result as before, one key difference set the two meetings apart:… Continue reading →

Lindsay Lohan’s stepmom pleads guilty to intoxicated assault on flight diverted to New Orleans

File photo --  Kate Lohan (via Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

The stepmother of actress Lindsay Lohan pleaded guilty Tuesday to wildly hurling a cellphone at a flight attendant aboard an airplane on the day before Thanksgiving last year, an action that forced her flight to divert to New Orleans. Kate Lohan, 33, a tabloid reporter and the estranged wife of Lindsay Lohan’s 55-year-old father Michael, pleaded… Continue reading →

Judge stands by decision sending lawsuit by Tom Benson’s former assistant to NFL commissioner

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Rodney Henry, left,  former assistant to Tom Benson, was in federal court in April 2016 looking at settling a federal lawsuit in which Henry alleges that he was racially discriminated against and worked  unpaid overtime. His attorney Chris Williams is right.

A federal judge on Tuesday stood by his decision to send an employment lawsuit filed against the Saints by owner Tom Benson’s former personal assistant to arbitration in front of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Plaintiff Rodney Henry had asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to reconsider his ruling of last month. Henry said… Continue reading →

Drug boss Telly Hankton and hitman Walter Porter found guilty of three murders each in blockbuster racketeering trial

The murderous saga of Central City drug boss Telly Hankton and his lethal admirers culminated Tuesday in a New Orleans federal courtroom, where a jury returned guilty verdicts on 28 of 35 charges in the racketeering case against Hankton, Uptown hit man Walter Porter and Hankton cousins Andre Hankton and Kevin Jackson. Among other crimes, Telly… Continue reading →

New Orleans planning panel signs off on Sidney Torres’ proposed development next to Lafitte Greenway

Photo provided by Edwards Communities -- A residential development envisioned by Sidney Torres will go before City Planning Commission this month.

Plans for two new apartment buildings with ground-floor restaurants along a 5-acre stretch of the Lafitte Greenway in Mid-City won approval Tuesday from the New Orleans City Planning Commission. The project is the first major development proposed along the 3-mile bike path and pedestrian park, which opened last year. It’s the initial… Continue reading →