Thursday, April 19, 2007

Parading Fees

Is anyone in the media paying attention to New Orleans anymore? Sure, maybe to score a quick political point, but are they really looking at the rebuilding issues facing NOLA residents? That’s why Downbeat deserves credit for a piece in the May issue, “Disputes Suggest Hardening in Crescent City’s Music Culture,” about the dramatic increase in the fee charged by the city to social clubs for parade permits: “up more than 300 percent, from $1,200 to $3,790.” According to David Kunian’s feature:

“In the past, the Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Norman Dixon Sr. Foundation have paid the fees, but now they can only afford a percentage, and the clubs are forced to come up with the rest.”

Lawsuits are pending (the legal merits of which I won’t speculate on). Clearly, these fee increases, called by many a tax on NOLA’s indigenous culture, will jeopardize the survival of second-lining as it has been known. Of course, some nutroots have blamed this policy on Pres. Bush. Quick review: we have a Federal political system, with separate layers of government. Complaints should be addressed to Mayor Nagin, who has indeed been named in the suit.

If nothing else, this policy seems like the height of ingratitude by the local government. Jazz has certainly let itself be used by the city as a rallying symbol in the city’s fundraising and rebuilding efforts. In Kunian’s piece, Tamara Jackson of the New Orleans Second Line Coalition and Task Force is quoted saying:

“We’re the only culture that is taxed that much. When the city holds special events, they look for second-lines. When we need their support, they’re not there.”

One takes her point. However, with crime on the rise, it might be fair to an extent for the police department to argue their costs of providing security have increased. D.A. Eddie Jordan has made conditions much worse with his refusal to indict all manner of suspected felons, resulting in their eventual release back on the streets in sixty days under Louisiana law. Arguably, second-liners now have another reason to get rid of Jordan.