MCNO Board Meeting of Sept 5, 2006

Minutes of MCNO Board Meeting
Tuesday 9/5/06 at Bayou Coffeehouse (Jeff Davis Pkwy)

In Attendance:
Virginia Blanque
Bart Everson
Michael Homan
Wendy Laker
Natalie Lafont
Richard Lorusso
Doug Pease
Janet Ward Pease
Becker Rutlidge
Miles Trapolin
Erich Weishaupt
Jennifer Weishaupt
Absent with Notice:
Pattye Brignac
Val Dansereau
Ailene Peake
Ron Wismar
Janet Ward Pease agreed to take minutes.
Jim Taylor, MCNO President, had a stroke this past week. He is recovering at West Jefferson and undergoing additional tests. The Board voted to send flowers to Jim.
Falstaff Development – Guest speaker, David Bolton, of Falstaff Associates (“FA”) discussed FA’s plan to renovate the Falstaff Brewery as residential space with some commercial on first floor. FA is asking that the property’s zoning be changed from Heavy Industrial to RM4 which is residential with some commercial allowed. They go before the City Planning Commission next week. David asked MCNO to support the zoning change. However, David was asked for more financial information about the project which he will supply to Wendy Laker by email. Wendy will email the information to the Board along with a form letter of support to the CPC. Board members who wish to support the zoning change will do so individually. There is insufficient time for official action by the MCNO Board before FA goes before the City Planning Commission with its request.
Dibert Charter School
Richard Lorusso explained that a provisional charter has been issued to MCNO for Dibert so it can now open. But Thursday (Sept 7) at 9AM in Baton Rouge, MCNO representatives will be meeting with BESE to ask for final approval. Final approval will be voted on in BESE’s October meting and assuming it passes, MCNO will take over Dibert officially in January, 2007. Richard talked about the MCNO Board’s additional responsibilities and accountability now that they are running Dibert. The firm of EDM will actually be managing the school on a day-to-day basis but the MCNO Board must oversee their work. Issues brought up included getting an annual independent audit of Dibert’s financial activities and buying director’s and officer’s insurance to cover MCNO Board members.
MCNO Bylaws
Bart Everson suggested the “MCNO Bylaw Summary” be adopted as MCNO’s bylaws with a few changes because it is straightforward and fairly complete as written. It was suggested that the governance committee (Wendy and Bart) revise the summary and generate a draft to propose to the Board for the October Board meeting. Current Bylaws say membership must be notified of proposed bylaw changes prior to vote. So, having a draft proposal by early October means that the bylaws can be voted on at the December membership meeting.
Board Members & Committee Heads
Wendy said that MCNO’s Board and its methods of conducting business needs fine-tuning to step up to the demands of the post-Katrina world including the responsibilities for Dibert Charter School. She called for a renewed commitment from Board members to attend once-per-month Board meetings as well as to chair committees. She also suggested new people committed to the planning process should be considered as potential Board members. That means that Board members are not required to continue to serve forever or to be overloaded with work. New people wlling to step up and take responsibility for different aspects of MCNO’s activities should be invited to join the Board.
Membership Committee
Treshelle Reis will no longer be handling MCNO membership. Doug Joubert and his fiance are willing to take over the job in November (after their wedding) and in the meantime, Jennifer Weishaupt will stand in.
Newsletter Committee
Wendy said she would meet afterwards with Natalie Lafont, Michael Holman and Janet Ward Pease to discuss the newsletter.
Holding Blighted Property Owners Accountable
Miles Trapolin is working on a lawsuit for plaintiff MCNO as a test case against an owner of a blighted property and/or a property where zoning laws are being broken. Jennifer said that a property in the 300 block of S. Jefferson Davis is a possible subject for the suit; the owner has illegally turned the property into a “boutique hotel” since Katrina. Bart Everson suggested MCNO sue the owner of Cajun V & T Seafood, a grocery near his home which is swarming with rats and has not been cleaned out since Katrina. Wendy said there are many avenues that can be used against blight in addition to lawsuits including notifying the health inspector of health violations (like rats); notifying the fire inspector of housing overcrowding; and repeatedly sending letters and making phone calls to the owners to demand action. The Board agreed that at present MCNO needs a committee to tackle blighted residential property and another committee to deal with blighted commercial property.
Canvassing the Neighborhood on Sept 9/10
Jennifer discuss the neighborhood canvass planned for this coming weekend. The purpose will be:
1. meet and greet returning neighbors
2. give them welcome letter with info about MCNO website and listserv & other services (like “311”)
3. give them information about the Mid City Recovery Planning process
4. fill out the survey forms for the Unified New Orleans Plan
5. list blighted properties that fall under the “Good Neighbor Program”
6. invite them to MCNO’s next membership meeting
September General Membership Meeting
The next MCNO general membership meeting will be Saturday, September 30th in City Park’s Botannical Gardens from 11AM-12noon. The Art Market will also be held that day. Michael will try to get Warren Easton’s Brass Band to entertain and possibly other bands will be invited. Goals for the meeting include a membership drive; providing attendees with information about the Mid City Recovery Plan and specifically about parts of the plan already being implemented (Dibert Charter School; walking / bike trail through Lafitte Corridor; successes dealing with blighted housing and debris pickup; business forum planned for November; etc.)
Mid-City Planning Process
Boozocracy website has already raised $1,000 for a library in Mid City. Goal is $1 million. It was suggested that a Boozocracy/Library poster should be set up at the Sept 30th membership meeting.
New Business:
Jennifer Weishaupt, who serves as the head of the Economic Development Committee for Mid City Recovery Planning, said she would like to attend a 2-day business incubator conference in Baton Rouge this week and wondered if MCNO would pay her $100 conference registration fee. The Board voted yes to this request. (The Economic Development Committee is planning to start a business incubator in Mid City.)

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