Unsound Ordinance

On Thursday, City Council rammed through the “first reading” of a scurrilous draft Sound Ordinance with impossibly low decibel limits recommended by a questionable audiometrician paid by VCPORA’s Prerogative Tendency, overriding the levels recommended by the city’s own consultant, Dave Woolworth.

Their objective can only be to deepen even further a complaint-driven entertainment anti-culture where the deep pockets of the VCPORA gentry and their leader and attack litigator Stuart H. Smith can dominate.

When they use these unrealistically low sound levels to justify lawsuits and to try to get police shut-downs, the well-funded noise factories of Bourbon Street will come out okay. They can either pay the fine, pacify the enforcers, or hire effective attorneys to back the process into a corner with constitutional challenges which the local court can’t handle and the Supremes won’t be bothered with, so the cases sit in limbo like Bleak House.

But smaller, newer venues, events and street bands, where some new music might emerge – they won’t be able to come close to affording it. The gentrifiers’ suppression will take hold. Venues will have to either shut down the music, or get driven out of business. Perhaps it is the city establishment’s strategy: to leave us with just tourist music and a few big names in big sites, with no sense that they are strangling the future. And for what? Increasing the radius of the comfort zone for a few property owners claiming special privilege.

Just as bad: Kristin Palmer, CM for District C which includes the FQ, Marigny and Bywater, who might have been closest to understanding this, and was main sponsor of the Woolworth study, has decided not to run for re-election. District C, which includes the French Quarter and the Marigny, will be handed over to Jackie Clarkson in the spring – the unreliable matriarch and dragon of the council, or some might say, the scourge of music that ain’t tourist theme park stuff, who has exhausted all the intentions of term limits, now finding another way to hold on and help maintain the iron grip of our own Bayou-based one percent.

The elections are coming up. To keep New Orleans alive and fun, we need to act, or the cold, bony hand of privilege will extend its grip even further into the cultural life of your city.


Sounds in trouble

Troubled Sounds


Bob Freilich / 22 December 2013



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