NOWCRJ'S IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TO CITY COUNCIL BUDGET APPROVAL
To OUR Community,
The staff and members of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) are reaching out to you all with a public response to today’s New Orleans City Council (NOCC) meeting. More specifically, we are responding to the approval of an $850 million-plus operating budget for the city of New Orleans, with most of that funding going to the criminal legal system departments such as the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO), The District Attorney’s Office, The Courts, and much more!
We are shocked and disappointed in the Mayor and the Council’s continued disregard. They have wholly ignored our pleas for investment in our people, transparency, and accessible meeting space to participate in the ARPA allocation process. As a result, the allocation of funding explicitly meant for the economic recovery of New Orleans’ residents after the COVID-19 pandemic has been made without its residents’ input.
Today’s budget approval is a clear sign to the residents of New Orleans - the advocates, victims of violence and sexual violence, those experiencing the housing crisis, poverty and food insecurity, and so much more - that their voices do not matter!
We are deeply concerned about the lack of transparency and clear communication regarding allocating over $380 Million of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding! There was no notice to the community at large that the funds would be apportioned within the overall operating budget, nor was the agenda clear regarding specific dollar amounts being distributed from the funds to each department. The Mayor, in her Budget Proposal to the Council in late October, explicitly stated that ARP funding would be decided AFTER the annual budget, and the council agreed.
NOWCRJ, along with our members, partner organizations, and allies, have continuously advocated for the equitable allocation of these funds. We also asked for a seat at the table for the community, expressly the workers deemed “ESSENTIAL” during the heights of the global pandemic, to inform the city’s approach to the recovery process.
All meeting requests were ignored. Our proposal with recommendations, sent to the council weeks ago, has yet to receive a response. The demands we made with over 12 organizational endorsements - that included a community endorsement list of over 250 signatures - were disregarded!
We hope that the Mayor and City Council of New Orleans take the implications of leaving its citizens out of the process of ensuring our economic and social survival seriously. Those of us who elected every one of them into office will be voting again.
The fight continues. Join our first monthly meeting of 2023 on January 5th from 7-9 pm at 3500 Canal St., 2nd floor, and be a part of the solution (we'll provide food, interpretation in Spanish, and childcare). We need every one of you to be with us as we continue to show up for the Workers of New Orleans and for each other! \
The Workers Center