Thursday, March 3, 2011

Caught in the Lies; Part 2

Since the ridiculous Art Bust at the Blue Nile, on Frenchmen Street (Sunday, 2/27/11) there has been scuttlebutt about what really happened, and why the NOPD would shut down a once a year flea market, in it's 20th year, selling some original costume designs by local artists. The press has carried various accounts so far, and these are the things that have come to light: "There was a problem with retail sales tax." Lie #1. This is an Artist Tax Free Zone, set down by the City of New Orleans, called the St Claude Corridor. Each artist is to keep their own records, and submit the totals, sans actual tax. As far as I know, we pay taxes, albeit documented, by the honor system. When was the last time you saw cops ANYWHERE, checking out register receipts? "The bar had no manager on duty." Lie #2. As a veteran of both bartending in & owning bars in the 8th District, no manager's license is required of the Bar Owner, and if that owner is 'on the floor' no other manager need be present & the bartender is not required to possess a manager's license. The owner was certainly present, as witnesses will prove, and, in fact, spoke to & was ticketed by the NOPD. And then there's this; In a press release (see it here : )

Chief Serpas states:
"The sale was asked to be moved inside
the bar premises at time." 

However, Flea Market founder, Cree McCree, tells me this:

"Chief Serpas is wrong. We were initially told to move
vendors off the sidewalk by two female agents (who I
later learned were from the revenue department).
We had started to do that when a male NOPD officer,
in full blue mufti, said we would have to clear the
premises and shut the entire sale down.
He warned us they would come back to check if we've
complied with that order. Needless to day, we did. 
 We have several witnesses to this action, including
Jesse Paige (Owner of the Blue Nile) himself. 
 Had we merely been asked to clear the sidewalk,
I would certainly have continued the sale inside.
We were totally shut down." 

While Lunanola suggests that this is the work of City Hall,
rather then the NOPD, I would suggest that it is both.

When the Chief of Police has no qualms about openly lying
to the press, how can the officers of the NOPD be expected
to act in a way considered appropriate for members of an
urban police department anywhere?

Certainly, there were permit issues involved.
Perhaps a warning, such as the Revenue Agents seemed
ready to accept, would have sufficed. Closing down the
entire event was pure meanness.

The City has responded, so far, by telling us all that
about $940 in permits are required for a
"market, fair, festival, carnival, circus, road show,
trade show, concert, display, exhibition or other public event." 

It also requires a bond of $10,000 if there are to be more
than 3 vendors, or artists, involved.

I would love to see these rules enforced on the Julia Street
Galleries, the first Saturday of every month, if they are to
be foisted upon the St Claude Art District & other
Marigny/Bywater/St Roch art shows.

If only 20 of the galleries showing on the Second
Saturday Open Gallery Walk in the St Claude Art
District were charged this way, it would equal
$18,800 in permit fees every month to stay afloat. 

Are those of us who returned to these neighborhoods,
post K, and rebuilt them with our own hands, time & money,
to be bilked by the same city that refuses to address the soaring
murder rate, never mind the bully tactics of the 5th District?

I, for one, cannot accept this from a police chief openly
caught in lies.

I urge each & every one of you to begin calling City Hall
( 504 658-4000 ) and asking for Chief Serpas to explain
this series of lies, or step down.



Lord David said...

This mess is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 5th District and Serpas' penchant for 'traffic stops'.

Besides the fact that most of the recent murders in this area were committed by pedestrian criminals, these 'traffic stops' are hardly legal.

Just last week, I sat inside my window, in the dark, watching & listening to a 'traffic stop' just outside. It went like this:

2 guys in one car got pulled over as they stopped at a stop sign.
They asked why.
The cops had them 'step out of the vehicle' and then handcuffed them.
As one was asking "What's going on? What did we do?" The cops told them it was "for your own safety & ours" and searched both of them, and then the vehicle.

After about 20 minutes of this, they were released, confused and still asking what was going on.

"Get going or go to jail" was the response.

Achtung, baby.

mardiclaw said...

well, with this news, I will make sure and report those pesky pyrateweek people, who, will be doing a pyrate oriented market in front of the aquarium. asking $100 for each table. THESE folks deserve what happened at the blue nile.
I'm upset because I just started a market at the hi ho. now, fearing doing it again.
your right, art isn't taxable. and this was sheer BS if ya asked me.

Judy Thorne said...

ridiculous. Aren't there more pressing "crimes" they should be attending to?

Anonymous said...

Was the expected apology ever posted?


Lord David said...

That's a joke, right?

Anonymous said...

police are arbitrary, often wrong. they are not legal scholars, nor could most folks even keep pace with the changes the Louisiana legislature and city council make to ordinances, zoning, taxing, etc ad near infinitum. so they default to "shutting it down."

people need to organize and demand our rights for collective free action and deep direct democracy (so if we are taxed it would be for things and priorities we can consent on and feel good about).

Art should be everywhere, not just in galleries in a gentrifying arts district. We need to change from art markets to art education, where the emphasis is placed on imaginative, creative thinking outside the mores of traditional society rather than economic exchange.

That said, the police have no right or jurisdiction to stop free association whatever form it takes.