the lens

Bob Marshall / The Lens

The idea that grass can armor anything is hard to believe.

But on a recent visit to the Lake Pontchartrain levee, LSU agronomist Jeff Beasley explained how plain old, garden variety grass has earned a reputation with the US Army Corps of Engineers as one of the best armoring materials to keep the huge mud walls of a levee from collapsing during a storm.

"You know how we reinforce concrete with rebar?" says Beasley. "We can do the same with these levees."

Landrieu Requests $100 Million For Charity Hospital

Nov 4, 2013

Mayor Mitch Landrieu applied for $100 million in state construction funds on Friday to redevelop the former Charity Hospital building. Renovating the building would cost around $300 million, and revitalize a moribund stretch of downtown.

It is highly unlikely that Governor Bobby Jindal and state legislators will give Mayor Landrieu the full $100 million next year. He asked for $100 million this year as well. He got $13 million.

Developer Pres Kabacoff's Plan For Downtown

Sep 25, 2013
Tyler Bridges / The Lens

Developer Pres Kabacoff says he is a man on a mission to transform downtown. If the city center can be revitalized, he says, and the river can be connected to the lake, it would transform the entire city of New Orleans.

Boom And Blight In Mid-City

Sep 19, 2013
Karen Gadbois

The problem of blight in New Orleans has hardly disappeared with the uptick in the city’s housing market. And on one quiet block in Mid-City, a very hot piece of real estate and a blighted home are existing side by side.

Local contractor Pete Becnel sold his renovated D’Hemecourt Street house in 24 hours. Just next door sits a house abandoned since Katrina. The crudely fashioned escape hatch from the roof is still visible.

Governor Bobby Jindal vowed not to raise taxes, of any type. Instead, he has maintained the budget with spending cuts, meaning deep cuts in areas like higher education and health care.

Tyler Bridges — a reporter at The Lens, New Orleans’ investigative newsroom — has been looking into another way the governor has been able to balance the budget. Bridges says Jindal has largely drained public funds for economic development, taking hundreds of millions from the Rainy Day fund and the so-called "mega-development" fund.

Earlier this week, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed a lawsuit blaming almost 100 companies for contributing to the disappearance of Louisiana’s wetlands by dredging thousands of miles of canals and extracting oil and gas.

Karen Gadbois

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority still holds many properties that owners ceded to government control through the Road Home program after Hurricane Katrina. Many of those were sold to neighbors who lived next door. Others were auctioned.

But some Road Home residential lots have been taken over by the business next door. A change in property use, from a residence to a business, is supposed to come with an official zoning process.

Steve Myers / The Lens

The Lens, New Orleans’ investigative newsroom, has been following up on money distributed by the Nola for Life Fund. That’s the grant-making arm of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s hallmark campaign against violence, launched last year.

Charles Maldonado reports on government transparency for The Lens. He sat down with WWNO’s Eve Troeh to talk about his investigation into one nonprofit that received Nola 4 Life funds: It’s called Family Center of Hope.

HANO

This week, The Lens, New Orleans’ investigative newsroom, has the latest on developments at HANO, the Housing Authority of New Orleans. The state-chartered agency runs publicly subsidized housing in the city, and serves up to 17,000 New Orleans families. It has been under control of the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, for abut 17 years.

Charter School Group May Owe More Than $250K For Student Meals

May 16, 2013
Flickr, creativecommons.org

In a report over at The Lens today, Charter School Reporting Corps member Della Hasselle digs into a conflict between the state's Recovery School District and ReNEW Schools, a charter school group which oversees several Orleans Parish schools.

Hasselle and Steve Myers, Managing Editor of The Lens, came to WWNO to discuss the story.

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