Friday, September 21, 2007

3rd place fits bill for N.O. contract Times Picayune

Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

March 16, 2005 Wednesday

3rd place fits bill for N.O. contract;
Winning firm rated last, lacks experience

BYLINE: By Martha Carr, Staff writer


LENGTH: 2734 words

Mayor Ray Nagin has awarded a politically active company with no experience in the criminal justice field a contract to create a home monitoring program for municipal offenders, a deal the Nagin administration says could save the city hundreds of thousands in jail costs this year alone.

The mayor passed over two higher-scoring bidders to award a one-year contract with five one-year extensions to Community Based Corrections LLC, a local, minority-owned company created in October 2003 by Burnell Moliere, Jimmie Woods and Ray Valdes. All three have close political ties to District Attorney Eddie Jordan and former Mayor Marc Morial.

A three-person selection committee gave Community Based Corrections the lowest score of the three qualifying bidders, city documents show. The company's price also was the highest, but the mayor allowed CBC to rework its proposal to bring costs more in line with the other two bids, records show.

The contract is capped at $3 million, but the value depends on how many offenders are ordered to enroll.

Neither of the two competing bidders, which included another local, minority-owned firm, was allowed to resubmit their proposals for the Municipal Court job.

The city did renegotiate, however, with minority-owned Total Sentencing Alternatives Program, which received the second highest score, to provide electronic monitoring in Criminal District Court under a separate contract. That contract has yet to be finalized.

Because the contracts are for professional services, Nagin is not required by law to select the lowest bidder.

While the mayor previously has clashed with some of the politicians that CBC's officers are close to, campaign records show that companies owned by Moliere and Woods have begun contributing to Nagin since he took charge at City Hall.

Metro Disposal, a trash-hauling company owned by Woods, gave the mayor $2,500 in February 2003 and another $2,500 in May 2004. Moliere's janitorial company, AME Services, contributed $5,000 to Nagin in February 2003. Both companies received public contracts under Morial and have maintained them during the current administration.

Nagin campaign finance records filed with the state report no donations by either of the two firms that bid unsuccessfully against CBC or by their chief executive officers.

But Nagin's chief administrative officer, Charles Rice, said politics played no part in the mayor's selection of CBC. Rather, the mayor wanted to save the city money and help out local, minority-owned businesses. When asked why the city didn't award both contracts to Total Sentencing Alternatives Program, the minority bidder with the most experience and a higher rating by the selection committee, Rice said the mayor wanted to "spread the wealth."

"I think what the public needs to know is that we selected two vendors, both African-American owned companies, both local vendors, and if we can receive the same service at virtually the same cost from a local vendor, I think it's in the city's best interest to keep the money here at home and employ local people rather than send the money to Georgia," Rice said, referring to the highest-rated and cheapest bidder, PPS of Lawrenceville, Ga.

PPS is a subsidiary of the publicly traded company Universal Health Services.

Rice also said it is his understanding that Valdes is no longer a principal of CBC. Moliere said that's true, but that Valdes continues to provide marketing services for the company. Former Jefferson Parish Council President Robert Evans Jr. also worked for a time as the company's executive vice president, according to CBC's bid documents. Moliere said Evans is no longer with the company.

Cheaper way to monitor

Home monitoring systems have become popular in recent years as cities nationwide grapple with the skyrocketing costs of incarceration. Using voice recognition technology, electronic bracelets or GPS tracking, home monitoring allows nonviolent offenders to remain out of jail while fulfilling the terms of their court sentence.

Proponents say it's an especially viable concept in Municipal Court, where judges typically deal with minor offenses, such as public drunkenness, lewd conduct or criminal trespassing.

But until now, Municipal Court has used home monitoring on a limited basis, with the offender picking up the cost. Rice said enrollment wasn't high enough to significantly cut the city's jail costs, which have ballooned from $29 million in 2002 to $35.1 million last year for all offenders.

"We live in a very poor city, and most of the individuals in Municipal Court are indigent and do not have the financial wherewithal to pay costs," Rice said.

So the city has moved to government-financed home monitoring system, which Municipal Judge John Shea said gives judges an alternative to throwing offenders in jail when they don't pay fines. Last year, almost 34,000 offenders went to jail after failing to pay court-ordered fines, Municipal Court Clerk Ronald Lampard said.

Now, instead of paying $22.39 a day to keep a municipal prisoner in jail, the city will pay $7.73 to CBC for voice monitoring and probation management, a potential savings of $14.66 per day.

The city is required to pay the cost of jailing residents who break city laws, as well as those awaiting trial on state charges.

If CBC monitors 250 to 400 offenders a day -- an average that city officials say is a reasonable estimate -- it could save taxpayers $1.3 million to $2.1 million a year.

In the program's first two months, a total of 364 offenders were enrolled, at a cost savings of $159,030, Moliere said.

How it works

The monitoring works like this:

An offender is sentenced to home monitoring, and a case worker develops a call schedule to fit the nature of the offense. The offender then calls in and registers his or her voice, and is paged, or required to call in on a prescribed schedule, depending upon where the offender is supposed to be at a certain time. If an offender fails to call in or the system detects another voice, the authorities are notified.

Rice said there is no way the city can lose under the program. CBC doesn't get paid unless offenders enroll in the program, and the more offenders enroll, the greater the savings in jail costs, he said. Judges also have the option of requiring an offender to pay for the monitoring, city officials said.

"I assure you this is not set up for anybody to make a killing off of anything," Rice said. "It's all about reducing the amount of money we pay to the sheriff, and making things more efficient."

A spokeswoman for Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, whose budget could be adversely affected by a decrease in jail population, said the sheriff has seen little impact thus far.

Lowest bidder skipped

But records show the city could have saved more had it awarded the contract to the low bidder.

The city's request for proposals was broken down into three parts: home monitoring, probation management and fine collection.

If the city had hired PPS, the cheapest bidder and the company with the highest score from the selection committee, it would be paying $7.50 per day for voice monitoring and probation management, compared with $7.73 a day with CBC.

Although the difference is nominal, CBC also gets 10 percent of every delinquent fine it collects, down from the 38 percent it originally proposed. PPS offered to do fine collection free of charge.

Clay Cox, chief executive officer for PPS, said even CBC's lowered price accounts for some "good margins." He also said his company would have welcomed an opportunity to renegotiate its bid.

"Getting a percentage of a fine and a fee, that's crazy," Cox said. "There is plenty of money to be made by doing it right and treating people fairly. The fine money belongs to the taxpayers."

William Welch, chief executive officer of Total Sentencing Alternatives Program, declined to comment because of his company's ongoing negotiations to monitor pretrial detainees in criminal court using electronic bracelets.

But the president of ShadowTrack Technologies, the Covington subcontractor CBC originally proposed to do the voice monitoring, said his company typically charges offenders $4.50 a day to enroll in the program, which accounts for the cost of the service and a profit to his company. Comparatively, the city has agreed to pay CBC $6.75 a day for the same type of service.

ShadowTrack did not submit an independent bid.

Short on experience

In addition to the price issue, the city selected the firm with the least experience in the criminal justice field.

Woods runs a trash-hauling company. Moliere's experience is in janitorial services and public housing, according to his resume. Valdes has worked as a financier specializing in large municipal leases.

In comparison, PPS has been in the electronic monitoring business for 16 years and holds contracts with the cities of Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Montgomery, Ala., to name a few. The company also worked with judges in New Orleans municipal and traffic courts for two years doing electronic monitoring, probation monitoring and fine collection, with offenders picking up the cost of the service, according to its bid.

TSAP began working as a protégé of PPS when the company was under contract to New Orleans' municipal and traffic courts in 2000 and 2001, and it has run the program on its own since then. It has five years of experience working in Orleans Parish courts, according to its bid.

As for CBC, the New Orleans contract is its first major job. The company has no real experience. In its bid, it cited instead the experience of three subcontractors it proposed using, including ShadowTrack.

None of the subcontractors listed in the bid is now working on the contract, Rice said.

Subcontractor severs ties

ShadowTrack president Robert Magaletta said he cut off his relationship with CBC late last year after the company first asked him to lower his price, then, without notifying him, approached a competing vendor about working on the city contract.

ShadowTrack had been with CBC from the start, signing the company on as its exclusive dealer in the metro area in October 2003. But CBC produced no significant business for ShadowTrack, Magaletta said, never having more than 10 private-pay offenders on the service at any one time.

Magaletta also said he grew increasingly leery of dealing with Woods and Valdes, who have received subpoenas from a federal grand jury investigating city contracts meted out during Morial's administration.

"I had been hearing about the problems these people were having involved with city of New Orleans," he said. "I just preferred to stay away from this group."

Moliere said in a written statement that the separation was because of "philosophical business differences and different approaches to the marketplace."

He also said CBC has provided services to criminal courts in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, New Orleans Traffic Court, and the Louisiana Department of Parole and Probation. When asked whether the company held any contracts with those agencies, Moliere said it had relationships with individual judges and agencies, but no formal contracts. He did not specify a total number of clients enrolled.

CBC replaced ShadowTrack with Biometric Corp. of Dallas, whose president says the company has six years of experience in voice-based home incarceration systems.

CBC has hired its own staff to provide probation services, Rice said. For fine collection, the company has partnered with Gavin & Associates, a woman-owned company that will fulfill the 35 percent disadvantaged business enterprise goal for the contract, Rice said.

New York deal under fire

But what CBC lacks in practical experience, it more than makes up for when it comes to the politics of cutting deals with governments.

Although the New Orleans contract has drawn little attention, a similar CBC arrangement in Buffalo, N.Y., is being investigated by the FBI.

Erie County comptroller Nancy Naples has alleged that George A. Holt Jr., chairman of the county legislature, attempted to secretly award CBC a $3 million no-bid contract by slipping in a last-minute budget amendment in a late-night meeting Dec. 8. Naples told the Buffalo News last week that she was interviewed by federal agents for more than an hour about what she says was an "illegal" deal.

When questioned about the amendment, Holt told the Buffalo News that his staff inadvertently specified Community Based Corrections in the resolution, when his intent was only to reserve money for a later competitive bidding process. Holt has agreed to meet with FBI agents later this week.

He also told the newspaper that he flew to New Orleans in August to visit the firm, during which time CBC's principals held a fund-raiser for him at Pampy's Creole Kitchen, a political hot spot owned by Morial confidant Stan Barre. Campaign finance reports show that Holt received three checks at that function: $500 from Woods, $200 from Barre and $250 from bail bondsman Blair Boutte.

Barre, who has been subpoenaed in the ongoing federal probe of contracts awarded under Morial, said he has nothing to do with Community Based Corrections.

"I'm telling you, I wish those guys well, but I've got nothing to do with that bracelet stuff."

As for his contribution to Holt, Barre said: "I think I wrote him a check because Burnell (Moliere) begged like I don't know what, and he's a good customer," Barre said.

Boutte, president of the small eastern New Orleans political organization DOVE, also confirmed writing Holt a check. But he said he is not affiliated with CBC and did not attend the fund-raiser at Pampy's.

Holt got only one other contribution during the six-month reporting period that ended Jan. 15. He told the Buffalo News that accepting the $500 from Woods was a mistake and that he intends to return the money.

Active in politics

In New Orleans, the political connections necessary for deal-making were already well established.

Woods has a piece of the city's waste disposal contract through his company Metro Disposal Inc. Woods also has served on fund-raising committees for Jordan and donated $10,000 to Morial's third-term effort through Metro Disposal.

Moliere's Norco-based janitorial company, AME Services, has major contracts with the Orleans Parish School Board and the New Orleans Aviation Board. However, Schools Superintendent Tony Amato has threatened in recent months to cancel AME's contract, claiming the company has collected millions while leaving campuses filthy.

Moliere also contributed to Jordan, served on his fund-raising committees and headed his transition team. Moliere and AME Services contributed $10,000 to Morial's attempt at a third term.

Valdes, based in Metairie, arranged the financing for numerous high-dollar equipment leases at City Hall during Morial's tenure, including a controversial $81 million energy-efficiency contract with Johnson Controls Inc. that has been a focus of the ongoing federal investigation of Morial-era contracts. Valdes also arranged leases for hundreds of city buses, police cars and other vehicles. Top Nagin officials have complained bitterly about the above-market financing fees in some of those deals, which won't be completely paid off until 2022.

The financier contributed $5,000 to Jordan's 2002 campaign for district attorney through one of his companies, American Lease Financing LLC. He and a relative also made corporate and personal contributions of $15,000 to Morial's third-term bid. Valdes is the ex-husband of former Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Anne Marie Vandenweghe.

Metro Disposal and AME Services have likewise come under criticism from the Nagin administration.

In hiring Kimberly Williamson Butler as his first chief administrative officer, Nagin approvingly cited an episode in which Butler, as director of the Downtown Development District, refused to cave into political pressure and award a street-cleaning contract to AME.

Metro Disposal, meanwhile, was written up and briefly put on probation by former Sanitation Director Lynn Wiltz, who said in memos that the company had failed to live up to parts of its contract. Wiltz was fired a few months later, and Rice has said he is satisfied with Metro Disposal's performance.

Ditto for AME, he said.

"My experience with AME has been positive," he said. "They've done a pretty good job for us maintaining Gallier Hall and several other buildings."

Monitoring political games -- Times Picayune editorial

Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

March 17, 2005 Thursday

Monitoring political games


LENGTH: 535 words

You'd think Mayor Ray Nagin would want to foster companies like Total Sentencing Alternatives Program.

The company is locally based. It has several years of experience in running a home monitoring program for Orleans Parish courts. Its owners are African-American, and encouraging the growth of minority-owned businesses has been a goal of Mayor Nagin and his recent predecessors.

After New Orleans advertised a contract to create a home-monitoring program for municipal offenders, an evaluation committee ranked TSAP's proposal second among three. But you could argue that the company deserved the contract -- or at least a chance to improve its bid.

Apparently, though, TSAP lacked the connections necessary to land the Municipal Court contract. So did the highest-rated firm, Georgia-based PPS, which offered the best prices and has been doing similar work across the country for 16 years.

In a decision that looks like pure political hackery, city officials gave the Municipal Court job to the lowest-ranked bidder, Community Based Corrections LLC. Never mind that the company submitted the highest-price proposal; the city gave CBC, but not its competitors, the chance to come back with a lower price, and the firm obliged.

Home monitoring systems use electronic technology to keep track of nonviolent offenders, and it can be an effective, low-cost alternative to putting people in jail. Chief Administrative Officer Charles Rice is touting the contract as a money-saver.

And maybe it will be. But it's hard to imagine an innocent reason why Mayor Nagin would award a monitoring contract to a company with no significant experience in the area.

The firm was created only in October 2003 by Burnell Moliere, Jimmie Woods and Ray Valdes. Mr. Moliere has a janitorial business. Mr. Woods runs a trash-hauling company. Mr. Valdes, whom company officials say is no longer a principal there, has worked as a financier in large municipal leases. All three men have been involved in lucrative public contracts in New Orleans in the past, and all three have political ties to District Attorney Eddie Jordan and former Mayor Marc Morial.

In awarding them the Municipal Court contract, Mayor Nagin wasn't just helping someone else's supporters. Companies owned by Mr. Woods and Mr. Moliere have contributed thousands of dollars to Mayor Nagin's campaign fund since 2003. Campaign finance records show no such contributions from PPS or TSAP.

PPS' experience might give nonlocal firms pause about bidding on contracts in New Orleans. On some level, taxpayers needn't shed too many tears for TSAP. The Nagin administration is negotiating with the company for a separate monitoring contract at Criminal District Court.

Nevertheless, it's unfortunate that an experienced, locally-based, minority-owned firm lost the Municipal Court job to a politically connected company -- one that will give much of the work to a subcontractor in Dallas. Asked why TSAP didn't get both contracts, Mr. Rice said the mayor wanted to "spread the wealth" between two firms owned by African-Americans. But CBC's owners have benefited handsomely from public largess in the past. Far from helping New Orleans' have-nots, the CBC deal has rewarded the already-haves.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)

September 15, 1996 Sunday,



LENGTH: 1807 words

In the battle over which pro hockey league will win the right to play in New Orleans, Mayor Marc Morial has already picked sides, and it could cost the city a better brand of hockey.

On Sept. 3, Morial called a news conference to announce that a group of local investors would try to bring an East Coast Hockey League team called the New Orleans Brass to town next fall and that the team most likely would play its first season at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.

The announcement came as a surprise to the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which has spent the past year trying to lure the higher-ranking, and potentially more lucrative, International Hockey League.

Morial's announcement even took some of the prospective Brass investors, most of whom have close ties to him, off guard.

"I don't see what the big rush was," said one of the investors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We don't even have a signed partnership agreement yet."

But timing may be everything.

In an effort to get a leg up on the International Hockey League, which is just one rung below the top-of-the-line National Hockey League, Brass owners want to put their team on the ice next fall, preferably by signing a short-term lease for the UNO arena.

Eventually, both leagues hope to win over state officials and land a contract to bring their team to the new arena being built next to the Louisiana Superdome. The $84 million arena is scheduled to be ready for the 1998-99 season.

If the Brass' strategy succeeds, the East Coast Hockey League not only would get a one-year jump on the rival but would tie up the market. Sports marketing experts say New Orleans can't support two teams.

But the Brass strategy faces several obstacles.

First, the ownership group is shaky. At least one investor said last week that he is considering bailing out.

Second, the UNO arena might not work for hockey. George Lewis, arena general manager, said every other prospective group has passed once it found out how expensive it would be to bring hockey to UNO.

"Anything is doable if you have the time and money, but is it cost-feasible? For one year? I can't see how," Lewis said.

Another option is to use the city-owned Municipal Auditorium, which has more than twice the floor space and easily could accommodate a rink, but Morial said he is not ready to endorse that idea.

Despite the challenges facing the group, local lawyer Roy Rodney, a Morial confidant who would own a piece of the Brass, said the chances of successfully bringing the East Coast Hockey League to New Orleans are "100 percent."

Ray Nagin, another Brass investor, said, "Our focus is to get up and running next year, and it is going to take one hell of a force to stop us from making that date."

The idea of bagging an East Coast Hockey League franchise was brought to Nagin nine months ago by Emmett Moten, a former New Orleanian who is now a top executive for Mike Ilitch, owner of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings. The Brass would be affiliated with the Red Wings, which would provide managerial and other support.

Moten, like most aficionados, had been astonished to see how quickly the sport took off in Lafayette, where the rookie IceGators shattered East Coast Hockey League attendance records by drawing almost 10,000 fans per game in their first season. Leaguewide, East Coast Hockey League clubs averaged 4,900 fans per game last year.

Intrigued by the idea, Nagin, who is the top executive for Cox Communications in Louisiana, began recruiting other investors. One of the first to sign on was Rodney. Others included David White, who owns four McDonald's restaurants in New Orleans, and Stan Barre, owner of Pampy's nightclub in Mid-City.

A couple of months ago, Nagin's team merged with another investor group looking into the East Coast Hockey League. That group included local shopping center developer Darryl Berger, real estate investors Wayne and David Ducote, and Steve Rittvo, president of Urban Systems Inc.

The combined entity, which incorporated as New Orleans Brass Inc. in August, has strong ties to the Morial administration. Six of its eight members have been major campaign contributors to his mayoral campaigns, giving Morial a total of $55,400 in the past three years, campaign finance records show.

The biggest contributor has been Barre, a close friend and political fund-raiser for Morial, who gave him $20,000 between 1993 and 1995.

Barre's ties to Morial date back to the mayor's father, former Mayor Dutch Morial. A former vice squad detective, Barre worked as a driver and aide for Dutch Morial's chief administrative officer, Reynard Rochon. Barre also helped lead an unsuccessful 1983 petition drive to let Dutch Morial run for a third term.

Morial has said Pampy's Restaurant & Bar is one of his favorite hangouts.

Marc Morial asked Rodney to spearhead the city's negotiations with Harrah's Jazz Co. even before Morial took office. Rodney has been the city's chief negotiator during Harrah's bankruptcy proceedings. He has a contract with the Rivergate Development Corp., the public benefit corporation the city set up to be the casino's landlord, which pays him $125 an hour.

Rodney's other partners also have ties to the mayor:

In 1994, Morial hired one of Nagin's key assistants, Michele Moore, to be his director of communications. Moore had been Cox's chief lobbyist and community relations manager. Nagin contributed $3,000 to the mayor in 1995.

Rittvo is an urban planner whose firm, Urban Systems Inc., has been involved in major New Orleans projects dating back to Dutch Morial's term in office, including designing the traffic pattern for the 1984 world's fair and the parking lot for the failed River City casino boats on the Mississippi River.

Berger is a major New Orleans developer with longtime ties to Morial and his family. Berger has contributed $7,500 to Morial's mayoral campaigns, and his firm, Darryl Berger & Associates, contributed $1,000 to Rebuild New Orleans, a group formed to finance an advertising campaign in 1995 promoting Morial's $172 million capital improvements program.

Rodney said the group's connections to the Morial administration have nothing to do with the mayor's endorsement of the Brass proposal.

"Marc Morial hasn't done anything for us at all, except to say he'd welcome the team," Rodney said. "And we haven't asked him to do anything."

But Morial said he has talked with members of the Brass investor group about letting them lease the Municipal Auditorium for the 1997-98 season. In fact, one Brass investor said he thought his group already had a tentative deal.

"I didn't say no, but I also didn't say absolutely, yes, come on down," Morial said. "Like all of these things, you have to sit down and discuss what's possible. We'd lease the auditorium to anybody who has a check."

The UNO arena remains the preferred option, but the arena's floor space is 50 feet too short for professional hockey, UNO officials said. To expand the arena and build a rink probably would cost $1.5 million to $2 million, sports experts said.

Rodney said the group has budgeted about $1.2 million for the project. But Nagin said the investors are prepared to pay no more than a few hundred thousand dollars of that amount.

Doug Thornton, president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, said it would be difficult to persuade Gov. Foster to pick up the rest of the tab for the state-owned facility because the state already is planning to build a downtown arena.

"I would not want to lobby for that," he said.

If the Brass group ends up cutting a deal for the Municipal Auditorium, Rodney said he would recuse himself from the negotiations. "There will be no conflict of interest, either real or imagined, under any circumstances," said Rodney, who handled the negotiations over Harrah's vacating the Municipal Auditorium, where it operated a temporary casino in 1995, and is paying to restore it for public use.

Harrah's executives have said the restoration plans could accommodate a rink.

Besides trying to find a short-term home for their team, Brass investors hope eventually to win a lease for the new downtown arena. That could be another tough sell.

Foster has said the state will sign a lease with whichever league offers the best deal.

"I do like the idea of the (regional) competition that comes with the East Coast league, but that does not represent a commitment on my part to the East Coast league," Foster said. "Whatever deal we agree to has got to be the most competitive."

The East Coast Hockey League's Southern Division includes franchises in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala. The nearest International Hockey League competitor would be in Houston.

Typically, International Hockey League teams have paid about twice as much in rent as their East Coast Hockey League counterparts. In arenas managed by SMG, formerly Spectacor Management Group, East Coast tenants pay $2,500 to $4,000 per game in rent, while International tenants pay $10,000 to $12,000 per game, said Glenn Mon, general manager of the Superdome and vice president of stadiums and arenas for SMG.

Mon said New Orleans almost landed a team earlier this year. He said an International Hockey League franchise owner eager to move his club to the Crescent City visited in February to line up dates at the Superdome. But, after a few months of work, both sides concluded they weren't able to swing a deal.

The problem, Mon said, was clearing 45 straight days to build a rink in the Dome.

The league hasn't quit trying, however. Thornton said two prospects are still pursuing a deal in New Orleans. One involves an ownership group in Texas that hopes to bring an expansion franchise to town, and the second is a current owner who wants to relocate his team and considers New Orleans his best option.

Thornton said both prospects are committed to the market and hope to get a team here for the 1998-99 season.

Morial said he doesn't take the International Hockey League prospects seriously, partly because neither group has any local ownership. "I strongly favor local ownership," he said.

Thornton said the Texas investors are seeking local investors for their group.

Which league would do best in New Orleans? Saints owner Tom Benson, who also tried to bring an International Hockey League team to the city but gave up last year after failing to get dates at the Superdome, said he strongly favors the International Hockey League.

"I think the IHL is the premium deal for New Orleans," he said. "The ECHL is a brand-new sort of league that has expanded very rapidly and is located in smaller markets. The IHL has been around for 50 years and is in major markets. I think New Orleans is that type of city."