History

The Jazz Tax

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Writing in In These Times, Fatima Shaik describes a threat to the famous "second line" parades of New Orleans. A longstanding tradition rooted in the city's mutual aid societies and closely linked to the early history of jazz, the marches have recently faced steep hikes in city fees:

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, one club, the Original Pigeontown Steppers, whose name designates the neighborhood and the dance, was charged $1,200 pre-Katrina for police escorts. This year, police requested $7,500 before dropping the fee to $2,400.

secondline

Representing the task force, the ACLU challenged the price rises for permit fees in U.S. District Court. The police and the task force came to an agreement on April 25 that the standard cost for fees in the future would be $1,985 for five hours of security.

And the court ruled that the cost could not be raised for the 21 clubs that are members of the task force. But other clubs that weren't parties in the suit will need to negotiate with the police on their own. A better step, [Tamara Jackson of the New Orleans Social, Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force] says, would be enacting legislation to protect and govern all neighborhood clubs similar to rules governing Mardi Gras organizations.

According to Shaik, the parades' roots go back centuries. "The gestures in the second line dances date back to Africa," she writes. "In New Orleans, the dances were documented in 1819 by Benjamin Latrobe in Congo Square where slaves came on Sundays. Their gatherings were shut down at various times, notably when the city authorities wanted more control."

For more history, go here.

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  1. I saw the New Birth Brass Band down in New Orleans during the last Jazz Fest. Good stuff, that.

  2. Why should the taxpayers pick up the tab for security measures for a private organization? If the club doesn’t like the price the police offered, hire some security guards.

    It would be different if the police presence was mandatory, but the article didn’t indicate that was the case. And if the police presence wasn’t mandatory, and the actual cost to the taxpayers was $7,500, and the negotiated price represented a politically-motivated subsidy to placate club members, shouldn’t the article be bashing the club, not the police?

    The article didn’t seem to give enough facts to justify the slant it gave.

  3. It would be different if the police presence was mandatory, but the article didn’t indicate that was the case.

    Look closer. Note the word “permit.”

  4. “The article didn’t seem to give enough facts to justify the slant it gave.”

    Consider who wrote it.

  5. Justin M. Stoddard | June 7, 2007, 2:59pm | #
    I saw the New Birth Brass Band down in New Orleans during the last Jazz Fest. Good stuff, that.

    No doubt. If you like this kind of stuff, I highly recommend =

    – Dirty Dozen Brass Band (jazzy)
    – Treme Brass Band (more traditional, bluesy)
    – Rebirth Brass Band (funky party style)
    – Bonerama (brass ‘funk rock’)
    – The Hot 8

    ..and of course, the Original Preservation Hall Band (traditional)

    All of it is awesome stuff. If you’ve never seen the rebirth band live, try to. They do a killer party. I think Dirty Dozen just came out with a new CD as well… They have one of the richest catalogs of albums, a lot of diversity in their stuff, ranging from traditional to experimental.

  6. It would be different if the police presence was mandatory, but the article didn’t indicate that was the case.

    Look closer. Note the word “permit.”

    Note the word “illegal” in “illegal immigration”… I think they should just tell the Gov’t to “fuck off”– What is the Gov’t going to do… Deport them all?

  7. N.O. was a cesspit of big city corruption before Katrina. Nice to see there rebuilding it just the way it was.

  8. Note the word “illegal” in “illegal immigration”… I think they should just tell the Gov’t to “fuck off”– What is the Gov’t going to do… Deport them all?

    Umm no, their going to oppress them and extort them. Any troublemakers are made examples of.

  9. You know I am sure a platoon of Libertarian miliamen and women could protect them and keep order for less.
    What do you thing?
    Another case crying out for the Libertarian militia.

  10. “It would be different if the police presence was mandatory, but the article didn’t indicate that was the case.

    Look closer. Note the word “permit.”

    So, in the process of negotiating with the city over the price to pay, they couldn’t offer to pay a token fee for the permit itself, and say, “We’ll take care of security ourselves, so let’s take payment for police services, clean-up afterward, etc. off the table, and just compensate you for the cost of processing this completely unnecessary paperwork for the completely unnecessary permit?”

    Yeah, yeah, I know … New Orleans, gotta grease some palms to get things done. Still.

  11. I know of second lines at Mardi Gras and at funerals. You would think that there would be no need of a permit.

    Of course, as a NOLA native, I know the laws in are screwy. You are required to hire police detail for wedding receptions that serve alcohol.

  12. jh,

    It isn’t really about New Orleans corruption. If you honestly think you can go up to City Hall and tell them, “oh, I’ll just pay for security myself” you have a lot to learn about local government. You will get police union member security, you will get it at the price the police union and the local government think is “fair”, and you will like it. And if you don’t, then you won’t march in their town.

  13. Why would it cost more post-Katrina when the population of the city is less. It seems you would need less police protection.

  14. I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say,
    These permits cost too damn much to pay…

  15. Their gatherings were shut down at various times, notably when the city authorities wanted more control.

    Bingo.

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