On January 10, 2014: Judge Tiffany Chase, Civil District Judge Division A - New Orleans, LA dismissed her appeal because we submitted the appeal one day late. “I was told by the Clerk's office that we had 10 business days; Louisiana ATC said that I only had 10 calendar days.”
“Judge Chase ruled in the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC)'s favor and I was given no opportunity to argue the case" said Riley.
Next the Louisiana ATC, Troy Hebert denied the second Alcohol permit dated December 5th, 2013. The letter was not mailed until Jan 7th, 2014. Riley did not receive the letter until Jan 14th. She appealed the denial following the courts procedure to the letter and is currently waiting for a court date so a new judge can hear the case. All issues were resolved from the first denial yet Riley was denied again.
The landlord petitioned the local judge to evict Ms. Riley from the French Quarter property while Riley also petitioned a local judge to annul the eviction on the grounds of misrepresentation.
A further example of the dispute climate concerning the alcohol license involved Troy Hebert and Robert Watters contacting the US Army and reported false accusations that Riley was attempting to obtain a liquor permit through intimidation as an Army Soldier while wearing her uniform.
New Orleans former Mayor Ray Nagin’s indictment and subsequent conviction on federal charges of corruption illustrate a reputed cronyism system that has been in place for over a century in the state.
Louisiana history is full of accounts of back door dealing and dirty politics and Nagin’s indictment illuminates the essence of Riley’s problems securing a liquor license for her restaurant.
New Orleans has long been a city known for its freewheeling ways and political corruption. Few are ever surprised by anything other than hearing unflattering things about city government.
Riley in her own words said she was deceived, ignored and disregarded in her good faith attempt to open a restaurant and club on Decatur Street with an alcohol license as a condition of taking over the French Quarter location.
Her struggles were made public by guest spots on the radio and through contacts with the local NAACP and the Urban League.
Her moment of clarity came like a raging storm and flooding waters reminiscent of Katrina.
The black business community did little to help her and organizations like the NAACP dismissed her problems as trivial.
During the February monthly New Orleans NAACP meeting on Wednesday, Feb 12th, 2014, Donatus King, President of the local NAACP chapter said that he would not assist Ms. Riley in meeting with the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner, Mr. Troy Hebert, because 1) NAACP New Orleans is a volunteer organization with limited resources; and 2) there are other more pressing issues that he will allocate his time to such as the Henry Glover case. The State NAACP District A Representative, Levon LeBan, sided with Mr. King but did forward her complaint to the Louisiana NAACP President, Dr. Ernest Johnson. At this writing Riley has not been contacted by Dr. Johnson.
Riley claims that city officials including the French Quarter Management District delayed and prevented the acquisition of permits to operate my business.
According to Riley one of the members confessed that he spoke against her request for an alcohol permit in exchange for money and favor.
Ms.Riley expressed frustration stating that New Orleans City Councilwoman and Council Legislative Director (Kierstin Palmer and Attorney Nicole Webre) provided false and misleading information which she alleges defamed my character resulting in costly delays of my obtaining an occupational license. She added that Nicole Webre confessed to writing defaming emails about her without checking the facts. One email contained unsubstantiated complaints from The House of Blues.
Tracy Riley added that the City of New Orleans Safety/Permits/Zoning Department and The Vieuex Carre Commission provided misleading information regarding permit restrictions against the 300 Decatur Street property prior to her lease/purchase agreement.
“I was amazed to discover that the Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner and Attorney (Troy Hebert and Jessica Stern) unlawfully entered my permit application into a special investigation/hearing which led to information used against granting my permit” She said.
Nagin was first elected in March 2002 and received significant crossover vote from just about every segment of the population. He was re-elected in 2006 even though the election was held with at least two-thirds of New Orleans citizens still displaced after Katrina struck. He was term limited by law and left office on May 3, 2010.
Shortly after taking office, Nagin launched an anti-corruption campaign within city government, including crackdowns on the New Orleans Taxicab Bureau and Utilities Department. Media scenes of corrupt officials being led out of City Hall in handcuffs were received with surprised enthusiasm by much of the public. Sadly, Nagin ended up in a similar situation.
An investigation into corruption among city vehicle inspection (locally known as "brake tag" inspection) certification workers suggested that corruption was systemic; Nagin fired the entire department's workforce.
It is well documented that during that period, Nagin was asked what should be done about his cousin, who was involved in the taxi cab bureau scandals, Nagin said "if he's guilty, arrest him." Nagin's cousin was later arrested.
On January 18th, 2013, Nagin was indicted on 21 corruption charges, including wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering, related to his alleged dealings with two troubled city vendors following Hurricane Katrina disaster. On February 20th, 2013, Nagin pleaded not guilty in federal court to all charges. He was convicted on 20 of 21 of these charges on February 12th, 2014.
Several Parties assisted Riley including Attorney Ernest Jones is helping with the appeal and breach of contract lawsuit.
She said “finding an attorney to represent me has been as difficult as obtaining my liquor license.”
Radio Personalities Coach Frank, and Oliver Thomas "Good Morning Show" have also been very helpful in informing the city of New Orleans about Ms. Riley’s plight.
Radio station WBOK licensed in New Orleans, Louisiana and serving the New Orleans area has consistently supported Riley. The station is owned by Bakewell Media of Louisiana, LLC.
“I am often invited on the shows to give updates on our situation. During the show I hear from many callers showing support for our cause. Most of the calls express anger as a result of the actions of some residents, businesses and government officials representatives but they are not surprised.”
“Judy Reese Morse, First Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer for the City of New Orleans was instrumental in assisting me with obtaining my local occupational license and my local alcohol permit after several weeks and after several costly delays.
The "noise" generated around my local permits followed me to the state level and added to my troubles with the state. On Jan 30th, 2013 just two days before the Mayoral election, Mrs. Reese said she would contact Commissioner Hebert and attempt to coordinate a meeting between the two of us."
"I have attempted to follow up with her several times and I have not heard back from her as of yet. "
Sadly, Tracy Riley’s plight and problems as a black New Orleans business person and a woman does not affect just her or her family, but every individual with a dream to do better for themselves and their community.
“We remain unable to operate and risk losing the building. I am a retired disabled veteran receiving no pay.
I am five months late on my mortgage and foreclosure is now a part of the discussion. “she said.