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Louisburg Square tenants threatened with eviction again! Letter to Atty General
by housing advocate Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005 at 11:06 PM

This is a letter to the Attorney General and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff prepared by a visiting volunteer attorney on behalf of the tenants of Louisburg Square who, after winning in court Nov. 2, have been served notices to vacate on November 30th. Please take and edit it at will and fax it to the Attorney General yourself to put the pressure on.

November 24, 2005

From: Russell B. Christensen, Esq
Retired Human Rights Lawyer and former US Immigration and Naturalization Political Asylum Hearing Officer (Newark Office)

To: Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti
Fax 225.342.7335
US Attorney James Letten
New Orleans Office, Federal Bureau Of Investigation, fax504.816.3306
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee
Re: Collusive actions of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department, the owners of the Louisburg Square Apartments -the LES RealtyTrust through the actions of their agents Lisa Bourgois and her administrative assistant Sheila Davenport and the personnel from BMCI Contracting Company. (The manager of the contracting company is Joe Powers).

Dear Officers:
This letter is to follow up on the past notice given to you by attorney William Quiqley of the Loyola University Legal Clinic dated October 27, 2005. Since that time a hearing has been had in the matter of the actions of the owner in trying to remove the tenants without observing legal process.

The situation is as follows:
1)Governor Blanco issued an emergency order that there would be a freeze on all evictions up to the date of Oct. 25, 2005.
2)The Louisburg Square Apartment Complex has an estimated 180 units of apartments.This complex is owned by a Massachusetts realty firm with local management.
3)Of the existing apartments it is estimated that some 30 of them suffered sufficent roof damage so that their apartments were not habitable. The rest could be inhabited if their tenants were available to be moved back in. Since these tenants were ordered by government officials to vacate their apartments, there is some obligation on the part of the government officals to locate them and tell them the condition of their apartment.
4)The tenants allege that instead of assisting them in moving back into their apartments, this management team has made every effort to force them to leave. This in the face of a dire need within the city for adequate housing for its citizens.
5)The tenants allege that there is a close personal relationship between one member of this management team and an officer in the Sheriff's Department with the first name of Marvin.
6)The tenants have sought legal assistance as is their right. Volunteers from The Common Ground Relief Organization responded to their call for assistance.
7)Harassment of these volunteers who have arrived to assist these tenants in their rights have been intimidated by the Sheriffs Department on several occasions. Camcorder recordings of these intimidating confrontations have been caught on video equipment. These officers must know that they are acting illegally because the sworn statements that have been taken by the volunteers have indicated that all of the officers either cover up their name shields or they command the volunteer to look away and not look into their faces. At one such confrontation the license number of the Sheriffs vehicle was recorded.
8)The sworn statements that are being gathered indicate that these officers have come at night to the tenants housing units, knocked on the door and told the tenants that they would have to leave. The employees of the Contracting company have also been involved in the intimidation process. They have told the tenants that would have their possessions forcefully removed before their has been a court hearing on this process.
9) In fact it is alleged by the tenants that this contracting company did forcefully remove the possessions of two of the tenants apartments. One of the tenants is known by name and is still available as a witness. Volunteers from Common Ground were on hand with a video camera and have images of the employee of this contracting company throwing the possessions out of the 2nd story window. The other tenant was found in tears by the volunteers who arrived to try and assist these tenants. It is unknown how many other tenants have had their possessions disposed of in this manner.
10)The tenants allege that the management team of Sheila and Lisa, along with the contracting company's personnel keep telling the tenants that it is too dangerous for the tenants to live in the complex. Yet the tenants observe that the management team has moved the workers of the contractor into these same apartments that they claim are too dangerous for tenants to live in.
11)When tenants are asked why they think the landlord wants to treat his tenants in this manner they respond as follows. The landlord wants to make a claim (false in this instance as so many units are without damage) to FEMA for storm damage assistance to upgrade these units. Then they will be able to increase the rent. The tenants allege this is common knowledge.
12)The tenants allege in their sworn statements that the contracting employees have removed the license plates on vehicles of tenants that were ordered to leave New Orleans at the time of the storm but were unable to take their vehicles. Then the contractors employees have had the vehicles towed away without making any efforts to locate the owners. (These vehicles should therefore be under the protection of the landlord until such time as they can be reached by the authorities who ordered them to move. The landlord should under law make an effort to both find the owner and to continue to protect his valuable possession for a reasonable time.)
13)The tenants also allege in their sworn statements that the contracting company personnel in removing the possession from apartments that have seen no water damage have been engaged in theft of these possessions. All of this information needs to be checked immediately by FBI staff people. These alleged facts indicate a major fraud upon the public, a protection of landlord property wishes over tenants rights, outright theft by the contracting companies personnel, and police officers being used in this very scheme to defraud the public of their protection-and giving aid to an out of state corporation rather than their own community members.
I would also appreciate being informed about the action you plan on taking.

Russell Bartlett Christensen Esq.
At the Common Ground Disaster Relief Communication Center at 1417 Franklin Street, New Orleans, La.
cc:William Quiqley Esquire

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