BRADENTON, Fla. - A federal judge in Louisiana rescheduled a housing discrimination lawsuit hearing involving the State Bond Commission at the request of State Treasurer John Kennedy.
The hearing was originally set for April 23 by Judge Martin Feldman with a requirement that Kennedy attend. Kennedy, who is chairman of the commission, later asked that the hearing be postponed due to a scheduling conflict.
Feldman reset the hearing for June 26, and ordered Kennedy to "personally attend the status conference and appear as a member of the Bond Commission with full authority to speak for the commission." Feldman also said no additional delays would be granted.
The hearing involves requests by prosecutors with the Department of Justice to reopen a lawsuit filed in 2012 after the Bond Commission rejected a negotiated settlement on March 20.
The suit alleged that the Fair Housing and the Americans with Disabilities acts were violated because of a years'-long delay in the commission's approval of $3.4 million of multifamily housing revenue bonds as partial financing for a $6.6 million development in New Orleans designated for low-income and homeless persons with disabilities.
The Bond Commission rejected the settlement after studying the details. It would have waived a $3 million penalty, and required commission members and state officials to review federal housing laws. It also required the commission to notify the DOJ if a moratorium on affordable housing projects is contemplated, and to follow the law.
Kennedy said the commission did not do anything wrong and the suit should go to trial.
New Orleans was also named in the suit for inordinate delays in zoning approvals for the project, and the city entered a separate settlement with the DOJ. Feldman accepted the settlement on April 21, and dismissed the suit against the city without assessing any costs.
In addition to reviewing federal housing laws and improving zoning procedures, the city agreed to fund 350 affordable housing units.