If you are coming to Crescent City for a visit, you better open your mouth first.
Starting next month, any visitors arriving at Louis Armstrong International Airport, staying at a local hotel, or attending a convention in town will be required to submit a DNA sample before spending any time in the Big Easy.
The City Council passed the measure at their last meeting as a way help identify murder victims or those beaten so badly they are unresponsive. As a part of his final State of the City address and having already redefined the definition of “crime,” Mayor Landrieu’s has submitted this new measure as the next step in his bold crime-fighting initiative.
“With your typical robbery, shooting, or murder, the perps often take the wallet – and any way to ID you if you are unconscious or, you know, dead,” Councilmember Wayne Cashmonet said.
“Imagine you are a tourist from Boston, something happens, you show up at the Coroner and nobody knows who you are. Or, your body gets dumped off Almonaster. It happens. It’s reality. This a common-sense precaution if you spend any time in New Orleans.”
The $29.95 cost of the DNA kits, or ‘Mitch Kits,’ will be added to a visitor’s airline ticket cost, hotel bill, or convention registration.
Local tourism advocate Harold Conrad thinks this sends the wrong message.
“Who the hell is going to come here if there is that much chance of them going home in a coma or a body bag? Maybe the Mayor and the City Council should do something to prevent THAT from happening. This is an admission of failure. It will kill the tourism industry!”
Steve Mayer, the spokesman for Mayor Landrieu, replied that Conrad was missing the point.
“This is a step in the right direction. Yes, New Orleans is the most violent city in America. But there are a lot of people who like to travel to places on the edge – live dangerously – and we’re number one. We fulfill the need to feel alive through the rush of possibly dying. Now, when they come here, they can be certain their remains will be returned to their loved ones if the highly probable unthinkable happens.”