Feb 272014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s always fun to go to the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall because you never know who you are going to run into. Last night’s ball was a jam-packed but chilly affair with plenty of women in stunning backless, strapless creations and masks. The first people Danae saw crawling out of a big SUV were James Carville (New Orleans best known media darling) and Ryan Berni, the Mayor’s former press secretary/campaign manager who is now contemplating his next step. Could Hillary’s campaign be on Berni’s horizon?

Then we had DA Leon Cannizzaro with his press person Chris Bowman. Wife Norma was with the grandkids. Phyllis Landrieu, always the Energizer bunny, was talking about her 17 grandkids too and the children’s books she wants to start writing. Phyllis has just self-printed her first book about a lifetime of political experiences and the interesting people she has had the privilege to know over the decades, like Hale and Lindy Boggs.

Naturally Mayor Landrieu was moving in the crowd, posing for “selfies” with friends and admirers. His real estate broker-brother Mark, Danae’s favorite Landrieu, was taking it all in along with Mitch’s brother-in-law Chris Johnsen, Jones-Walker’s go-to man in Washington, and his wife Karen who is Cheryl Landrieu’s sister. Chris and Karen have been in town plenty recently with their deb daughter but still couldn’t wait to visit the King Cake room last night. Danae and Chris made a small wager on the governor’s race. We’ll see who was right next year.

Yes, they were more politicians there – some even campaigning – Jackie Clarkson in her grandmother’s beautiful antique jewelry with a rare appearance by husband Buzz; Arthur Morrell and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell who is punching it out with Jason Williams for the at-large seat but last night was an honorary Nyx lieutenant and parade moderator; easily-relected Councilmembers James Gray and Stacy Head with Anne Redd; and Traffic Court Judge Bobby Jones.

State Rep Jared Brossett, the newly elected Councilmember for District D, was making the rounds along with State Rep. Wesley Bishop, a proud new father. Jared will have to resign midway through this year’s legislative session to be sworn in on the City Council. We can’t forget Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni who never misses a good party.

Members of the business community who also turned out included fast-food entrepreneurs and philanthropists Karen and Henry Coaxum; Bonnie Broel from the House of Broel; accountant Harold and Carol Asher; Landrieu super-consultant Norma Jane Sabiston who is getting ready for Mary Landrieu’s campaign, and her sister Dottie Belletto who handles all of Mitch’s special events including Mardi Gras at Gallier; PR princess Betsie Gambel and her brother architect Tommy Meric of Duplantier and Meric. Tommy’s father and his partner the late Ben Cimini designed Gallier Hall’s last renovation 45 years ago when Vic Schiro was Mayor.

Other attendees included HRI execs Tom Leonhard and Eddie Boettner; Pastor Tom Watson; Mark and Connie Uddo of KaTREEna fame and her “second” husband and co-conspirator, Lakeview neighborhood leader Al Petrie who always hosts well-attended receptions for his chosen candidates like Jeffrey Rouse; honorary Dutch Counsel Connie Willems with Casey; Crimestoppers exec Darlene Custanza promoting her upcoming luncheon; entrepreneurial brothers Ronnie and Winston Burns; Roy Glapion; Mardi Gras author and media personality Arthur Hardy; Tulane law prof Tania Tetlow; Crescent City Democrats leader Joe Sobol; IWO President Nakisha Irvin Knott who just made partner at Gainsburgh Benjamin; and Cleveland Spears with Harrah’s exec Kelisha Garrett.

Former New Orleanian Kim Gandy and her daughter Cady also attended and wondered why nobody was dancing — other than for beads that is — to the great music of Steve Masakowski’s band. Lots of wonderful food and plenty of throws for the grabbing. Another fabulous Carnival season is well underway.

For us, one of the best parts of attending events at Gallier is the short to walk back to our offices. Along the path Danae encountered neighbor Judge Darryl Derbigny who chose the gym rather than the ball but was still on his way to catch a few beads. Derbigny and other judges are getting ready for their big election season coming right up in the fall.

Danae and Allan will be spending their annual pre-Carnival Friday morning at Children’s Hospital with actor and musician Hugh Laurie who is serving as Bacchus this year. Then off for more Carnival fun with family and friends at the Bourbon House. Throw us something, mister!

President Barak Obama just named Urban League President and former mayor Marc Morial to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Adults. We’re sure Marc has the message and charisma to be a great role model for millions of young Americans.

Tommy Screen, who runs Loyola University’s highly successful Institute of Politics, has put together a great night of Louisiana politics on March 28 with three former governors – Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer and Kathleen Blanco. WVUE’s Lee Zurik will moderate this free-for-all at Loyola’s Roussel Hall. IOP founder Ed Renwick created an important legacy that will live on for generations. Free and open to the public, come early for the best seat. Call Tommy at 864-7082 to join the next IOP class.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board, and Columbus is working on the campaigns of Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Charles Foti. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.

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