Apr 032014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We have been watching with much interest the national and Louisiana debate regarding increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The latest polls show that support is growing across the nation, although only seven states and the District of Columbia have raised starting pay.

According to today’s New York Times, Louisiana is one of five states – the others being Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that currently does not have a minimum wage. Washington State has the highest wage ($9.32) currently with D.C. to move to $11.50 in 2016. While both those rates might be too high for Louisiana’s economy, something must be done to give our lowest paid citizens a better opportunity to succeed in life.

Certainly it is often problematic when the basic cost of doing business increases. Some employers will end up laying off workers or engaging in other cost-saving measures.

The need for a higher minimum wage cannot be overstated. Every citizen who is willing and able to work deserves to earn enough money to live in housing that is not blighted, eat nutritious meals, and educate their children. Helping low-paid workers earn a decent living will provide many long term benefits for New Orleans including building a middle class whose members are more likely to pay taxes and less likely to commit crimes.

For the first time, quite a few states have now gone above the $7.25 per hour federal level. While this action might be unlikely in Louisiana in 2014, it will be a major campaign issue in Louisiana’s governor’s race, unless President Obama is somehow able to do the deal in Washington.


The current indictment of Civil District Court Judge Yolanda King regarding whether she was domiciled in Orleans Parish when she ran for office is just the latest reason why Louisiana’s antiquated laws regarding residency and domicile should be updated. Simply stated, you can have multiple residences but only one domicile. Some candidates now go to great lengths to establish domicile in a particular neighborhood, district, or city where they do not sleep every night. But Louisiana law currently allows it. It’s one thing if your home burned down last month, or if a natural disaster recently impacted you.

Changing this law won’t be easy either, since it’s only the politicians who violate it. Judges are held to a higher standard in this matter. We are not lawyers or judges, therefore we have no idea if Judge King violated the law. But if found to have lied on her application to become a judge, surely the state licensing board will take action.


Newly elected Councilman At large Jason Williams is making all the preparations necessary to take office on Monday, May 5. He’s hired a competent Chief of Staff, toured his new offices, and reviewed potential committee assignments. He’s also planning a fundraiser, Monday, April 14, which will be hosted by restaurateur Desi Vega at his award winning steakhouse in the Lafayette Hotel. Expect to see many of the city’s movers and shakers in attendance starting with Jason’s father-in-law former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy who knows a little something about what it takes to raise money and carve out a successful career as an elected official.


One of the most fun Jazz Fest related events is always U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s Big Easy Brunch which will be held this year at the uptown mansion of Lisa and Rick Farrell on Sunday, April 27. The Jazz Fest is always popular with the Washington crowd so you never know who you might meet at the brunch.

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. 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 former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

  • Profjim

    Re: minimum wage hike: If you want to ensure no underprivileged teenagers ever get a job, or can start a business, or if you want poor people paying even higher grocery prices, raise the minimum wage. The reason other places can raise it is because their wages are higher already, so very few jobs are affected there. But $7 in LA does not buy the same as $7 in NY. If raising the minimum wage really grew the middle class, then it would have happened already.

  • Diogonese

    You socialists are so funny. Just wish you understood more (a lot more) about economics.

  • Profjim

    First, I’m tired of my comments being deleted on this website. If you can’t defend your position in public, get out of the journalism business. And especially don’t delete comments made by people who DONATED to your website when you first started off and were asking for money.

    Second, my original post stated that minimum wage laws hurt the very people they are designed to help. Teenagers and people with low job skills depend on these entry level jobs to gain experience. With higher minimum wages, these jobs are given to people with more skills, who tend not to be lowest income, who really need the jobs. Furthermore, the poor are hurt most by the rise in prices in everyday commodities like food with higher wage laws.

    The reason NY and DC can have these laws is that their wages are higher to begin with – barely anyone is being affected, but it makes them think they are doing a good deed. The only thing it’s doing there is unemploying people who would be borderline employable.

  • Jim McArthur

    Raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment. If we want to build the middle class in Louisiana, we need to attract industries that pay decent wages and offer decent benefits.