May 012014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Monday, May 5, begins the new four-year terms for Mayor Landrieu and the City Council. Thus we thought it appropriate to bid farewell to old friends and welcome to new ones.

Jackie Clarkson has served the public for more than 20 years as a Councilmember and a State Legislator. If Jackie was invited to an event, she would always be there. Jackie worked tirelessly for the causes she truly believed in – building a strong Algiers; keeping the French Quarter safe for residents and tourists; the Saints; the military; UNO and the World War II Museum. She loved the arts and culture of New Orleans and will continue to push for a new streetcar on the Westbank. Jackie’s husband Buzz must be a saint to put up with Jackie being away from home so much of the time.

Kristin Gisleson-Palmer spent just four years inside government but was known for her work in creating culturally diverse neighborhoods across the City. She is a champion of smart growth, blight reduction and economic development and came to the Council from the PRC where she ran the very successful Operation Comeback program. Kristin authored and pushed through the taxi cabs reforms which have brought us all those new cabs we all ride in today.

Cynthia Hedge Morrell came to the Council nine years ago from the education field where she served as a teacher, principal and OPSB administrator. Taking office just prior to Hurricane Katrina, Cynthia concentrated heavily on rebuilding the city and her district. She also chaired the Utility Committee where she worked to keep ratepayer costs down, the Budget Committee, the Education Committee and the Airport Committee which has begun a new expansion. Cynthia has always loved horses, served as the first woman on the state racing commission, and could become a trainer once again.

Nadine Ramsey, a former judge, capitalized on the changing demographics in Council District C. Look for her to bring her unique perspective to tourism, economic development and diversity issues. Jason Williams, a former trial lawyer, will bring a sense of fairness and duty to the Council. Jared Brossett already has more than 8 years of experience with the Council at the staff level and a term at the State Legislature. Jared knows the inner operations of government and is a favorite young professionals across all council districts.

Mayor Landrieu, with his strong victory, has a full agenda that will include his new race relations project, the World Trade Center redevelopment and preparing for the City’s 300th anniversary. With continued tourism, port and economic growth, and new jobs, voters should expect a strong four years.

Readers of this column know that Allan Katz loves cats. Three cats live inside his house. And, four cats live in his backyard where he has had constructed an eight-foot fence within the fence that the manufacturer says will keep cats inside the enclosure while keeping raccoons and possums out.

However, this week a small black and white pregnant cat demonstrated that the manufacturers have failed to reckon with the determination of a feline mom in labor determined to find an appropriate safe place to deliver her litter.

The little cat apparently jumped almost to the top of the eight-foot fence and then clawed her way to the top, dropping into Allan’s back yard. She had visited the back yard before, dropping in to sample the cuisine. She must have noticed Allan’s Cat House and made a mental note that it would be a fine place to deliver her next litter.

The Cat House is actually a dog house intended to host cats. It was Danae’s house warming present to Allan when he returned to his Hurricane Katrina-flooded home in 2007. She had the builder paint over the entrance, “Allan’s Cat House.” In the winter, on cold nights, the outside cats love to burrow into blankets in the Cat House and enjoy a warm sleep.

The first Allan knew that the Cat House had become a maternity ward was Wednesday when he arrived at the enclosure, cat food in hand, to find a tiny new born kitten crawling on the patio tiles, squalling as a loudly as it could. Its eyes were still closed and it was so tiny that it looked like a minnow with little black and white legs. It had gotten out of the Cat House and couldn’t find its way back.

Allan and his handy-man, Tim, on further inspection located the mom and the other litter-mate snuggled in the Cat House. Tim put the lost little kitten next to the mom and it immediately began nursing and was soon asleep in its mother’s front paws.

If all goes well, at the appropriate time, Allan will ask the Louisiana SPCA’s Cat Lady, the estimable Heather Rigney, to scoop up the three cats to have them spayed and given their shots. Danae thinks Allan should ask his friends at the SPCA and Spaymart to put the three up for adoption, hoping they’ll find forever homes. If any of the three aren’t adopted, Allan says they’re welcome to come back to his yard to live out their lives. Of course, as has been demonstrated, if the momma cat can get in over an eight-foot fence, she can probably also get out if that is what she wants to do.

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.

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