May 122016
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Will Mayor Landrieu’s vocal support of a federal takeover at the Orleans Parish Prison be the final encouragement Judge Lance Africk needs to pull the trigger on receivership? Gusman filed his response to the Justice Department’s complaint yesterday which basically said he had not been given enough time or resources to significantly address the many issues at hand.

Under receivership, the federal government will appoint a seasoned correctional official to administer violence and mismanagement issues. Gusman would continue to serve as Sheriff but his hands would basically be tied.

Though City Attorney Rebecca Dietz is quoted as saying the city is willing to fund a constitutional jail, it may take a new face to broker the deal. Without additional funding, our prison system will never meet minimum constitutional standards.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu must take some responsibility for the current problem. If Mayor Landrieu really believed three years ago that a federal takeover was necessary, he should have recruited a more acceptable candidate for sheriff before the last election.

Actually, Gusman could come to appreciate the receiver, who would deflect much of the current heat while bringing in new ideas and a new operating style. He or she will be a fresh new voice armed with the power of Washington. It could be a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the inmates.

Judge Africk will begin evidentiary hearings next week but is not expected to make a decision immediately. Meanwhile, a new group calling itself the Public Integrity News Bureau has begun spinning on Gusman’s behalf. It’s always smart to try and sway public opinion, but it doesn’t always work.


The power brokers behind public education’s future in New Orleans will begin to show their hands today with the announcement of the new Unification Advisory Committee tasked with putting together the framework for the return of schools. Look for both the OPSB and the RSD to put a public face to what surely will be a closed door process. By hand-selecting the committee members, the concerns of parents and other stakeholders could be not given full consideration.


Yesterday’s announcement by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board that Lusher’s teachers have the legal right to vote next week on unionization opens the door for the International High School and 52 returning RSD charters to hold similar elections.

It’s highly likely that many teachers across the system – especially “career” teachers who have a long-term commitment to the profession – will want the job security and other benefits union membership can provide. Teachers in school systems with strong unions also have a greater ability to impact curriculum.


An African-American student is three times more likely to be placed in a gifted program if his or her teacher is also African-American, according to a new study published in the current issue of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Generally, African-American public school students are 54% less likely than their white peers to be identified as eligible for gifted-education services.

It has long been acknowledged that African-American students perform better in schools with a greater number of African-American teachers who can serve as role models. African-American teachers are more likely to give these students “higher subjective assessments of their abilities,” reported one of the study’s authors.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. She currently works for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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