Sep 212017
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

At last night forum sponsored by The New Orleans Advocate and lake area neighborhood organizations, the six major candidates for Mayor were quick to discuss grandiose plans to fight crime, increase economic development, and repair infrastructure.

Unless New Orleans has a trained and motivated workforce, we will continue to be a city that relies heavily on tourism and its low paying jobs while hoping that tourists don’t get mugged. Creating such an environment will require a significant municipal investment in early childhood education and recreation programs to give kids the boost they need to succeed.

The New Orleans Campaign For Grade-Level Reading – a consortium of non-profit organizations and foundations including Agenda for Children, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Center for Development and Learning- is part of a national campaign to encourage municipal investments in children. That investment could include subsidized or low cost car seats for at-risk children, more affordable high-quality child care programs and education, increased municipally-funded summer recreation programs not just for youth but teens as well.

Children whose parents cannot afford a car seat are more apt to automobile injuries. Children who do not attend quality day care and early childhood programs are not as prepared for kindergarten. Though young children learn at different paces, those children who are still unable to read at grade level by the third grade often never catch up. They often become the teenagers who do not complete high school, lack workplace skills and are more likely to commit crimes.

The Grade Level Reading Mayoral Forum will take place September 27 at 5 p.m. Watch the live stream at


While New Orleanians became aware that something was wrong with the city’s water yesterday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was building his national profile with a folksy interview on CBS This Morning regarding the take-down of four confederate monuments.

Before a large national audience, Landrieu got the opportunity to expound on the role the historic statues played in history and why he believed that the statue of Andrew Jackson should remain the focal point of Jackson Square. The Take ‘Em Down Nola group has already named Jackson as their next target and still intend to pursue other removals.

Every good CEO has an exit strategy. Did an extremely savvy FOM (Friend of Mitch) advise to get in front of the statue issue to become a more-sought-after national figure? Whether Landrieu temporarily lands at the Aspen Institute or some other think tank until Democrats return to power in Washington, his eyes are already set on another prize.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

  • D, Turgeon

    Really? The city government’s focus should be on “early childhood education and recreation programs”? While nobody disputes the immense value of those services, I fail to see how they will prevent New Orleans from being “a city that relies heavily on tourism and its low paying jobs while hoping that tourists don’t get mugged”. The best system of childhood education in the world will not produce an economy that affords economic opportunity for its graduates. We have seen fifty years of rampant de-industrialization, robber baron financialization, and the deliberate, economic marginalization of a large and growing segment of our population, especially minorities, and this is your solution for economic renewal? Car seats, e.c.e. and recreation programs? God help us.

  • KurtB

    I’m starting to think Miss Columbus is drinking some type of laced Landrieu Kool-Aid. “LANDRIEU BECOMING NATIONAL CONTENDER.” Maybe it’s because our water isn’t drinkable lately??

  • rebecca

    The Mayors job doesnt and shouldnt have the raising of children under its umbrella…. if the streets are fixed and the blight is done away with and the ordinances we have on the books are enforced with teeth…the city will follow suit. Litter is a big problem that goes back to a choice a person makes…to walk a step or two to a trash bin or drop it on the ground for someone else to pick up. Schools are now charged with raising children and that has become the problem….the application of one rule for some and other rules for others causes confliction in a childs home. We all have to become good citizens and teach our children the same lessons. When a child come from a dysfuntional home environment and is told and taught that some things are not their responsibility for what ever reasons…and get to school and meets up with other children that are taught those rules….like the Golden Rule….it causes conflicts …who should they believe…a parent that tells them its ok to sass and not obey the teachers or the teachers and pricnicpals? No the Mayor should not be in the business of raising children and a forum that asks them to is not what is going to help New Orleans….Hold the parents accountable and if that doesnt get through maybe a boys or girls school run by some magical person in the form of a 21 century Father Flanagan should be formed with the millions being spend for the past decades that hasnt touched hardly any at risk children… We continue to teach them basketball and how to play a musical instrument like it will save a life… we need to think bigger !