Recent headlines about highly-regarded athletes such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Oscar Pistorius illustrate just how pervasive domestic violence still is in America and around the world. Whether readers realize it or not, everyone knows someone who has been a victim – a neighbor, an auntee, a best friend or even the writer of this column.
I’ve written a lot of columns since I started to write for Uptown Messenger in January of 2011. Sometimes I look back over them and realize: “You know, there have been some interesting developments with this since I put pen to paper.”
Accordingly, every now and again, I revisit a few old columns to provide brief updates on some of the topics I’ve written about. Some have happy endings, some less so.
So, without further ado, I give you The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
With the court challenge period mostly over and marginal candidates having dropped out, the hard-ball campaigns for various judgeships, the DA, and State Representative have begun in earnest. Though several organizations like the AFL-CIO, RDO and LIFE, the group founded by former mayor Dutch Morial, completed their endorsements early, we attended three public forums in the last week – the Orleans Parish Republican and Democratic Executive Committees and the Independent Women’s Organization — to get a first-hand look at all the remaining candidates.
Last night’s contest at OPDEC (the Democrats) was a real slug fest with numerous candidates hurling allegations of impropriety at each other which made that crusty audience gasp. One of the moderators, Jason Coleman, found himself inviting candidates up for the next round, as if it were a boxing match.
African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters.
I’m just going to come right out and say what everything is thinking: What the @#$% is going on with home prices in Orleans Parish?
It’s getting crazy out there. I’ve been seeing listings of renovated homes for over $300 per square foot on the edge of Central City. A “fixer-upper” needing a “total renovation” on the edge of City Park recently hit the market for $700,000.
What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share? Mental illness. Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults - aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group.
Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose.
Nobody will ever accuse Mayor Mitch Landrieu of being creative. Time and time again he has traveled down the same well-worn path of shifting blame to justify pursuing unpopular fiscal policies.
Most recently, Landrieu did the ol’ bait and switch by proposing cigarette and hotel tax increases that he knew he lacked the clout to get through the legislature. Next, he turned around and pushed through authorization to double of the police and fire property tax millages, subject to approval of that proposal on the city and state ballots in the fall.
As readers are well aware, the Tea Party is a growing anti-big government movement that seeks to change American politics by often promising to get government out of the lives of citizens – as if that is even remotely possible. Most people of our generation began their voting lives as Democrats. We understand that when people get a little older, more successful and sometimes more conservative, they might transition from being moderate Democrats to Republicans.
That’s fine. But right-leaning Tea Party Republicans are as out-of-step with middle America as the left-leaning fringes of the Democratic party. And they certainly won’t help the Republican party attract the ever-growing number of Hispanic, Asian and African-American voters they must have to win another presidential election. As the voting majority nationally because more non-white each year, both parties are scrambling to embrace those voters.
Put a fork in it. The Louisiana Landmarks Society is done. They’ve bought the farm, cashed in their chips, and kicked the proverbial bucket.
I could go on listing aphorisms signifying death or obsolescence, but the gist is that the Louisiana Landmarks Society has become a joke. They have abandoned their mission of helping preserve landmarks in favor of the far less laudable enterprise of hawking restrictive zoning for the benefit of local NIMBYs.
I have reached this conclusion following the society’s release of its annual “New Orleans Nine Most Endangered List,” which lists “at-risk historic properties.” The Louisiana Landmarks Society as a whole was founded in 1950 in order to promote historic preservation, and the list was envisioned as a means to highlight certain properties at risk of being lost.
After this year’s list, it’s clear that is no longer the society’s agenda.
As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation. Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is.
You’ve seen them at many intersections and overpasses across the city.
They weave in and out of traffic at red lights, often dressed in team jerseys or uniforms, their sweet faces so hard to say no to.
They work in teams usually. There are the sign carriers. Sometimes the signs are pithy and drum up sympathy. Other times, the words on the poster boards are a scrawl so faint you can hardly decipher the exact message. One thing is unmistakable, though. They want money.
I’ve mentioned before in this column that I grew up loving the late-1960’s run of the popular police procedural Dragnet. Jack Webb, depicting LAPD Sergeant Joe Friday, narrated the series as the most honest and dedicated police officer ever envisioned.
In most episodes, Sgt. Friday would be working in a case in a random division – homicide, robbery, bunco/frauds, etc. – and the viewer would watch as he gradually solved the case. In other episodes, however, the series dealt with less sexy matters such as police administration and internal affairs investigations. All the while, Sgt. Friday was as impassive as he was unimpeachable.
What you may not know is that Dragnet, which started as a radio program in 1949, was so popular that it spawned an series set in New Orleans.
While the Mayor is touting his successes at the Legislature, Landrieu’s only major success is getting a fall ballot initiative to increase property taxes in New Orleans. Unfortunately for Senator Mary Landrieu, it might be on the ballot at the same time as her election and could be troubling if voters strongly oppose the tax.
Just because New Orleans voters turned down the Audubon Institute’s millage doesn’t automatically mean they will oppose Mitch’s property tax increase. Everyone knows the cost of living in New Orleans has increased dramatically since Katrina. We’re just not sure voters are ready to add on another tax which would hurt property owners and renters, whose landlords would undoubtedly increase rents.
Every now and again I drive past the intersection of Martin Luther King and Oretha Castle Haley in Central City. There, in the neutral ground, stands a statue that can only be described as a Lovecraftian horror. The ten-foot tall egg-shaped grotesque features several sets of hands with misshapen, distended fingers reaching out in bizarre fashion.
It’s a wonderfully disturbing statue, something straight out of movie “Beetlejuice.” Alas, there is no plaque on the statue, or other indication of what this nightmarish form was intended for. It simply appears to be a bit of random art with no specific purpose.
Snuggles is a New Orleans dog, born and bred — a 2-year-old mixed breed with probably more terrier in him than anything else. About a year ago, Snuggles was a lonely street dog, mostly eating out of garbage cans.
One day, a stranger swept him up and brought him to the Louisiana SPCA. After getting some really good food, shots, spayed and regularly bathed, Snuggles was ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, no matter how cute Snuggles was, he always seemed to come in second. Fortunately for Snuggles, fate smiled on him. SPCA Executive Director Ana Zorrila was getting calls from shelters in the Northeast and Midwest looking for puppies to be adopted.
Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America.
The City of New Orleans has targeted a nefarious, rogue activity that has been transpiring beneath our very noses down in the French Quarter. These fiends brazenly peddle their poisonous wares out in the open, boldly daring the authorities to stop them. Their actions infest our streets, fly in the face of common decency, and corrupt our youth.
Drug dealers? Pimps?
Worse. I’m talking about T-shirt shops.
The Krewe of Banana is returning to the Port of New Orleans and we couldn’t be happier. The Port of New Orleans has undergone a great resurgence in recent years – at least they are one agency that Governor Bobby Jindal cuts less frequently than most others.
With the unleashing of their imaginations and mentorship from the National Organization of Minority Architects, four teams from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Sci Academy and Urban League College Track spent the last year analyzing the needs of various neighborhoods around the city and then developing architectural plans designed to meet those needs.
Security, transportation, employment, shelter and food were among areas the youth considered during the urban planning process. They sought to define space and place and answer questions like: Does a church fall under the category of public space, entertainment or education?
And what the budding architects, ranging in ages 11 to 18, envisioned is nothing short of thoughtful, innovative and really, really sweet.