UptownMessenger.com

Jun 292015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Few people today recognize just how devastating the Civil War was, especially for the South.  The war resulted in over 750,000 deaths.  The South lost roughly a quarter of its male population of military age — 4 percent of its total population.  It constitutes the largest mortality event in American history.

Set against this backdrop, it comes as little surprise that memorials were built throughout the population centers of the South to commemorate the military and political leaders of the Confederacy and the soldiers who served under them.  Though the war was lost, the memories remained.

Yet, according to Mayor Landrieu, the days of Civil War Memorials in New Orleans are numbered.  In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Charleston, perpetrated by known Neo-Confederate and white supremacist Dylan Roof, virtually anything associated with the Confederacy is seen as a target. Continue reading »

Jun 252015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Conservative religious-freedom advocates still exist in America, and Gov. Bobby Jindal must connect with every single one of them if he is going to break out from the bottom of the pack to become a real player in the Republican presidential nomination race.

The ballroom at the Pontchartrain Center was packed to the gills yesterday with mostly white, flag-waving believers as Jindal made his highly structured announcement for President of the United States. The event started out with recorded messages from Archie Manning and former Gov. Mike Foster, Jindal’s mentor and former employer. His logo is a sparkling red and blue “J” that almost looks like a Christmas decoration. Continue reading »

Jun 182015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Obviously hungry for new leaders at the state level, New Orleans voters had three opportunities yesterday to hear from various candidates for state-wide office, now that campaign season is ramping up after the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, and PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle were generally congenial and complimentary of each other as they addressed a group of 1,000 predominately Westbank voters at the Alario Center very early yesterday morning. Continue reading »

Jun 152015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

One of the chief headaches one gets from monitoring the news cycle relates to the fact that it isn’t self-correcting.  A tiny seed of disinformation grows to become a sturdy tree of conventional wisdom.

This is what happened with the so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws following the shooting of Treyvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman.  Most recently, it was criticized in a recent column by Jarvis DeBerry after being invoked by Algiers Pastor W.L.T. Littleton, who is accused of shooting a fleeing copper thief in the back of the head. Continue reading »

Jun 082015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

There’s no getting around it: Central City is an impoverished neighborhood.

In 2013, Karen Gadbois and Craig Mulcahy summed up the situation in Central City nicely: “[Y]ou’re still within sight of the Superdome, but have no doubt about it: The tracks may be nonexistent, but you’re on the wrong side of them.”

With Central City’s depressed economic state, one would think that public officials and the nonprofit community would focus on promoting businesses that provide goods and services that serve a lower-income demographic. However, the opposite has been the case. Continue reading »

Jun 042015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Generally speaking, we like Police Chief Michael Harrison and the NOPD. We think Chief Harrison is at least trying to do a good job within the budget and directives set by Mayor Landrieu. But there are serious neglect-of-duty and abuse-of-power issues hovering over the NOPD including yesterday’s City Council dialogue on the mishandling of sex-crime and child-abuse cases.

It is unfortunate that Chief Harrison did not address this problem before being forced to do so by a scathing report from IG Ed Quatrevaux. Even though Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook complied some frightening statistics that found wide-ranging administrative policy violations, no officer has been disciplined in the seven months since Quatrevaux’s initial report because of the prevailing good-old-boys network inside the NOPD where they protect their own. Continue reading »

Jun 012015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Plea bargaining is one of the hallmarks of an efficient criminal justice system. The prosecutor saves time and effort. The city collects a fine and court costs. The defendant receives a break on the offense charged. In theory, everybody is happy.

Alas, Mayor Landrieu is apparently not happy. His administration has decided to end the process in traffic court. Continue reading »

May 282015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Landrieu that the MacArthur Foundation was providing $150,000 for a study regarding our high incarceration rates was good news indeed. New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate per capital of any jurisdiction in the country — quadruple the national average. Since 2010 we have jailed more than 10 out of every 1,000 residents. Why does New Orleans and Louisiana incarcerate so many people — especially African-American males, who make up 90% of the prison population? Continue reading »

May 182015
 

Owen Courreges

In the film Cool Hand Luke, a prison guard slaps the protagonist, played by Paul Neuman, into solitary.

“Sorry, Luke,” the guard explains. “I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.”

Luke responds laconically: “Nah – calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

The phrase “just doing my job” has always been used to cover a multitude of sins. Indeed, when a man feebly attempts justify anything with those words, it’s almost dead-certain that he’s covering up for his own peccadilloes.

New Orleans, sadly, is full of these types. Continue reading »

May 142015
 
Billy Nungesser speaks at the Lafourche Republican Women's Meet and Greet. (photo via facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage on April 28)

Billy Nungesser speaks at the Lafourche Republican Women’s Meet and Greet. (photo via facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage on April 28)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican, it’s hard not to admire former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. If New Orleanian are asked the names of natural leaders who were on the scene fighting to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or to punch back after the BP oil spill, Nungesser’s name almost always comes up. The national media often flocked to this unabashedly outspoken but folksy businessman because of his obvious love for the region and his insistence that Louisiana deserves better. Continue reading »

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May 132015
 
A screenshot from Fantasy Forest Story, one of the many pay-as-you go mobile apps that can allow children to spend thousands of dollars on unsuspecting parents' credit cards. (via apple.com)

A screenshot from Fantasy Forest Story, one of the many pay-as-you go mobile apps that can allow children to spend thousands of dollars on unsuspecting parents’ credit cards. (via apple.com)

Wendy Romero

Wendy Romero

By Wendy Romero

Earlier this month, as I was preparing for my son’s 9th birthday party, I allowed him to play on the iPad.  Because I was busy, I allowed him to play on it longer than his usual allotted time.  I think most parents are guilty of that from time to time.

He was sitting on the living room sofa, in plain view — I am definitely an advocate for kids’ bedrooms as technology-free zones, for safety reasons and also to keep it a restful, peaceful place. Anyway, during this time, right in front of me, my son charged $3,800 worth of in-app purchases to our debit card! Continue reading »

May 072015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Our usually right-on-point Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has been in the news twice this week — first with his remarks that maybe more, better-paid police is not the answer to our crime problems and then about his proposed “divorce” with Police Monitor Susan Hutson. Now it is true that Quatrevaux is white and that Hutson, most of the police and the people they are sworn to protect are not. Does Quatrevaux just see things differently or is there more to his feelings than meets the eye? Continue reading »

May 062015
 
The shotguns in the 2400 block of Cadiz -- before their demolition (top left, via Google Maps), then during and after their demolition (by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The shotguns in the 2400 block of Cadiz — before their demolition (top left, via Google Maps), then during and after their demolition (by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

In 2002 local musical impresarios Benny Grunch and the Bunch released a song entitled “Ain’t Dere No More.”  In it the group collectively bemoan, as only the natives may, the loss of landmarks around the New Orleans metro area.  It played in my head over these last few days as I watched yet more apparently salvageable dwellings, in this case double shotguns, meet their untimely demise in the 2400 block of Cadiz.  What was more upsetting to me was that their demolition was supposedly not going to happen, and the structures were to be saved by their new owner Arnold Kirschman.  Even be occupied by him.  Except guess what?  They gone. Continue reading »

May 042015
 

Owen Courreges

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of urban planning. The idea of some committee micromanaging what structure should go where, what uses should be permitted, what time we should be having our bowel movements (ok, perhaps they don’t go that far), has always unnerved me.

A die-hard planner looks at a map of New Orleans and they don’t see an established city chock-full of independent decision-makers. Instead, they see an interactive game that they can manipulate and control. They see “Sim City.”

Exhibit “A” for this is Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who decided to put her foot in her mouth while giving a speech before the House while arguing against an amendment to block funding for an Obama Administration Flood Risk Management Executive Order. Continue reading »

Apr 232015
 
Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Acadiana-based gubernational candidate and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle made the rounds at a Cajun Fais Do Do held in his honor last night in New Orleans, he reminded the close to 100 attendees that Louisiana voters have a history of electing governors who hail from Acadiana — Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco — and that several of our recent governors — Mike Foster and Buddy Roemer — were early dark horses.

One of nine children whose father headed up the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries department and passed down his passion for the environment, Angelle was quick to differentiate himself from front-runner U.S. Senator David Vitter and his old boss Bobby Jindal. Continue reading »

Apr 202015
 

Owen Courreges

There’s an old episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge is mugged and the police are useless to catch the perpetrator. Nevertheless, Marge conquers her own fear and anxiety, managing to capture the guy who did it single-handedly.

Police Chief Wiggum arrives at the scene and proceeds to lecture the gathering crowd. “She caught her own criminal, unlike the rest of you lazy bones.”

The crowd begins to look down sheepishly. “You’re not gonna find those criminals looking at your feet, people,” Chief Wiggum chastises. Continue reading »

Apr 162015
 
Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Americans rich and poor, old and young, paused yesterday to remember the 150th anniversary of the assassination of America’s first martyred commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often considered America’s greatest president, polling way ahead of even George Washington.

A self-educated lawyer born in Kentucky’s western frontier, Lincoln became an early leader in the newly formed Republican Party and always spoke out against the expansion of slavery. Lincoln won the presidency by sweeping the North, causing the Confederate States of America to be created even before he was sworn in as America’s sixteenth president. Continue reading »

Apr 152015
 
Sleater-Kinney (via facebook.com/SleaterKinney)

Sleater-Kinney (via facebook.com/SleaterKinney)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

It all happened so innocently, my love for riotgrrl queens Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and Carrie Brownstein, collectively and arguably better known as Sleater-Kinney.  While living in Austin in the late 90s, I wanted to attend an in-store performance at Waterloo Records by this well-regarded female rock trio which at the time I had never heard of.  Unable to make the event I sprung for a copy of their third studio album, Dig Me Out, and lost my mind.  Just lost it.  What was this sound?  Who were these ladies?  The hungry, urgent beats, the sharp, frenetic guitar work, and the layered, waling vocals.  And the lyrics?  Each song was a visual field infused by carefully chosen wording arcing in harmony.  I was hooked, taken, even smitten, and I wanted more. Continue reading »