UptownMessenger.com

Mar 232015
 
(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

Owen Courreges

The city of New Orleans has never been very good at doing things, although it has consistently shown a remarkable ability to publicize those few things it actually does.

It’s like a child who draws crude stick figures and insists on displaying them prominently on the fridge. Were they older, the self-promotion would seem ridiculous, but because of lowered expectations afforded to children onlookers are expected to feign awe and admiration.

These thoughts came to mind when I heard about the city’s new website, RoadWork (http://roadwork.nola.gov), a joint project between the Department of Public Works and the Sewerage & Water Board designed “to inform citizens about past, current, and future road work projects that affect their daily lives.” Continue reading »

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Mar 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive.

We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 
The author and bride, still on honeymoon. (submitted photos by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The author and bride, still on honeymoon. (submitted photos by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

My wife and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss this past Saturday, Pi Day of Pi Days, 10 years more than that well-tread, betrothed bauble: the Seven Year Itch.  How do we do it?  Maybe the question is why?  Better, does it matter to the world at large?  Answer: I don’t know, maybe, and kinda.  A pearl I’ll toss in your general direction is this: never stop being on your honeymoon.  Sage advice?  The credit goes to the wise Carl Hampton, a native New Orleanian I met years ago who — without being prompted as I recall — wised me to what makes a marriage last. Continue reading »

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Mar 162015
 

Owen Courreges

Note: The author has once again suffered a mental break and lapsed into his s“Bland Landers: Advice Columnist” persona. The following is the grisly outcome.

Dear Bland,

I am a developer pitching plans for the old World Trade Center building. My proposal includes a plan for a some twisty-gondola things that go up to an observation deck, and then come back down. Remember those gondolas at the World’s Fair back in ’84? Well, it’s like those only instead of taking you across the river, it just takes you up and then back down again (kind of like an elevator, but without the utility). I guess my question is, what in the World Trade Center is wrong with me? Continue reading »

Mar 122015
 
Immigration papers for the author's mother, Vera Columbus. (submitted photo)

Naturalization papers from 1944 for the author’s mother, Vera Columbus. (submitted photo)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

My mother Vera was a scientist, a University of Pennsylvania-trained microbiologist to be exact, who integrated the miracles of science into her everyday life as a wife and mother. Unfortunately, all the recent advances in medicine could not protect her from the ravages of dementia which eventually robbed Mother of the ability to walk, talk or even feed herself. At 88, Mother succumbed to that often misunderstood disease last Saturday. Continue reading »

Mar 112015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Prologue: Each Saturday at noon on WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans, Mark Tobler’s DJ set almost always opens with John Hartford’s song “Back in the Good Old Days.”  The song is a projection of a future population residing at a city dump, and while there — though they may imbibe as a community — the topic of discussion and conversation will be remembering when things were better and wondering how things became what they are.

The 21st century has been a veritable roller coaster thus far for the Crescent City.  Storms, diaspora, growth, crime, food highs, political lows, Hollywood South, hospital hubbub, even an entrepreneurial hotbed too.  It’s downright dizzying at times.  And then there’s our blight — and the quest to remedy that scourge, often via demolition.  We as a city often decry the Big Easy brand as slipping away via noise ordinances, smoking bans, whatever legal challenges and changes that float through City Hall.  But removing the landscape in the name of the greater good?  To be sure, there’s no faster way to becoming Anywhere, USA. Continue reading »

Mar 102015
 
The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The City Planning Commission gave its nod Tuesday to a developer’s plan to convert the former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission in the Irish Channel into condominiums, but required that he provide off-street parking behind the building. Continue reading »

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Mar 092015
 

Owen Courreges

If there’s anything that probably deserves government attention, it’s preventing children from getting mowed down while they get to and from school. No politician has ever, to my knowledge, run on a platform of exposing children to the greater risk from Mr. Distracted McNeglient’s murder-mobile.

Thus, if you’ve been reading The Lens lately, you’ve been understandably disturbed by a series of articles regarding the operation (or rather, the lack thereof) of New Orleans’ school zone lights. The first article detailed the results of a Lens survey performed this January which revealed that “[s]ix out of 10 — 87 out of 147 in active school zones — were malfunctioning.” Continue reading »

Mar 052015
 
Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Gov. Jindal continues to make drastic cuts to the state’s budget, especially in education and public safety, income from the sale and cultivation of marijuana — even medical marijuana — could begin to fill the state’s budget gap.

Already three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana, although the D.C.’s Council passed emergency legislation just yesterday to tighten up the law voters recently approved. Twenty-three states along with the District of Columbia have also legalized medical marijuana. The voters of Louisiana overwhelmingly supported the legalization of medical marijuana in a 2014 LSU poll. With tight regulation, it may also be possible that Governor Jindal could support medical marijuana, according to news reports. Continue reading »

Mar 042015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

The tireless subject of back taxes and property auctions in the New Orleans metro area has once again garnered much buzz in the last week.  True, it is an exciting topic for the Crescent City citizenry at large as we wade through the thankfully diminishing blight, too often witnessing the demise of structure too far gone not to be demolished.  That’s the downside for sure.  The upside?  Seemingly countless blocks are given new looks from fresh eyes.  That said, understanding the what and the how of these processes should demand the lion’s share of your attention if you fancy yourself the real-estate investor type, because well, this ain’t eBay.  Continue reading »

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Mar 022015
 

Owen Courreges

Transit for the poor? What a curious thought.

Although in theory a primary purpose of transit is to provide necessary transportation for those too poor to afford a reliable vehicle, the reality is that the poor are generally the ones who are shortchanged. Continue reading »

Feb 262015
 
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

More than 100 donors forked over $2500 each last night for cocktails with Mayor Mitch Landrieu. On everyone’s lips was the same question: Is Mitch running? Those asking included Winston, Sheila and Ronnie Burns (he introduced Mitch), lots of WTC bidders including Darryl and Louella Berger with partners Joe Jaeger and Roger Ogden; Paul Woodward; Pres Kabacoff, former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy and Edward Boettner; and Al Thompson and Arnold Baker with their spouses. Continue reading »

Feb 232015
 

Owen Courreges

Another week passes, and another vapid, unthinking ordinance begins snaking its way through the city council.

This round, it’s a “living wage” ordinance recently introduced by Councilman Jared Brossett.  At a legislative breakfast held earlier this month, Brossett depicted the law as a palliative for New Orleans’ notorious and persistent epidemic of poverty.

“Income inequality — I don’t need to tell y’all this. It’s vast. I mean, we were compared to Zambia, as far as income inequality,” Brossett said. “That is ridiculous, as we are part of one of the richest and strongest nations on this planet.” Continue reading »

Feb 192015
 
Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free during a town-hall session on the issue in July 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free during a town-hall session on the issue in July 2014. Miller said at the time that many bar owners privately looked forward to a ban. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

By Lawson Box

While bar patrons have mixed feelings about the new citywide ban on smoking indoors, some university area bar owners say they are happy about the ordinance as they expect even more students to frequent local watering holes. Continue reading »

Feb 192015
 
Senator David Vitter rides in the Krewe of Bacchus in 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Senator David Vitter rides in the Krewe of Bacchus in 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s well known that U.S. Senator David Vitter is running away with the governor’s race at this time and we think there’s no better way to understand a man and his values than to look at where he spends his money, in this case $600,000 spent in 2014 according to Vitter’s campaign finance report.

Where does he eat in New Orleans, compared to other parts of the state? Whose coffee does he drink? Which hotels and airlines does he prefer, on campaign stops or in Florida? Continue reading »

Feb 162015
 

Owen Courreges

Mardi Gras is a time for drunken debauchery. Carnival is also a time when our city is most laid bare for the country to see. Our people are judged, our government is judged, and the general quality of our celebration is – as one would expect – judged.

This year, I have stared into the maw of the beast that is our Carnival Season and drawn out the following scorecard (thus far): Continue reading »

Feb 122015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like everyone else in New Orleans, we want the NOPD to right a tightly managed, right-sized operation that keeps us all safe.  We realize it might take two or three years to really hire a full complement of officers. We can live with new officers who might not meet the highest educational standards. We are glad the Chief has thought through his management needs enough to ask the Civil Service Commission for authorization to hire a civilian assistant to drive his ball down the field.

While we were not thrilled when the NOPD’s Office of Secondary Employment was created, we really hate the fact that the office’s leadership have been keeping the majority of plum assignments for themselves, as reported by The Advocate this week.  These actions cost the rank and file money. They damage morale, decrease officer retention, and discourage new officers from accepting positions on the force. No wonder morale is an ongoing problem! Continue reading »

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Feb 112015
 

Kate Scott

Kate Scott

By Kate Scott, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

New Orleans has a troubling legacy to overcome when it comes to the condition of its rental homes, even though more than half the City’s residents are renters. Such conditions have wide-ranging effects on everything from health to educational outcomes. Many renters find themselves having to move because they can’t get dangerous housing conditions addressed. When people have to move a lot, neighborhood stability goes down and so does public safety.

In a City where rents have skyrocketed beyond the reach of many working families, New Orleans renters deserve assurances that the homes they live in meet basic standards of quality and safety. A rental registry program would be good for New Orleans and can be designed in a way that is not overly cumbersome for the many landlords in the City that are just trying to do the right thing. Continue reading »

Feb 092015
 

Owen Courreges

Stacy Head did not appear happy this past week with her colleague on the city council, LaToya Cantrell.  Without any real warning, Cantrell announced vague plans to rapidly introduce an ordinance to create a rental inspection bureaucracy with regular inspections and a comprehensive online database.

“I reiterate my position that this ordinance is not ready for introduction next week,” Head frustratedly wrote in an email to the council. “The lightning speed with which this is moving as well as the apparent insular nature of the discussion is disconcerting.” Continue reading »

Feb 052015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Mirror, mirror on the wall…who’s the fairest of us all? Even if Governor Bobby Jindal did not suggest to artist Tommy Yow that the portrait big-time donor Henry Shane was commissioning should portray Jindal with a more fair complexion, the painting was hung in a very prominent place at the governor’s office.

While Jindal is probably not trying to lighten his skin à la Michael Jackson, the presidential candidate Jindal apparently did not mind being depicted with a more fair complexion.  Are people with lighter skin considered better, safer, more desirable, more “American”? Continue reading »