UptownMessenger.com

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 »

Feb 022015
 

Owen Courreges

I personally loathe either giving or receiving directions, particularly in New Orleans.  With all the twists and turns in the Crescent City, it’s a sure bet that there’s at least one step where you’ll have to “bear” onto something or venture on some convoluted path to make a left turn, all the while cursing the lack of rhyme and reason to the whole mess.

It’s all part and parcel of living in a city established nearly three-hundred years ago along a winding river.  The streets tend to take on a life of their own.

Now, sadly, it’s about to become ever more difficult to meander some streets of Uptown New Orleans.  Yes, the City Planning Commission (CPC) has once again exhibited its total lack of purpose, this time by approving needless street name changes borne of local political horse-trading. Continue reading »

Jan 302015
 
A sneak peek at the new playground equipment at Samuel Square. (Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

A sneak peek at the new playground equipment at Samuel Square. The playground will receive its official dedication at 2 p.m. today. (Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Today marks the official grand re-opening of the recently totally redone Samuel Square playground in the 2100 block of Napoleon, though the caution tape was removed a few days ago.  And wow!  Akin to other nearby brightly colored and playful compositions of many reborn play areas (think Laurence Square but moreso the Danneel Playspot at Octavia and St Charles) this 21st century facelift to this centuries old green space does not disappoint.  And being a parent to young children (and a also a tax-paying neighbor myself) just a few blocks away from Samuel Square my level of engagement is set to maximum.  And for many reasons. Continue reading »

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Jan 292015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

First some full disclosure: Allan has know Tom Benson since his Times Picayune days and even spent a weekend at Tom’s ranch in Texas; Allan and later Allan and Danae did consulting work for Benson; Gayle Bird Benson used to come on our cable show to raise money for St. Louis Cathedral; we attended their wedding reception ten years ago; Danae has also worked with lawyer Randy Smith on campaign events.

So, like everyone else in New Orleans, we have been closely following the Benson family feud and the obvious greed that surrounds it. Who would have thought the tenacious ninth ward graduate of St. Aloysius and Loyola-trained accountant would become the billionaire that everyone — except his other four living children, apparently — are fighting over. Continue reading »

Jan 262015
 

Owen Courreges

Author’s Note:  Owen is inconsolable this week after the passing of yet another needless, paternalistic ordinance by the New Orleans City Council.  Following a mental breakdown, Owen now believes himself to be Bland Landers, an imaginary cantankerous brother of noted advice columnist Ann Landers.  Thus, the following advice column will run today in place of Owen’s usual rantings.

Dear Bland,

My husband and I recently moved in next to a longstanding juke joint, and as we anticipated, it’s far too noisy.  Adding insult to this complete absence of injury, they’re also having music more often that they used to because the bar has become more successful (which also means more people loitering around, which makes me nervous for reasons I usually discuss in vague, coded language).  I’ve called the police out several times without warning to harass them, but nothing ever gets done.  What do I do?

– Batty in the Bywater Continue reading »

Jan 222015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Every reader of this column probably knows a woman who has used abortion as a powerful tool to help guide her body and her life choices.  National statistics consistently show that three out of 10 women have had an abortion — that’s all women, young , old, black, white, Asian and Hispanic.

We’re not sure any woman makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy easily. But it is a decision that millions of women around the world make each year and often pay the consequences emotionally for decades to come. Still, there are no medical, ethical or moral reasons strong enough to ban abortions entirely. Continue reading »

Jan 192015
 

Owen Courreges

‘Twas a clash of titans. In this corner, Mayor Mitch “the glitch” Landrieu, the scion of a Louisiana political dynasty, who has disappointed many by presiding over a sudden spike of crime in the French Quarter and a corrupt, ineffectual NOPD.

And in the next corner, Sidney “the insufferable” Torres, part-time New Orleans resident and garbage robber baron, who is always kvetching nauseatingly about any real or perceived threat to his property values. Continue reading »

Jan 152015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Poor Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Winner of two landslide elections, seemingly one of America’s most successful and articulate mayors, architect of a New Orleans post-Katrina renaissance, he has to be wondering what hit him. It seems like his plunge from the penthouse to the outhouse took place almost overnight.

The big punch, of course, began with a sudden surge in Vieux Carre crime that quickly got completely out of control. Gangs of thugs began roaming French Quarter streets, beating people up as well as robbing them. The Vieux Carre community responded with fury, holding rallies, complaining that they were living in Landrieuville where no one is safe for even a moment. Continue reading »

Jan 122015
 

Owen Courreges

The NOPD is looking for a few good cops.  It just doesn’t care if they’re very smart.

In a December 29, 2014 letter to the Civil Service Commission, Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison advocated removing the requirement that police recruits obtain at least 60 higher education credits, with exceptions for those possessing prior military or law enforcement experience.

According to Harrison, all that fancy book learnin’ just ain’t necessary.  He’d prefer to emphasize “workforce training over formal classroom education.”  Furthermore, the 60-credit mandate damages “NOPD’s ability to recruit and hire qualified police officers by excluding . . . those who cannot afford a higher education.” Continue reading »

Jan 102015
 

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

With the 2015 JazzFest lineup set about to be revealed on Monday, my thoughts have escalated into the unknown and the possible for who and what might appear this season.  In the past my notions have been met with mild success, what with HangoutFest and its line-up, now firmly affixed in mid-May, often casting a who’s who of who isn’t playing JazzFest.  Somehow I feel like this is my year.  The Who / Joan Jett are touring ensemble at this time with a mysterious void in their tour around JazzFest, same with Hozier and Wilco; so to say they’re all candidates exceeds likelihood.  As such, I shall humbly exclude them from my top 10.  Therefore without further delay: prognosticate this! Continue reading »

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