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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Jan 082015

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Why hasn’t the Steve Scalise story died down yet? Because Rep. Scalise was less than forthright when he first spoke about the incident. Therefore, reporters and others continue to analyze the story and what it means about the Republicans’ ability to build a larger, more diverse constituency before the presidential elections.

Some things are certain. David Duke was a Republican elected official and a member of the Louisiana Legislature. That gave him respect. Other legislators secretly — or not so secretly — liked his ideas. Duke was wildly popular with white voters in Jefferson Parish and Louisiana in general, by his strong showing in the governor’s race against Edwin Edwards. Continue reading »

Jan 072015
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

It’s officially Mardi Gras in New Orleans again.  And thank goodness.  It truly is my favorite holiday anywhere every period, for true.  Parties, parades, shenanigans, and any semblance therein.  The rituals, the costumes, and it being New Orleans, of course, the food.  In that vein, part of the hoopla embraces the incessant consumption of brightly colored, sugared up beyond belief, roundish breaded pastry, that may or may not have a wee plastic baby figurine inside, simply and distinctly known as king cake.  Only, I turned 40 recently, and this season I’m watching that part of Carnival from the cheap seats. Continue reading »

Jan 052015

Owen Courreges

Since August 2004, six New Orleans police officers have been killed.  Two died in auto accidents with other motorists.  One died from an illness contracted while conducting rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina.  Another was killed off-duty during a home invasion.

The two remaining officers were killed while on-duty.  Both were killed by men suffering from severe mental illness. Continue reading »

Jan 012015

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

When we look at the many national experts who are predicting Americans – in general – will have a good 2015, we also want to look at those indicators in terms of New Orleans. The U.S. and certainly New Orleans’ economy appears to be hitting its stride. GDP growth nationally will rise approximately three percent, despite turmoil in global oil markets, concerns over stock valuations, war and the recession, according to WalletHub, a one-stop information source for consumers and small business owners. Continue reading »

Dec 292014

Owen Courreges

New Year’s Day is now nearly upon us. As has always been the case, the libations will flow and drunken debauchery will rule the streets. We will celebrate having endured one more journey around the sun on this world of ours by getting blotto.

Of course, there was a brief period when that wasn’t the case.

“The first day of the New Year was observed, rather than celebrated by New Orleans, with hushful Sabbatical ceremony,” a reporter for the Times-Picayune observed during Prohibition. Continue reading »

Dec 252014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Each year at this time, we reflect on how blessed we are to be citizens of the United States of America and thank God for our courageous grandparents who came to this country with little more than the clothing on their backs. They opened doors for us and we will always be grateful for their courage and the many great things about being a U.S. citizen. Continue reading »

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Dec 242014

jewel bush

Today, on Christmas Eve, the holiday classic, “A Christmas Story,” will air for 24 hours straight.

I’ve indulged in this marathon, a new-fangled Christmas tradition, for many years.

But this year, I just can’t approach this movie with the same light-hearted spirit. My thoughts turn to Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy, who was shot by a police officer on November 22 — shortly before Thanksgiving — for playing with a toy gun in a park. Continue reading »

Dec 222014

Owen Courreges

Christmastime in New Orleans is magical.  Whether you’re a visitor or a local, there is much to enjoy.

You can take a sojourn to “Holiday in the Oaks” at City Park, ride a streetcar down St. Charles adorned with festive holly, enjoy a hearty, traditional Reveillion dinner, or you can get brutally beaten in the CBD in a random attack with no discernible motive or purpose. Continue reading »

Dec 182014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll pointed out that the majority of voters were pleased with the results of this year’s midterm elections and thought the Congress — rather than President Obama — should take the lead in setting policy for the country.  Though an overwhelming majority felt that not much change in direction for the country will result from the election, the numbers are a good starting point for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 61, as he aims to clear the field in advance of a brutal campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Although there are other GOP candidates worthy of voter consideration (including Mitt Romney and Chris Christie), Bush — with his “Double B” presidential pedigree and easy access to donors — is the early favorite, ramping up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffling the GOP’s policy debate. Continue reading »

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Dec 152014
(illustration by Owen Courreges)

(illustration by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell is set to preview the next installment in her cavalcade of “progressive” policies enacted by other cities. This past week, she announced her intention to introduce a non-binding “Welcoming Resolution” early next year that will include a laundry list of policies proposed by immigrant rights groups.

Don’t get me wrong – some of the policies being suggested are perfectly reasonable. I can hardly dispute the need for multi-language signs and forms at City Hall, or for hiring more Spanish-speakers in the NOPD and in government offices.  We’re relatively close to the Mexican border, and we do need to accommodate the needs of Spanish-speakers.

However, Cantrell’s brief tenure thus far has shown that she has never been one to stop with reasonable policies.  Thus, she also announced that she wants to create a system of municipal identification cards, ostensibly so that illegal immigrants can have photographic identification and proof of residence. Continue reading »