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 »

 Comments Off
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 »

Dec 112014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Congressman Bill Cassidy’s strong win against Sen. Mary Landrieu last week and Sen. David Vitter’s role as chief strategist has set up a powerful Cassidy/Vitter connection that will put an imprint on Louisiana for years to come.  Together they will also be a powerful force in Washington as Vitter uses his clout in the Republican Party to help better position Cassidy, who could quickly find himself Louisiana’s senior senator if Vitter becomes our next governor. Continue reading »

Dec 082014

Owen Courreges

It’s a catchy title: “91%.” However, it stands for something far less significant.

Local documentary filmmaker John Richie has certainly adopted a theme. His previous effort, “Shell Shocked,” aimed to portray the gritty reality of youth gun violence in New Orleans. He now plans to follow up that film with “91%,” which is being pitched as “a film about gun background checks and the people whose lives they impact.” Continue reading »

Dec 042014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement was definitely in the air at the Windsor Court Monday night as 150 well-heeled donors patiently waited for an intimate concert by the great Stevie Wonder to begin.  Attorney Tim Francis convinced Wonder, his old boss, to perform at the big ticket fundraiser for Mary Landrieu and served as master of ceremonies. Wonder told the crowd he and Landrieu “shared the same values” and that’s why he came. Continue reading »

Dec 012014
A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city's response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city’s response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courreges

Procrastinating until something becomes absolutely critical is undeniably an American tradition.  And when it comes to procrastinating, New Orleans is always at the forefront.

There’s an example of this phenomenon just down the street and around the corner from my house.  In the 2000 block of Coliseum Street there has long been a broken water or drainage line (it’s unclear which).  It first became obvious over seven years ago when the street began to sink and the adjacent brick sidewalk began to break apart. Continue reading »

Nov 272014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Danae arrived in Arkansas just in time for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Brookfield, where Vera, her 88-year old mother, resides. A place card on the table proclaimed “I am thankful for Vera.” It made her also reflect on the many things in New Orleans we are thankful for this year. Continue reading »

Nov 262014

jewel bush

My 11-year-old son used his allowance to purchase a BB gun at Academy Sports & Outdoors on a shopping trip with his grandfather a few weeks ago.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about it. My father, who grew up in Rosa, a rural agricultural community in St. Landry Parish, thought nothing of it. He grew up hunting deer, rabbit and whatever else was in season along with his eight brothers and scores of cousins. Back in his day, as kids, they handled real shotguns, not replicas, and missed weeks at a time of school to help his father in the fields. Continue reading »

Nov 242014

Owen Courreges

Aldous Huxley once wrote that “a fanatic is a man who consciously over compensates a secret doubt.”  This helps explain the bizarrely-detailed 25 page anti-smoking ordinance proposed this past Thursday by Councilwomen Latoya Cantrell and Susan Guidry.

Even I didn’t predict the staggering scope of the ordinance.  Instead of being content to simply ban most indoor smoking, already a contentious proposal, the bill seeks to ban most outdoor smoking as well and treats electronic cigarettes, which produce no smoke, the same way as traditional cigarettes.  It contains no exceptions for hookah lounges or cigar bars. Continue reading »

Nov 202014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top. 

First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu.  Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out. Continue reading »

Nov 172014

Owen Courreges

There’s an old joke that “NOPD” stands for “Not Our Problem, Dude.”  When it comes to investigating sex crimes, alas, it’s simply the reality of the situation.

A report from the New Orleans Office of the Inspector General released this past week showed that the NOPD is essentially ignoring the vast majority of sex crimes.  The OIG report studied 1,290 sex crime incidents from 2011 to 2013 assigned to five detectives (almost a third of the 16 detectives in the Special Victims Section).  Of those, only 179, or 14%, included a supplemental report reflecting that the claim had been properly investigated. Continue reading »

Nov 152014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like other remaining Democratic candidates around the country, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu knows she must increase her support among black and white females to emerge victorious on Dec. 6. That’s why Norma Jane Sabiston, Kristin Palmer, Angele Wilson and others are again reaching out to 5,000 key women supporters statewide to build Mary’s Army, highly committed grassroots warriors who will knock doors and work phones non-stop for the next three weeks. Armed with pink t-shirts and lists of likely voters, these women clearly understand the campaign’s success rests largely on their ability to persuade voters one person at a time. Not only does the Landrieu camp need to turn out a larger number of African-American voters, they also need to convince white voters to switch from Cassidy. Continue reading »

Nov 142014

On Nov. 14th, 2008, I was lucky enough to be graced with daughter number three. Third time’s the charm, right? After a relatively short, natural labor at Touro Hospital, post lunch at the then Blue Bird Café (now Coulis), Rosalie Eleanor deVille Villere popped out about 5 o’clock that Friday evening, and things have never been the same since. Today she turns a mighty six, and here’s a little glimpse as to why she’s so special:

Jean-Paul with a then 3 1/2 year old Rosalie in Summer 2012 at Coliseum Square.  Photo credit to Brenda Hanegan.

Jean-Paul with a then 3 1/2 year old Rosalie in Summer 2012 at Coliseum Square. Photo credit to Brenda Hanegan.

First of all, the labor: again, it was just a few short hours. Really. Granted I didn’t do the heavy lifting here, but what makes mama happy makes papa happy; ergo, kudos to the kiddo. This was a more than welcome event given the birth of daughter number two was an emergency C section. Allow me to understate that it was a showstopper, and leave it at that. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Nov 122014

jewel bush

One day last week, I was walking down Magazine Street when this guy screamed out to me from across the street, “Hey! You so pretty.”

First off, being yelled at startled me. I was horrified when I turned to find this strange man speeding toward me.

With a blank look on my face, I said, “Thank you,” and began to walk faster. Continue reading »

Nov 112014

Owen Courreges

Three years ago, on November 11, 2011, I published a column entitled “The O.C. Haley Non-Commercial District.”

Within that piece, I criticized the notion that O.C. Haley Boulevard, a noted commercial street in Central City, was ripe for private investment.  Led by Councilwoman Stacy Head, it had become a common trope that any business afflicted with zoning issues should simply move there, where City Hall wanted them to be.

In response, I suggested that the use of O.C. Haley as an example of an opportune destination for businesses crushed by obscenely unreasonable zoning restrictions was crass and, frankly, just added insult to injury.  The only virtue of O.C. Haley was that it was being pushed by government interests, which explained why only a handful of private businesses moved in.  The only major influx was the veritable cavalcade of nonprofit entities (i.e., non-taxpayers). Continue reading »

Nov 072014
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Presently there is a billboard that slaps you in the face as you travel southbound on I-55 away from Ponchatoula at the turn, before the stretch over the Maurepas. Quite simply, it reads, “Eat Louisiana Sweet Potatoes.” When I first saw it, I was getting ready for a potluck a few days later. I immediately considered the command and thought, “Okay.” Next trip to Rouses?  Sweet potatoes acquisition.  Served at the potluck?  Super tasty sweet potato casserole with a touch of cayenne and crunchy, melty marshmallow topping.  Ah!  The power of advertising!  Pat yourself on the back, powers that be. Continue reading »

Nov 062014
Allan Katz poses with Seymour D'Fair, portrayed by Mark Romig. (photo courtesy of Allan Katz)

Allan Katz poses with Seymour D’Fair, portrayed by Mark Romig. (photo courtesy of Allan Katz)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As we mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair, the memories come flooding back.
It was underfunded and always in crisis, and for those who were part of the World’s Fair team it was a six-month roller coaster ride with near spills every day. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Nov 042014

jewel bush

By 10:30 a.m. yesterday, the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections, I had already received three political campaign calls.

When my cell rang for the third time in an hour with a call from yet another unfamiliar phone number, I was beyond perturbed. I heard President Barack Obama’s voice and immediately hung up.

Yes, I hung up on the leader of the Free World. Continue reading »

Nov 032014

Owen Courreges

Election day is tomorrow.  If you’re like me, you’re relishing in the opportunity to vote for a smattering of ill-considered proposals and lackluster candidates in the vain, fleeting hope of actually making this city a better place.

However, I am also aware that there are those of you who are just short of hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the proposed state constitutional amendments.   Usually, constitutional amendments are for matters of great public import; in Louisiana, though, they tend to be a bunch of random crap.

With this in mind, I have created the following voters guide to the proposed Louisiana constitutional amendments, together with my recommendations (spoiler alert: I hate pretty much all of them). Continue reading »