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 192014
 
NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel speaks outside the Second District station on Magazine Street in October 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel speaks outside the Second District station on Magazine Street in October 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

NOPD Commander Paul Noel — who led the NOPD Special Victims Unit prior to his appointment to the Uptown-based Second District — has been named the leader of a task force to re-investigate sex cases ignored by detectives since his departure and recommend new policies to reform the unit, officials announced Tuesday. 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 112014
 
An April 2014 image of the building at 8837 Willow, slated for redevelopment into the Carrollton Commissary commercial kitchen. (via Google Maps)

An April 2014 image of the building at 8837 Willow, slated for redevelopment into the Carrollton Commissary commercial kitchen. (via Google Maps)

A proposal to renovate a blighted Carrollton storefront into a commercial kitchen expanded into far broader discussion Tuesday of how the rapid rate of development in New Orleans affects the city’s long-time residents, but officials ultimately decided that those societal issues can’t be saddled onto an individual business owner and voted in favor of the project. Continue reading »

Nov 102014
 
An April 2014 image of the building at 8837 Willow, slated for redevelopment into the Carrollton Commissary commercial kitchen. (via Google Maps)

An April 2014 image of the building at 8837 Willow, slated for redevelopment into the Carrollton Commissary commercial kitchen. (via Google Maps)

A proposed commercial kitchen on Willow Street dubbed the “Carrollton Commissary” will return to the City Planning Commission this week, after city officials suggested two weeks ago that the business owners needed more time to discuss the project with neighbors who vocally opposed it. Continue reading »

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Oct 282014
 
The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google maps)

The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google maps)

Separate proposals for a Mexican restaurant in Broadmoor and a commercial kitchen for catering operations in Carrollton found themselves facing frustrated neighbors and hesitant officials during a City Planning meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Continue reading »

Oct 272014
 
The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google maps)

The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google Maps)

A chef at a popular Mid-City eatery hopes to open her own Mexican restaurant in Broadmoor, but first she will need to obtain commercial zoning for a former Broad Street drug store that neighbors have long fought to keep residential. Continue reading »

Oct 272014
 

Owen Courreges

When it comes to Alcoholic Beverage Outlets (ABOs), the city is an irredeemable bully.  Unless Mayor Landrieu steps in, it’s likely to continue.

Case in point: The Country Club, a bar and restaurant located in the Bywater, has long been famous for amenities such as its pool and sauna.  It is also known for its freewheeling, hedonistic atmosphere particularly characterized by its “clothing optional” policy. Continue reading »

Oct 242014
 
Commander Doug Eckert accepts his promotion to leader of the NOPD Crime Lab on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Commander Doug Eckert accepts his promotion to leader of the NOPD Crime Lab on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The New Orleans Police lieutenant charged with leading investigations in the Uptown-based Second District was promoted this week to commander and charged with leading the city’s crime lab. Continue reading »

Oct 222014
 
Halpern's Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue, photographed in June. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Halpern’s Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue, photographed in June. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

As the restaurateur planning a distillery restaurant on St. Charles Avenue prepares to ask the city for permission to sell alcohol in the building that currently houses Halpern’s Furniture Store, neighbors are voicing their concerns about how it and the associated hotel redevelopment on the block will affect their ability to park near their homes. Continue reading »

Oct 202014
 

Owen Courreges

With certain issues, there’s often a central figure whose opinion you always want to know.  If there’s a foreign policy incident, the Secretary of State should probably be consulted.  If there’s a disease outbreak, the head of the Center for Disease Control should probably be on board.  Want to gauge response to a major crime?  Let’s see what the chief of police has to say.

And if you want to take some radical step pertaining to city streets, like taking out a traffic lane in the middle of downtown New Orleans, surely you’d want to know what Chief Traffic Engineer Allen Yrle thinks of it. Heck, you might think his support would be considered crucial.

Alas, you would be wrong. Continue reading »

Oct 162014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Investors in the U.S. and around the world have been getting an economic reality shock as the markets are adjusting to a new normal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen five percent in the last five days. Though certainly not the biggest loss in history, it does send a clear message that growth has been slowed in every corner of the planet — probably by “bad policy making and political inaction”, according to TIME. Continue reading »

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Oct 152014
 

A plan to sell off a vacant lot formerly used as a filling station for New Orleans Police Department vehicles near the rebounding Broad Street commercial corridor has been postponed indefinitely while city officials try to determine the extent of soil contamination under the site, but Broadmoor activists say it will likely attract strong interest once it goes to auction. Continue reading »

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Oct 132014
 
A rendering by architect David Keiffer of the proposed community center in Carrollton. (via Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association)

A rendering by architect David Keiffer of the proposed community center in Carrollton. (via Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association)

As the start of construction nears on a new community center funded by a state investment of more than $1 million, members of the Carrollton neighborhood remain apprehensive about the organization chosen to operate it — despite repeated assurances from officials that this is the most effective use of the land and the money moving forward. Continue reading »

Oct 132014
 

Owen Courreges

No, you’re not imagining things.  Violent crime in New Orleans is definitely getting worse.

Alas, the NOPD’s proposed “solutions” aren’t getting any better.

Just this month, the so-called “brown paper bag bandit” robbed two people in separate incidents two days apart – both within spitting distance of Trinity Episcopal Church.  Those robberies especially stuck with me because they occurred with a couple of blocks of my house. Continue reading »

Oct 082014
 

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The owners of the French Quarter’s Sylvain easily continued their path toward a new restaurant on Magazine Street last week, when the City Council voted to approve alcohol sales in the building. Continue reading »

Oct 062014
 

Owen Courreges

It’s called the “BigBelly,” and it’s being pitched to cities across the country as a miracle of American innovation.  It’s a solar-powered trash compactor designed to replace ordinary city trash receptacles.  There is practically no green-tech buzzword that doesn’t apply to these things.

I first began seeing the BigBellies in New Orleans last year along the Canal Streetcar line.  The website Clean Technica reported in December 2012 that the city hoped to have “at least 150 solar-powered trash compactors installed,” before the Super Bowl and that, contracts and bidding permitted, “[t]his number could be expanded to 242.”

Presently, the city is planning on expanding the BigBelly receptacles to the French Quarter and Downtown Development District.   The bid date is set for October 30th at 11 a.m.  It’s happening, and it’s happening soon.

What hasn’t happened, at least as far as I can see, is proper due diligence. Continue reading »

Oct 012014
 
Possible options for the Napoleon Avenue landscaping. (UptownMessenger.com)

Possible options for the Napoleon Avenue landscaping. (UptownMessenger.com)

As contractors have begun digging deep underneath South Claiborne, Jefferson, Napoleon and now Louisiana avenues to install new drainage ditches, Uptown New Orleans residents have asked pointed questions prior to each project about what the neutral ground will look like when the projects are finally done over the next three years.

On Tuesday night, those residents got their first look at possible answers, including a continuation of the walking path down Napoleon Avenue, public art installations on South Claiborne, tall palms restored to Jefferson Avenue and a variety of landscaping options on Louisiana. For many, however, those answers led to more questions — such as whether the projects will incorporate ideas from the city’s new water-management strategy, which plants could be harmful to traffic visibility in certain locations, and how the canopies over the avenues will look with the finished projects. Continue reading »