Sep 012015
 

Emily Palit

Emily Palit

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” ― Mark Twain

America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” ― Tennessee Williams

In my neighborhood a fast food chain restaurant, Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, rented a space without a liquor license. Within four months, they requested a permit to sell alcohol. A frequent reaction has been: “What’s the problem? I like a margarita or a beer with my Mexican food.” Continue reading »

Aug 312015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Last week I was running to grab a take-out order from a nearby tavern, and the only parking nearby was metered. This meant confronting one of the city’s new solar-powered parking meters. After hiking more than a half block to reach the nearest meter (it was not positioned ideally), I fumbled in my pocket for money to feed the proverbial beast.

“Fortunately, I have change,” I thought to myself. “A couple of quarters should do the trick.”

First, I pressed the keypad to activate the meter. It took a few seconds for the thing to power up, because apparently these meters boot from floppy discs. Then the screen told me to swipe a card or insert bills. For some reason, there was no option for inserting coins. Continue reading »

Aug 292015
 
Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday.. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Stephanie Jordan sings during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Stephanie Jordan sings during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Over the last week, the 10th anniversary of New Orleans has a tale of two narratives: the city’s official story of recovery and a newly heralded “resilience,” contrasted with media accounts describing the growing disparities from neighborhood to neighborhood.

In an attempt to bridge both those perspectives, former President Bill Clinton used his keynote address during Saturday’s commemorative ceremonies to call for a “new unity” in New Orleans, saying the city should both celebrate the progress made since the floods and rededicate itself to overcoming the deeply-rooted challenges that remain. Continue reading »

Aug 272015
 
Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For many New Orleanians life has never been the same since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, and their sense of community. Katrina was an experience they do not want to relive on this or any other anniversary. For them, the grief process is ongoing. African Americans especially feel the rules were stacked against them, making their recovery even harder. Continue reading »

Aug 252015
 
Attorney Rick Richter holds up a picture of the former McDonogh No. 8 building that was on the vacant land now at 3139 Constance Street, arguing that it represents the large-scale development that should be allowed there. (photo via nola.gov)

Attorney Rick Richter holds up a picture of the former McDonogh No. 8 building that was on the vacant land now at 3139 Constance Street, arguing that it represents the large-scale development that should be allowed there. (photo via nola.gov)

A small plot of land on Constance Street in the Irish Channel long mistaken for a pocket park should be developed into single-family or double houses, not the condo building that the owner wants there, said New Orleans city planners on Tuesday. Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 
Rosalind Peychaud, immediate past president of the Climana Neighborhood Association, holds a sign encouraging her neighbors to email photos of local quality of life problems to the association. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Rosalind Peychaud, immediate past president of the Climana Neighborhood Association, holds a sign encouraging her neighbors to email photos of local quality of life problems to the association. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

As she recently ended her term as president of the Climana Neighborhood Association in the Milan area, Rosalind Peychaud found herself grappling with the same issue that many neighborhood leaders do: New Orleans residents are the first ones to notice street-level problems with crime, blight, and other issues, but are often frustrated with how hard it is to get something done about it.

So, Peychaud whipped up her own solution: a grassroots campaign encouraging the use of the ubiquitous cell-phone camera for something more useful than selfies, positioning the neighborhood association as the advocate for reporting the problems captured in a photo and tracking their results. Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in case you’ve been locked in a closet for the past few weeks and have thus been spared the maudlin, self-indulgent navel-gazing of every commentator that comes down the pike.

For some, Katrina was an opportunity seized. The guiding narrative is that of a city in decline that took advantage of adversity and emerged stronger. It’s a characterization of Katrina that’s equal parts appalling and inaccurate. We are not in a better position as entire swaths of neighborhoods lay in ruin and our population is greatly reduced. Continue reading »

Aug 182015
 
Ecole Bilingue is developing a formerly vacant lot at 820 General Pershing into a school garden. (submitted photo by Faye Lieder)

Ecole Bilingue is developing a formerly vacant lot at 820 General Pershing into a school garden. (submitted photo by Faye Lieder)

For years, neighbors and preservationists fought to save a century-old home at 820 General Pershing Street from the wrecking ball, and despaired when it was finally demolished late last year.

But instead of the commercial parking lot they once dreaded, the vacant lot is instead becoming a school garden for the nearby Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orléans, and neighbors say they are unexpectedly pleased by its appearance. Continue reading »

Aug 172015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

The City of New Orleans is sending a message, loud and clear: Free public parking lots? You’ve had a good run, but your days are over.

I worked in the CBD a few years back, and initially I opted to utilize the free parking underneath the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expessway overpass. Although homeless people tended to congregate in the area nearest to the New Orleans Mission, the area further down by St. Charles Avenue tended to be wide open. Continue reading »

Aug 142015
 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and property owner Ruppert Kohlmeier (seated, front row) listen to a question from the audience at the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association meeting Thursday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and property owner Ruppert Kohlmeier (seated, front row) listen to a question from the audience at the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association meeting Thursday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Just when the Irish Channel had come to accept that the little plot of land on Constance Street just off Magazine is not a park, on Tuesday — through the most tortured machinations of New Orleans bureaucracy — it became a park.

Of course, the little patch of ground is still not really a park. But what it will become after it stops being not-a-park remains stubbornly unclear, leading to a heated discussion Thursday night among the property owner, the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. Continue reading »

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Aug 132015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s no secret to political insiders that State Treasurer John Kennedy has his eyes set on David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat if Vitter is elected governor. Vitter would be in a unique position to recommend his successor and could easily select Louisiana’s popular Republican State Treasurer. Kennedy is now running a television commercial that depicts himself as a statesman worthy of voters’ support. Kennedy is also starting to be a stand-in for Vitter, defending the U.S. Senator on several tough issues. We should all expect more of that coziness as the campaign continues. Continue reading »

Aug 102015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Housing costs have been rising to unsustainable levels in New Orleans as the market struggles to increase supply to satisfy the demand. Alas, not everyone is sanguine about the ways in which demand is being met.

First, there is infill development, i.e., building housing on vacant lots in existing neighborhoods. However, in the most popular New Orleans neighborhoods, opportunities for development are scarce and developers are starting to build on smaller, irregular lots. Continue reading »

Aug 062015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Today’s debate at the New Orleans City Council is another symbolic step in the long-term struggle for New Orleans’ working poor to earn the living wage they deserve to support their families.

Though New Orleans has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Hurricane Katrina as well as an influx of skilled young professionals, we still rank second in income inequity among 300 U.S. cities. In fact, income disparity in New Orleans has increased in recent years, according to the New Orleans Data Center. Continue reading »

Jul 302015
 
City workers remove a section of pavement from Pine Street in May 2015 to repair a broken water main underneath it. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City workers remove a section of pavement from Pine Street in May 2015 to repair a broken water main underneath it. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses District B residents about the city's budget at KIPP Central City Academy in 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses District B residents about the city’s budget at KIPP Central City Academy in 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

There isn’t enough money to fix all the streets, nor enough police officers to patrol them, and certainly not enough to pay back what the city owes the firefighters’ pension fund, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a packed auditorium in Lakeview on Thursday evening.

But if the financial situation is so dire, the Lakeview residents shot back, then why is Landrieu suddenly engaging the city in the presumably expensive “self-initiated politics” of removing statues of Confederate leaders? Continue reading »

Jul 292015
 
The old Carrollton courthouse, photographed during an Audubon Charter School event in 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file)

The old Carrollton courthouse, photographed during an Audubon Charter School event in 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file)

After more than a dozen speakers took the microphone at a forum dedicated to saving the Carrollton Courthouse on Wednesday night, a common theme emerged from their comments: The best future for the landmark structure is some sort of public use.

Some described a new community center or an expanded library, perhaps to replace the nearby Nix branch. Others mentioned museums about the history of public education, of the city of Carrollton, or even New Orleans music. If not that, then flexible museum space, they said, where the city’s other museums could rotate exhibits. The large space could host city archives or recreation offices, they said, and its grounds would be perfect for park space with the crumbling old temporary buildings removed.

The question looming over the courthouse’s fate — and likely defining it — is who will actually own the building. And to that question, no answers emerged Wednesday night. Continue reading »

Jul 282015
 
Attendees of the Maple Street Dishcrawl in July 2014 sample the fare at Little Tokyo, a Japanese restaurant in a space occupied by a college bar just a few years ago. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Attendees of the Maple Street Dishcrawl in July 2014 sample the fare at Little Tokyo, a Japanese restaurant in a space occupied by a college bar just a few years ago. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Whether you call it a “crackdown” or a “cleanup,” there is no doubt that Maple Street has changed dramatically over the last five years amid intense scrutiny by New Orleans city officials.

Now, a debate over whether the City Council should continue to have oversight over whether new restaurants on Maple Street are allowed to sell alcohol has split the neighborhood association and local businesses, with residents on both sides.

Is the City Council’s traditional role as a gatekeeper for alcohol sales at restaurants a crucial element of the new peace on Maple Street, or does it give neighborhoods and their elected officials too much influence over which businesses can open? Continue reading »