Sep 192013
 

 Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared before city council Wednesday with a map of all the blighted properties in his neighborhood. (Photo by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com)

Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared before city council Wednesday with a map of all the blighted properties in his neighborhood. (Photo by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com)

The city claims to have reduced blight by 8,500 properties since 2010, but 37,000 remain, officials said during a committee meeting Wednesday, according to a report by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com.

During the meeting, Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared with a map blighted properties in his neighborhood, including the former Sara Mayo Hospital on Jackson Avenue, and beseeched the city to do better, according to Mid-City Messenger‘s report: “We want to continue to invest in the area and we think it’s moving in a good direction, but we need the city to step up and do your job. Quite frankly, we’re tired of hearing the same things,” Redding said.

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Sep 182013
 
The Jackson Avenue ferry landing. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The Jackson Avenue ferry landing could be yours for just a couple of million dollars. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Landmarks loom in high supply the Crescent City over as the landscape tends to change largely on a glacial pace.  Many distinctive structures over decades have transformed from their intended utilitarian to cozy home spaces, mostly commonly seen in the ever rarer still in commerce corner grocery turned primary residence for an owner occupant.  At auction tomorrow, if you’ve got the coin to spare, you may bid in what some may call a prime example of notable, public use spaces.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you for your consideration: the Jackson Avenue Ferry Landing. Continue reading »

Sep 162013
 

Owen Courreges

Since the 1920’s, the French Quarter has been represented by Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates, Inc., or VCPORA for short.  Given recent events, perhaps they should recast themselves as the “Vieux Carre’s Persnickety Oligarchs Representing Authoritarianism.”

Case in point: This weekend at Rising Tide 8, a local conference geared towards discussing New Orleans’ future, a panel was held on tourism in New Orleans.  During panel discussion, Meg Lousteau, Executive Director of VCPORA, noted approvingly that Bhutan has a limit on the number of tourists allowed into the country each year.

I wasn’t present, so I cannot attest to whether every jaw in the room hit the floor at that moment or not. The Kingdom of Bhutan, for those not aware, is an independent nation located in Asia.  In order to preserve their Buddhist cultural heritage, Bhutan requires tourists to acquire visas before entering the country, and limits the number of tourist visas offered per year. Continue reading »

Sep 122013
 

Competing sets of proposals for a new ordinance outlining how sound and noise issues should be enforced in New Orleans were discussed Thursday evening before a Carrollton neighborhood group, but the presentations from each group were so gently put that neighbors wondered where the actual controversy lies. Continue reading »

Sep 122013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In our opinion, C. Ray Nagin was the worst mayor of our lifetimes. It is entirely possible that Nagin was the worst mayor in New Orleans’ 295-year history, going all the way back to the French and Spanish chief executives whom Danae has been studying recently.

However, being a terrible mayor is not of itself a crime. Later this month, a jury will be convened in federal court to consider whether accepting some $200,000 in cash and gifts, along with several truckloads of free granite, is indeed a federal crime. The jurors will presumably hear Nagin’s Chief Administrative Officer Greg Meffert and big-time vendor Mark St. Pierre, both of whom are currently doing time in the federal pen. Continue reading »

Sep 122013
 

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (center) grasps hands with Andrea Samuels and Keion Reed on Sept. 1, the day after their 1-year-old baby was killed in Central City gunfire. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (center) grasps hands with Andrea Samuels and Keion Reed on Sept. 1, the day after their 1-year-old baby daughter was killed in Central City gunfire. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

In a city where the pace of new anti-crime programs is matched year-for-year with funerals for children slain by stray bullets, a large group of New Orleans city council members and state lawmakers are now discussing ways to determine whether any of the efforts underway are actually working.

The creation of “Save Our Sons,” “NOLA For Life” and the Multi-Agency Gang Unit each year have been hopscotched by the deaths of 2-year-old Jeremy Galmon in 2010, 23-month-old Keira Holmes in 2011, 5-year-old Briana Allen last year and, shockingly, the deaths of 1-year-old Londyn Samuels and 11-year-old Arabiana Gayles just days apart at the end of this summer, all struck down by cruelly careless gunfire.

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell had only been in elected office nine months when Samuels was killed in her district. Within days, she convened a summit of other City Council members, state lawmakers, judges and law-enforcement officials to discuss what more can be done on the violence issue. A common theme emerged, that more oversight is needed everywhere — of the New Orleans Police Department and its leadership, of the anti-crime programs in place, of the budgets for those entities and of the state law-enforcement agencies that also play crucial roles.

“Historically, the council has been really hands off on the police in general,” said state Sen. J.P. Morrell, one of the participants in Cantrell’s summit. “Both on the state and local level, we have to get more invested in the nuts and bolts of the different crime-fighting tools available to us.” Continue reading »

Sep 112013
 
Renderings of the riverfront National Slave Ship Museum presented at City Council on Tuesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Renderings of the riverfront National Slave Ship Museum presented at City Council on Tuesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lloyd Lazard, center, speaks to the City Council Economic Development committee. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lloyd Lazard, center, speaks to the City Council Economic Development committee. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Described as a dream decades in the making with a vision that spans millennia, a museum built around a full-size replica of a slave ship is being planned for a site in the Lower Garden District riverfront near the former Entergy substation. Continue reading »

Sep 112013
 
The house at 1016 North Roman in Treme had already been bid to 1 percent halfway through the first day of the three-day auction. (Photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The house at 1016 North Roman in Treme had already been bid to 1 percent halfway through the first day of the three-day auction. (Photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Whether you realize it or not, now - right now – and through Thursday evening at 8 PM, the almost annual Orleans Parish Tax Sale is taking place via CivicSource.com.  It’s a big deal for many reasons, but also it can be rather fascinating if you’re a fan of Crescent City dwellings as well as archaic governmental proceedings.  Here’s why: you bid down.

It’s the same dollar amount to all bidders, but you bid down percentage of ownership.  Therefore conceivably one willing to purchase 1% of any given property’s tax year(s) becomes the de facto winning bidder and cannot be outbid, however they are settling for the smallest possible amount of ownership.  Very New Orleans, right? Continue reading »

Sep 092013
 
The brick "bumpout" corners installed last year on Freret Street are all scheduled to be replaced this fall, officials said. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The brick “bumpout” corners installed last year on Freret Street are all scheduled to be replaced this fall, officials said. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The streetscape project that caused Freret Street businesses so much pain in 2012 will be repeated this fall as the city rebuilds each of those “bumpout” corners, but officials promise a quicker and smoother process this time around. Continue reading »

Sep 092013
 

Owen Courreges

On August 29, 2013, Londyn Samuels, a one year old child, was shot and murdered in Central City.

Her murder was not an aberration.  Three other children 5 years old or younger have been murdered in Central City during the past three years.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu calls it “a drumbeat of death that is taking the precious from us.”

Naturally, these tragedies have increased calls for the police to do something.  Times-Picayune columnist James Varney recently discussed using more aggressive policing tactics such as the controversial “stop-and-frisk” that has been notably employed in New York City, ultimately expressing “ambivalence” over whether it should, or even could, be successfully adopted here. Continue reading »

Sep 062013
 
(photo courtesy Jacques Morial)

(photo courtesy of Jacques Morial)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In a few weeks, civil rights advocates from across the nation will come to New Orleans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the city’s largest civil rights march that took place on September 30, 1963.

At the time, Allan was a first-year reporter at the States-Item, New Orleans’ afternoon paper. The editorial pages of The Times-Picayune and States-Item were adamantly opposed to the civil-rights movement then gaining steam throughout the South. The newspapers’ opposition to civil rights was based on the theory of “States Rights,” which held that the federal government had no right to impose an end to segregation on the sovereign states of the United States. Today, we all know how that has turned out in the last 50 years but, at that time, it was legal linchpin to the fight conducted in the courts by segregationist entities. Continue reading »

Sep 052013
 

City Councilwoman Susan Guidry speaks at a town hall meeting in Carrollton in February 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

City Councilwoman Susan Guidry speaks at a town hall meeting in Carrollton in February 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

District A is one of the more volatile seats on the New Orleans City Council — the last four elections have yielded four different winners — but the field of potential challengers to incumbent Councilwoman Susan Guidry is largely quiet as she completes her first term.

An internal poll from earlier in the summer may partly explain why. Two-thirds of likely voters in the district said they have a favorable opinion of her, a tall barrier for any potential challenger to overcome. Continue reading »

Sep 042013
 
Power lines emerge from a thicket of branches as an Entergy worker repairs the broken power line. (Photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Power lines emerge from a thicket of branches as an Entergy worker repairs the broken power line. (Photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

New Orleans: if you live here, you’re married to it.  Along with the betrothed come all the perks of city government with assorted departments therein, and Parks & Parkways, I’m looking at you.  This is me, index and middle fingers extended, pointing horizontally into my eyes and singularly redirecting index finger in your general direction, P & P Music Factory.  I.  Am watching.  You.  You have 32 weeks to trim the tree across the street from me.  Do it before and I’ll give you a gold star and curse less over the amount of property tax I pay annually.  Do it a day later than yesterday, I will channel the spirit of Pulp Fiction‘s Sam Jackson’s Jules before he had his religious awakening, and I will figuratively eat your Big Kahuna burger.  Why?  Because of the time frame you conjured, a turnaround time of supposedly and approximately 7 1/2 months before an issue gains resolution.  Only I won’t be saying “This is a tasty burger!” Continue reading »

Sep 032013
 

In one of the first major events to bring all the candidates for the Oct. 19 special judicial elections on a single stage, the eight candidates for traffic court and two of the three candidates for magistrate court met Wednesday night to answer questions posed by the Alliance for Good Government. Continue reading »

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Sep 032013
 

The vacant fire station at 4877 Laurel Street. (photo via the Preservation Resource Center, prcno.org)

The vacant fire station at 4877 Laurel Street. (photo via the Preservation Resource Center, prcno.org)

After John and Sylvi Beaumont, the new owners of the fire station on Laurel Street, presented a plan last week for a coffeeshop there with two apartments upstairs and a third in the old backyard stable, neighbors around Wisner Park were split between concerns from some about trash and parking versus enthusiasm by others over the old building’s new life, reports Stephanie Bruno for The Advocate.

Sep 022013
 

Owen Courreges

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

This past week, a video was released of an encounter between former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and provocateur James O’Keefe from this past July.  The encounter took place on the sidewalk in front of Tulane Law School (my alma mater) where Letten is now an assistant dean.

“You went to my home, you terrorized my wife, you’re violating federal law, you’re violating state law, you’re trespassing, you’re a nasty cowardly little spud,” Letten shouted.  He also called O’Keefe a “hobbit” for some reason. Continue reading »

Aug 302013
 
Parents of Londyn Samuels Keion Reed and Andrea Samuels hold each other at the vigil. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Parents of Londyn Samuels Keion Reed and Andrea Samuels hold each other at the vigil.
(Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The day after a 1-year-old was shot to death in her babysitter’s arms on Saratoga Street sent a cascade of strong emotions coursing through Central City.

At dawn, neighbors awoke to an armed standoff at a Central City home involved in the investigation. The day progressed with an intense burst of grief from the child’s parents and their supporters at Cafe Reconcile, followed by an angry denunciation from city leaders for the lack of information in the case, and ended at dusk with a vigil mourning the slain child.

“She was my world,” said her father, 20-year-old Keion Reed, in a brief public address Friday afternoon. “She was my everything. She was my reason for getting up in the morning.” Continue reading »

Aug 302013
 

“Though road construction and rush-hour bottlenecks continue on Carrollton Avenue less than a month before Costco plans to open its doors, the city says the streets will be ready for the wholesale retailer’s grand opening,” reports Marta Jewson of MidCityMessenger.com. The opening date is Sept. 21, less than a month away.

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Aug 282013
 

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

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

The new Second District police station — meant to replace the crumbling century-old building on Magazine Street — will be in Gert Town, likely in combination with a new Gert Town pool and possibly other facilities, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other officials said Wednesday evening.

“I think it will be a big shot in the arm for Gert Town,” said Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant. Continue reading »