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 »

Aug 282013
 
Signs on Freret Street at Marengo show that traffic is one-way in the downtown direction as road repaving begins. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Signs on Freret Street at Marengo show that traffic is one-way in the downtown direction as road repaving begins. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

With the repaving of Broadway and Leonidas streets now at “substantial completion,” the section of Freret Street in the Milan neighborhood from Louisiana to Napoleon has become one-way as the repaving project begins there, officials said. Continue reading »

Aug 272013
 

A plastic go-cup from Domenica restaurant. (UptownMessenger.com)

A plastic go-cup from Domenica restaurant. (UptownMessenger.com)

Pizza Domenica, the proposed expansion of Chef John Besh’s popular downtown pizza restaurant onto Magazine Street Uptown, will head to the City Council without a recommendation from the City Planning Commission, after a split vote by commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

Any observer might be forgiven for assuming that Pizza Domenica’s plans were scuttled by their request to allow patrons to take their drinks out the door in a plastic cup to-go. After all, go cups dominated Tuesday’s discussion of the restaurant, just as they have the New Orleans media scene in the two weeks since go-cup rights activists began warning of a looming “go-cup battle” out of City Council.

But the commissioners who voted against Pizza Domenica on Tuesday said afterward that, surprising as it sounds, the go-cup issue was not even a factor in their decision. Continue reading »

Aug 272013
 
A spray-painted welcome to President Bush on St. Claude Avenue on Aug. 29, 2006. (photo by jewel bush)

A spray-painted welcome to President Bush on St. Claude Avenue on Aug. 29, 2006. (photo by jewel bush)

jewel bush

When President George W. Bush’s motorcade drove down St. Claude Avenue on August 29, 2006 — the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — there were many signs, like sentries, stationed along his route to Fats Domino’s house in the Ninth Ward, one stop on his itinerary of ceremonial rounds.

The messages, posted on signs lined along the neutral ground and on the actual storm-clobbered buildings, weren’t flattering greetings from the city’s welcome committee. The collective reverberation to the commander in chief’s obligatory pilgrimage to the place he neglected a year earlier was that of a shimmering rage, pithy and piercing in delivery.

One of the strongest indicators of this sentiment was a lop-sided, green Port-a-Potty positioned on the very edge of the neutral ground somewhere along St. Claude, a strategic locale sure to catch the eye of, if not, the president himself, someone in his party. Among protest notes scribbled in gold spray paint on all four sides of this freestanding structure, the standout read: “Reserved for Bush.”

Mr. President, welcome to New Orleans. Continue reading »

Aug 272013
 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu fields questions during a 2012 community meeting about the city budget. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via WWL-TV)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu fields questions during a 2012 community meeting about the city budget. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via WWL-TV)

Joined by City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, Mayor Mitch Landrieu will host his final meeting on the coming year’s budget priorities for residents of District B at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening at KIPP Central City Academy (2514 Third Street). Continue reading »

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Aug 262013
 

The remaining trees along Jefferson Avenue between South Claiborne and Danneel will be removed starting this week. (UptownMessenger.com file photo from April 2013)

The remaining trees along Jefferson Avenue between South Claiborne and Danneel will be removed starting this week. (UptownMessenger.com file photo from April 2013)

The trees remaining in the Jefferson Avenue neutral ground between South Claiborne Avenue and Danneel Street will be removed starting today (Monday, Aug. 26) in preparation for the installation of a major new underground drainage canal, authorities said. Continue reading »

Aug 262013
 

Owen Courreges

The official motto of the Landrieu Administration’s blight eradication efforts should probably be:  “We can’t do much, but we’ll do more of it!”

Case in point: A week ago, I read an Action Report from Bill Capo at WWL about a house in Central City that is nearly collapsing onto another.  An entire wall has become detached.  A couple of two-by-fours mounted between the homes is all that is preventing it from completely falling over. Continue reading »

Aug 232013
 
D'Artanian Stovall's house on Upperline Street, where he is stripping and repainting one section at a time to avoid the ire of city inspectors. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

D’Artanian Stovall’s house on Upperline Street, where he is stripping and repainting one section at a time to avoid the ire of city inspectors. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Residents of the Freret neighborhood are banding together to help out two longtime homeowners, supporting one man in the struggle to keep the city from selling his home at sheriff’s auction and raising money with a fundraiser tonight to help repair another woman’s damaged roof. Continue reading »

Aug 222013
 
John Besh greets a neighbor of the his new Pizza Domenica restaurant proposed for 4933 Magazine Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

John Besh greets a neighbor of the his new Pizza Domenica restaurant proposed for 4933 Magazine Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Pizza Domenica is intended as a more casual, smaller-scale spinoff of the acclaimed Domenica restaurant downtown. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Pizza Domenica is intended as a more casual, smaller-scale spinoff of the acclaimed Domenica restaurant downtown. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Neighbors of celebrated New Orleans restaurateur John Besh’s proposed foray into Uptown got a literal taste of what’s to come Thursday night at an open house for the Pizza Domenica on Magazine Street. Continue reading »

Aug 222013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Several weeks ago, we wrote a column listing a number of reasons why Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to move City Hall to the iconic but empty Charity Hospital was an excellent idea.

In the course of our interview with him, Pres Kabacoff said he hoped that the Civil District Court judges would reconsider their plans to build a new Civil District Court building in Duncan Plaza – adjacent to the current City Hall on Loyola Avenue – and instead decide to join Mayor Landrieu’s administration and the City Council in the move to Charity.

That all seemed reasonable enough to us, but then we received a visit from Civil District Court Judges Michael Bagneris and Kern Reese who told us the court is dead set on building their own structure and won’t be swayed by the mayor to move to Charity. Continue reading »