Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 292014
 
New Sixth District Commander Ronnie Stevens (right) speaks to Central City resident Lisa Martin at a reception on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Newly-appointed Sixth District Commander Ronnie Stevens (right) speaks to Central City resident Lisa Martin at a reception at Ashe Cultural Arts Center on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

When New Orleans Police Commander Bob Bardy was promoted to deputy superintendent earlier this month, he left behind an eight-year stint in the Sixth District where most people knew his name and many knew his personal phone number.

When residents had problems — even problems like being charged in shootings — they knew they could call Bardy and receive a fair hearing, they said. Now that Commander Ronnie Stevens has been named to take the lead in the Sixth District, Central City residents in particular are hoping that strong relationship continues.

“We have a strong partnership with the Sixth District police,” said Barbara Lacen-Keller, a Central City activist who now works in City Hall. “We are family.” Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Aug 292014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our TV cameras and computer hard drives to get out of Dodge before Katrina struck. Danae finally took Ray Nagin’s pleas seriously about 4 a.m. and began the long, slow journey to her parents in Arkansas with five dogs and our photographer. Allan, his sister Sandy Levy and their aged Mother, Miriam Katz, left several days earlier for Birmingham in an abundance of caution. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Aug 262014
 
Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the residents of City Council District B how the city should spend their tax money Tuesday night, the answers nearly all involved streets: the holes in them, the lack of light on them, and the people who sleep on them.

Most of those problems — like all of those before the 300-year-old city — lack easy answers, and have been compounding for decades, Landrieu replied. But on at least one complaint, there is a glimmer of hope: the long-darkened streetlights along St. Charles Avenue are scheduled for repair in September. Continue reading »

Aug 262014
 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell delivers her "State of District B" address Tuesday night (2013) at City Hall. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell delivers her “State of District B” address at City Hall in April 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell will host a public meeting on the coming year’s budget tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 26) at Touro Synagogue, and residents of Council District B are encouraged to come and share their thoughts on how the city’s tax revenue should be allocated. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Aug 222014
 
NOPD Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy and Barbara Lacen-Keller speak on a Central City sidewalk Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy and Barbara Lacen-Keller speak on a Central City sidewalk Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy — the longest-serving district commander in the New Orleans Police Department — was promoted Friday morning to Deputy Chief for Operations in the new administration of Superintendent Michael Harrison. Continue reading »

Aug 212014
 
Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett, reviews his paperwork with attorney Jennifer Medley. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s always fun to hang around Criminal Court when candidates are qualifying for office, and yesterday was no exception. Although qualifying did not begin until 8 a.m., embattled judge Yolanda King entered the building at 7:15 to ensure first place in line.

Even though King arrived extra early, it took her three tries to get her domicile listed correctly on the sworn affidavit. Domicile is the ongoing problem that might yet land King in jail or at least unable to serve another term. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Aug 202014
 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell speaks to the Coliseum Square Association at Felicity Church on Monday, Aug. 18. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell speaks to the Coliseum Square Association at Felicity Church on Monday, Aug. 18. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

After residents complained that an initial sweep of a homeless encampment under the Pontchartrain Expressway simply moved the collection of tents and panhandlers from one side of St. Charles to the other, New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell is requesting city officials to return and clean out the area closer to the river as well.

Cantrell is also introducing a change to the city law that more specifically prohibits camping on public property, but said she is still looking to residents for answers to the larger question of how to get homeless people off the streets instead of moving them from one spot to another. Continue reading »

Aug 192014
 
A conceptual drawing of the proposed riverfront expansion of the Convention Center, including a new hotel. (via mccno.com)

A conceptual drawing of the proposed riverfront expansion of the Convention Center, including a new hotel. (via mccno.com)

As plans progress on a nearly $1 billion expansion into the Lower Garden District, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is proposing a realignment of several streets to improve traffic flow through downtown, a new centralized hub for buses and taxis under the Pontchartrain Expressway, moving sidewalks to get conventioneers around the nearly mile-long facility, and possibly even an expansion of the riverfront streetcar to connect the upriver end of the project with the French Market, officials told neighbors Monday night. Continue reading »

Aug 182014
 

Sweeps by New Orleans city officials of a homeless encampment under the Pontchartrain Expressway ultimately moved the collection of tents and people closer to the river on the other side of St. Charles Avenue, according to a report by our partners at WWL-TV. City officials called the first camp a health hazard and said they were helping the people there get into shelters, but residents say the problem merely moved: “Clearly, if the garbage and human waste is a ‘public health concern’ on one side of St. Charles, it has to be considered a ‘public health concern’ on the other side of St. Charles,” nearby resident Jeff Keiser told The Advocate. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Aug 182014
 

Owen Courreges

“Get the f*** on the sidewalk.”

Those are the words that allegedly started the entire thing: the struggle, the shooting, the outrage and the riots.

Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department was quoted as uttering these words by Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Michael Brown in the street.  Brown was ultimately shot and killed by Officer Wilson, sparking a national firestorm. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

A request to tear down a vacant, century-old house just off Magazine Street on General Pershing that drew outcry from neighbors was postponed Thursday for at least a week by the New Orleans City Council. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 
Demolition workers push over a wall of the former Frank's Steakhouse on Freret Street on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Demolition workers push over a wall of the former Frank’s Steakhouse on Freret Street on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Frank’s Steakhouse — the landmark restaurant that reigned over Freret Street for decades — was unceremoniously knocked to the ground on Wednesday in a dramatic illustration of the changing times in New Orleans.

The Frank’s complex in the 4500 block of Freret was the last major undeveloped property on the corridor since a wave of new business openings began around five years ago. On July 2, Arnold Kirschman finalized his purchase of the buildings from the Barreca family who had owned them for the better part of a century, as part of a plan to demolish the steakhouse in the center of the block to rebuild a stretch of buildings matching the old cleaners on the corner of Cadiz. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Aug 132014
 
The former fountain store at 7901 St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former fountain store at 7901 St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

An architect's sketch by Albert Architecture of a condo building proposed for the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Fern Street. (via nola.gov)

An architect’s sketch of a condo building proposed for the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Fern Street. (via nola.gov)

A shuttered St. Charles Avenue fountain store that began life as a gas station decades ago should not be torn down to make room for a new condominium building, a group of city officials recommended on Tuesday. Continue reading »

Aug 122014
 
The former day care at 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard has been bought by New Orleans chef Adolfo Garcia and his partners. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former day care at 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard has been bought by New Orleans chef Adolfo Garcia and his partners. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Adolfo Garcia speaks Monday before the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments. (via nola.gov)

Adolfo Garcia speaks Monday before the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments. (via nola.gov)

Celebrated New Orleans restaurateur Adolfo Garcia — whose High Hat Cafe and Ancora Pizzeria helped jumpstart the commercial revitalization of Freret Street — has bought a building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard for his next venture.

Demonstrating the degree to which the redevelopment of O.C. Haley Boulevard has taken off, city officials on Monday compared the Central City corridor to busy Magazine Street as they discussed the need for parking they expect in the very near future. Continue reading »

Aug 112014
 
(Cartoon by Owen Courreges)

(Cartoon by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

A ban on smoking in bars and casinos in the City of New Orleans is beginning to appear increasingly inevitable.  Although a concerted campaign to enact a statewide ban has failed repeatedly in past years, the insidious anti-smoking forces are now focusing on smaller-scale efforts.

In New Orleans, these forces have found a political surrogate in District B City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, who plans to introduce a smoking ban this fall.

“This is not an attack, this is about healthier environments for all people: those who work in these environments, musicians, employees,” Cantrell said recently. ”But the majority of the people now within our city and even state, close to 80 percent are non-smokers.”

Cantrell attempts an artful dodge, but the truth is that this is an attack — an attack on a market choice. Continue reading »

Aug 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While it’s very early in the competition to see who the Presidential nominees will be in 2016, we’ve been impressed by the energy and drive of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.

Senator Paul recently accepted an invitation to speak to an Urban League convention in Florida. Unfortunately, most of the delegates to the convention thought that inviting an arch-conservative like Senator Paul was a mistake and stayed away from the session where he spoke. Continue reading »

 Comments Off