Jun 132013

Pastor Andre Massenburg, leader of the City of Refuge Ministry in Chicago and father of slain AmeriCorps volunteer Joseph Massenburg, speaks at the Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church on Wednesday evening. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Andreas Hoffman of Green Light New Orleans presents the parents of Joseph Massenburg with a plaque to mount on an oak tree planted in their son’s honor. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

With prayers for comfort, songs about shelter and scripture about sacrifice, the people of New Orleans offered their heartfelt apologies Wednesday evening to a pair of grieving parents for the loss of their son’s life on our streets.

The young man’s father, a church leader from Chicago, needed no apology, however. Instead, using an adopted pulpit in the far end of west Carrollton, he returned their condolences with a thundering message of resilience and defiance. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Jun 132013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s no secret that Sheriff Marlin Gusman is embattled. Escapes, deaths, and many normal prison problems have plagued his term. Gusman has even admitted that the pricy new jail does not have the special facilities needed to best treat sick and mentally-ill patients in this phase. Let’s not forget that Orleans Parish sheriffs have traditionally kept their finances close to the vest and not readily available for full scrutiny by mayor and council. There’s not much transparency at the prison these days.

Black voters could make Gusman’s reelection a cause and turn out in record numbers to keep their sheriff. Standing in the wings might be one of two strong women who could set the sheriff’s office straight: Dana Kaplan or Stacy Head. There has never been a female sheriff in New Orleans or even a credible female candidate for sheriff. Continue reading »

Jun 122013

The former New Orleans Free School on Camp Street, photographed in October.

While neighbors of the former New Orleans Free School on Camp Street say they look forward to its redevelopment, they are concerned that 25 apartments there will be too many, they told city officials on Tuesday. Continue reading »

Jun 112013

The former Louisiana Seafood at 2900 LaSalle. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A new restaurant by the owner of Cowbell slated for a busy Central City commercial corridor won a favorable recommendation from city planners on Tuesday afternoon, as did commercial rezoning for a pair of buildings on a central stretch of Magazine Street. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Jun 102013

Owen Courreges

As of this weekend, New Orleans is awash in twenty-something girls wearing hot pink t-shirts.  They’re advocating for Planned Parenthood, which is facing significant push-back from its latest opus – a proposed 7,000 square foot clinic on South Claiborne Avenue.

Planned Parenthood is absolutely hell-bent on seeing this clinic completed. A ceremony was held late last month to kick off the 4.2 million dollar construction project, the completion of which is slated for late 2014 or early 2015. Supporters opined that the clinic will be built “no matter what” because “women in Louisiana desperately need Planned Parenthood.”

The show of solidarity has engendered a strong reaction from pro-life advocates, which, though a rare breed in New Orleans proper, are a dime a dozen throughout the rest of Louisiana.  Planned Parenthood has made no bones about the fact that it will, in fact, be performing abortions at the Claiborne clinic, a first for Planned Parenthood in Louisiana.  Abortion, you may have heard, is a sore subject in this country. Continue reading »

Jun 102013

The nonprofit Family Center of Hope — which since 2007 has been building a $2.7 million community center at Washington and Broad where contractor disputes are blamed for no construction in more than a year — has received $40,000 from the city’s NOLA for Life fund for a separate mentoring program for Juvenile Court referrals, according to a report by Charles Maldonado of The Lens.

Jun 062013

Newsflash: “Neighbors and nightclub clash over live music.” It sounds like a headline from any given day’s report from the City Council chambers, but it’s actually a story that’s nearly as old as New Orleans.

Whether New Orleans properly takes care of its musicians and other artists is another never-ending saga — but one that may finally be showing some improvement, according a panel discussion held at Tulane University on Thursday evening. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

New Orleans Firefighter Ross Lunz cuts a pair of shoes off the power lines above Evans Park on Thursday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The year-round Mardi Gras beads that decorate the New Orleans skyline are probably still safe, but the tennis shoes that hang cryptically from neighborhood power lines have a new nemesis — NOPD Sgt. Byron Francois, the quality-of-life officer who removed dozens of the odd decorations Thursday afternoon from around the Uptown-based Second District with the help of the New Orleans Fire Department. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

There is no question that reforms are needed at the Orleans Parish Prison and the New Orleans Police Department. The voters know it, the Federal government knows it, the City Council knows it and even Mayor Landrieu. But where is the money to fund both decrees (ostensibly at the same time) going to come from?

We need a compromise with the Federal government and we need it now. The cost of the consent decrees is far beyond the city’s means and might mean bankruptcy. Is that the goal? Let’s hope not. Perhaps the city could agree to a consent decree governing Parish Prison now. After OPP has been straightened out, perhaps there could be another consent decree governing the NOPD. Continue reading »

Jun 032013

Mayor Mitch Landrieu joins hands with several children to jump into the pool at the Lyons Center after a grand re-opening ceremony Monday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Irish Channel Neighborhood Association president Kara Morgan gestures to indicate the wide range of communities that use the Lyons Center at its re-opening celebration Monday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the crowds of city and neighborhood officials with him had a nearly perfect soundtrack of every step of their way through the newly reopened Lyons Center in the Irish Channel on Monday morning.

In the lobby, it was the tinkling of an electric piano as ballet dancers rehearsed in a studio behind the news conference podium. In the gym, it was a group of musicians performing the Harlem Globetrotters theme “Sweet Georgia Brown” as Landrieu shot a few baskets. They kept up the music out by the pool, but were hard to hear over the squeals and splashing as the mayor gently dunked some of his youngest constituents.

Even the background chatter was on message, as the kindergarten-aged “Bears” group of day campers lined up in a hallway and gawked at the TV cameras passing by.

“You’re going to be on the news!” instructor Valencia Delair whispered, a stern smile on her face as she kept the 5-year-olds corralled. “You are super-stars. You are going to be on the news — for all the right reasons!” Continue reading »

May 312013

Map of areas that New Orleans Fire Department ladder trucks can reach within eight minutes presented at Thursday’s meeting.

Removal of a ladder truck from the fire station on Arabella Street will reduce the safety of the surrounding Uptown neighborhood and represents a dangerous trend of reducing the size of the New Orleans Fire Department, the president of the firefighters’ union said Thursday night in the latest round of debate over the issue.

City officials countered that the entire neighborhood will still be protected by the most important firefighting equipment — a pumper truck — and that the redeployment set to go into effect later this summer represents the best use of the city’s resources. But residents remained unconvinced, and are continuing their effort to keep the ladder truck in service.
Continue reading »

 Comments Off
May 272013

The old signs for the Frat House at 8200 Willow Street have been replaced by a banner for Jimmy’s Music Club. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

When the New Orleans Alcoholic Beverage Control Board rejected a request by Jimmy’s Music Club last week, it may have seemed like the hand of The Man slapping down the former punk rock haven once again.

The reality, however, is that attorneys, city officials and even the club’s neighbors agree that Jimmy’s may be closer to reopening than it has in the last year. Continue reading »

May 232013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For more than 75 years, the Times Picayune has always won the official journal contract from the City of New Orleans. The official journal is where all mandated public notices are printed, tax seizures, bids, City Council summaries, etc. It is and has always been a great source of revenue that the TP has counted on.

For the first time there is a real chance that John Georges or even Margo and Clancy Dubos could take that contract from the TP. The contract is bid each year and of course the best bid wins. Councilmembers could always expect to hear from TP officials like former TP publisher Ashton Phelps or Editor Jim Amoss around that time. Though never spoken, we’re sure that many councilmembers dared not to vote against the TP for fear of retaliation in the next edition. Continue reading »

May 222013

The area of Central City served by the Ceasefire anti-violence project has actually seen an increase in homicides and shootings in the program’s first year of operation, reports Ramon Antonio Vargas of the Times-Picayune. City officials and program organizers say their efforts to intervene in personal conflicts and resolve them before they become deadly, then help participants find new opportunities have yielded some results, however, and that long-term change will take more time, Vargas reports.

 Comments Off
May 222013

Jean-Paul Villere

The little-prison-that-could didn’t this last week when it failed to garner any bids during the City of New Orleans Surplus Property Auction.  That’s right, the Treme jailhouse at 2552 St Philip that raised eyebrows upon entry failed to rock, open wallets, or lift paddles.  Among the properties that did see successful play were two: each a corner brick two-story from different eras and areas. Continue reading »

May 212013

Paula and the Pontiacs perform at a benefit to help reopen Jimmy’s Music Club on April 4, 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Just when New Orleans officials and the owners of Jimmy’s Music Club were beginning to find some common ground, the city’s independent alcohol board on Tuesday afternoon surprised both of them by rejecting Jimmy’s appeal, essentially offering the club two routes: City Council or the courts. Continue reading »