Feb 232013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Back in the early days of his mayoral tenure, before things began to fall apart, Clarence Ray Nagin was a rock star. He didn’t know much about city government but he was cool, glib and very optimistic.

Did the city need an infusion of money? He’d sell the airport. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Feb 222013

Craig Giesecke

If you’ve ever built a house or otherwise been involved in construction or extensive remodeling of a building, you know any contractor’s standard answer is “two weeks.” You also know only too well how, particularly in this city, the wheels of the public utilities and their regulatory minions in city government grind v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y –- unless, of course, you’re late paying a bill. Continue reading »

Feb 192013

As the owners of Jimmy’s Music Club continue to seek the reopening of their landmark Willow Street venue, they are employing an unusual legal strategy to get around the temporary ban on new alcohol licenses in the Carrollton area.

Instead of asking the City Council to grant them an exception to the moratorium, they are asking the city’s alcohol commissioners to rule that the latest iteration of that moratorium is illegal altogether and thus inapplicable to Jimmy’s. Continue reading »

Feb 182013

The “Gabrielle in Purgatory” dinner in February 2011 at the controversial Uptowner location on Henry Clay Avenue. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

The latest Uptown establishments to fall under the scrutiny of the New Orleans Alcohol Beverage Control board are Grits bar on Annunciation Street and the Uptowner banquet hall on Henry Clay Avenue, and the effort to bring back Jimmy’s Music Club may also be heard by the panel Tuesday afternoon as well. Continue reading »

Feb 182013

Owen Courreges

Mayor Landrieu has a terrible case of buyer’s remorse.

Last July, Mayor Landrieu was on hand to announce a consent decree between the U.S. Justice Department and the City of New Orleans in a lawsuit that alleged widespread abuses of basic civil rights by the New Orleans Police Department.  “Now, after more than two years of work, the consent decree is done,” Mayor Landrieu remarked at the time.

Well, perhaps not quite done.  Apparently, Mayor Landrieu didn’t consider the fact a consent decree might be reached with respect to the city’s other constitutional abomination, Orleans Parish Prison.  That’s exactly what happened.   Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni argues that “both the prison and NOPD consent decrees cannot be paid for at this time without raising taxes or laying off or furloughing employees.” Continue reading »

Feb 072013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Danae’s Mardi Gras is not complete without the annual trek to Gallier Hall for the Mayor’s Ball. Lucky for us, Gallier Hall is only four blocks from our office, so Danae walks over.

Last night’s event — as usual — was an outstanding gathering, a great place to people watch and do business. His Honor of course was present along with most of his senior staff and the majority of the City Council — LaToya, Cynthia, Jackie, Kristin and Susan — and their husbands. Danae overheard Mayor Landrieu speaking to a national journalist about the willingness of investors to bring their money to New Orleans, since the Mayor never misses an opportunity to promote the city. Honorary Dutch Consul Connie Willems, new president of the Consular Corp, was talking about how foreign governments are placing more emphasis on trade in this region. Continue reading »

 Comments Off  Tagged with:
Feb 062013

A vacant lot on the corner of Amelia and Baronne where neighbors say unruly teenagers congregate during Mardi Gras parades. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A two-block stretch of Amelia Street that neighbors say has become an out-of-control gathering place for unruly teenagers during Mardi Gras will receive increased attention this week from both police and city officials who promise to end the problem.

The problem is different from the typical Carnival-time revelry that lines the Uptown route, neighbors and officials say. Instead, a vacant lot at the corner of Baronne Street — memorable to passers-by for a lone set of stone stairs in the center of it — has become a gathering point for teens, and they form a dense throng for two blocks between there and the parade on St. Charles Avenue. Continue reading »

Feb 042013

Owen Courreges

New Orleans is the city of the pit bull.  Last year Gambit reported that New Orleans has one of the highest rates of pit bull ownership per capita in the country.  It is home to the Sula Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at “fostering responsible pit bull ownership” which raises money by selling yearly calendars of the “Pit Bulls of New Orleans.”  It is home to “Ban Ignorance, Not Pit Bulls,” a group established to “advocate for pit bull rights and educate the general public in a positive way that will help lessen the ignorance concerning pit bulls.”

For you TV junkies out there, the evidence is even more apparent.  The Animal Planet reality series “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” which pairs ex-cons with pit bulls, aired its 2012 season in New Orleans after relocating its rescue and adoption facility to the Lower 9th Ward from Los Angeles.  The show cited onerous regulations as the primary driver of the move. Continue reading »

Feb 032013

Officials stand near pieces of the Imagination Playground being donated to the city on Saturday. (submitted photo)

The “Super Saturday of Service” brought two citywide celebrations of volunteerism to the Lyons Center park in the Irish Channel, as the city received the donation of an “Imagination Playground” that includes large blue foam blocks for children to play with, and volunteers celebrated the replanting of the 20,000th tree since Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Feb 032013

The Superdome can be seen through a hole in the roof of the former Myrtle Banks school on O.C. Haley Boulevard, which is slated for redevelopment. (Photo by Steve Beatty used with permission from The Lens.)

While the Superdome and the so-called “Clean Zone” around it have been the focus of numerous improvements leading up to the Super Bowl, some of the city’s most severe blight remains literally right next door in Central City, as shown in a photo essay by the editors of The Lens.

 Comments Off
Jan 312013

Map of the sections of Broadway and Leonidas set to be repaved starting in the next few weeks — not to scale. (Map via pavinglaroads.com)

Rick Hathaway and Alex Wommack listen to residents’ concerns about the upcoming repaving of Broadway and Leonidas streets. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A $5.6 million project to repave two miles of Broadway Street through the university area and half-mile segment of Leonidas in Hollygrove will start in the next few weeks, but residents who attended an informational session about the project Thursday night were skeptical that the new surfaces will last long as old pipes continue to crumble underneath. Continue reading »

Jan 302013

The vacant lot at 2101 Prytania (image via Google maps).

Firefighters battle the flames consuming the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Prytania Street in January 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

A vacant lot on Prytania Street in the Lower Garden District where a century-old church burned down two years ago could become a small development of eight homes, based on plans discussed Tuesday afternoon by the city’s architectural review team. Continue reading »

Jan 282013

Freret resident Andy Brott, hydrologist W. Scott Lincoln and meteorologist Tim Erickson inspect a rain gauge on top of Brott’s house in mid January. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

For many New Orleanians, Hurricane Isaac will be remembered for the long week without power and the maddening uncertainty as to when it would return.

But for a group of National Weather Service researchers, Isaac has proven interesting for what did not happen — street flooding — despite their discovery of what appears to have been a band of abnormally heavy rainfall right across Uptown New Orleans.

“Our biggest question is, ‘Where did the water go?’” said emergency-response meteorologist Tim Erickson during a recent trip to Freret Street to investigate. Continue reading »

Jan 282013

(Cartoon by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

The food truck debate in New Orleans is stirring once again.  City Councilwoman Stacy Head has floated legislation to loosen regulations of food trucks, which at present are largely unchanged from the 1950’s. These existing regulations make food truck operations a nearly impossible proposition, with draconian restrictions on permits, operating times and locations. Continue reading »

Jan 262013

A rendering of the Tulane Stadium released in September. (UptownMessenger.com file image)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu released the details of the agreement his office has reached with Tulane governing the use of the university’s proposed stadium on Friday, drawing swift reaction from neighborhood groups that it is still too lenient. Continue reading »