Aug 152013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Although Wednesday’s announcement by the New Orleans Community Data Center showed several great signs in the New Orleans economy, it also pointed several great disparities that do not bode well for New Orleans’ future.

Yes, our economy is diversifying beyond tourism, we weathered the recession better than most cities, home sales have increased, our number of new entrepreneurs is high, and construction jobs are on the rise since Katrina (no kidding). All great stuff to be sure. Continue reading »

Aug 142013

Jean-Paul Villere

Dave Thomas brought us the drive thru.  The late founder of the fast food chain Wendy’s — beyond being the charismatic face of the company up until his death — in the fledgling days of the square-pattied empire devised a way for car-loving Americans across the country to stay put and nosh ever more quickly. (In-N-Out and Jack in the Box might stake earlier claims to the innovation, but find me one of those in the only metro area that matters.) It revolutionized commerce.  I can tell you from my days in a green apron, drive thru locations easily produce two to three times the revenue of locations without this 20th century gift.  As such, it employs more people and creates a better tax base too.  All good things, right?  Except when it comes to pollution and traffic congestion, those tick up as well.  Faster, reliable and more often: the American way, no?  Viagara, anyone? Continue reading »

Aug 122013

Crowds gather in front of The Company Burger on Freret St. as owner Adam Biderman hands out hamburgers for free Thursday, Sept. 3, 2012, while most of Uptown waits for power to come back. ( file photo by Sabree Hill)

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents during a crowded neighborhood meeting about a security-district proposal at Samuel J. Green Charter School. ( file photo by Robert Morris)

When more than 100 Freret residents gathered in the Samuel J. Green Charter School cafeteria in March to discuss a proposal to use a property-tax fee to hire private security guards for the neighborhood, the meeting had every appearance of a textbook example of gentrification and its painful fallout. Two white people sat at a table marked “FOR,” two African-Americans sat at a table marked “AGAINST,” and a room full of other black residents argued bitterly against what they saw as the secrecy of the proposal, about their sense of disenfranchisement amid an influx of “new residents,” and about the rising costs of merely remaining in their homes.

Given the explosion of commercial growth on Freret Street — from only a single restaurant four years ago to 14 blocks of highly-lauded cuisine, new entertainment venues and businesses ranging from a dog-groomer to a craft-cocktail lounge — concerns about gentrification should be expected. But after that heated meeting in March, the proponents and opponents literally walked away from the school building together down the sidewalk, relying on relationships and respect forged over decades to find a middle ground — suggesting that, perhaps, something is different about what’s happening on Freret. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

Jimmy Anselmo thanks the City Council for approving his request to reopen Jimmy’s Music Club on Willow Street. (Robert Morris,

After nearly a year of struggle and discord, Jimmy’s Music Club received permission Thursday afternoon from the New Orleans City Council to reopen in a flurry of smiles, applause, blown kisses — and a long list of operating conditions. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

Members of the City Council and the New Orleans Police Department present the family of Officer Rodney Thomas (wearing blue shirts) with a resolution honoring his sacrifice for the city. (Robert Morris,

With a resolution in his honor and words of encouragement for his family, the New Orleans City Council pledged Thursday morning to ensure the sacrifice of Officer Rodney Thomas has a permanent place in the city’s memory. Continue reading »

Aug 052013

Owen Courreges

The NOPD was dealt yet another black eye earlier this year when an investigation from the Inspector General’s Office revealed that off-duty officers were lining their pockets reviewing red-light camera tickets.  Former 8th District Commander Edwin Hosli created a private company, Anytime Solutions, to manage the detail, where off-duty officers were paid $35 per hour to review camera evidence provided by another private company, American Traffic Solutions.

Hosli, a close friend of Chief Ronal Serpas, also made sure to provide the obligatory patronage that feeds on New Orleans like a malignant tumor.  Anytime Solutions paid Serpas’s driver and his son-in-law, Travis Ward, who himself was previously suspended from duty after failing multiple breathalyzer tests when he totaled his NOPD cruiser back in 2009 (not exactly the type of person you want nit-picking other peoples’ driving habits). Continue reading »

Aug 012013

A rendering of a proposed floodplain park around the Monticello Canal in Hollygrove, similar to those proposed for other canals around the city in a new water-management strategy for New Orleans.

Rainfall should be diverted out of Uptown via the Mississippi River instead of carrying it all the way to Lake Pontchartrain, and major drainage ditches like the Monticello Canal should be expanded into interior floodplains and water-storage features, according to two recommendations that illustrate how New Orleans should be better managing its water instead of just pumping it away.

The Water Management Strategy presented by architect David Waggonner to a standing-room only crowd Thursday evening at Xavier University is a regional plan for making more efficient use of rainfall, slowing it down and storing it in natural canals to reduce the sinking of the land that contributes to flooding. The recommendations in the Uptown area are only a small part of the plan, but they illustrate some of its key elements and some of its challenges.

“We’re proposing this is a new era for water management,” Waggonner said. “It’s not just about flood protection any more. It’s really about quality and sustainability.” Continue reading »

Aug 012013

The Lyons Center pool is empty on Wednesday afternoon after all outdoor pools in the city closed Monday, July 29. (Robert Morris,

Less than two months after Mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrated its reopening with a jubilant splash, the pool at the Lyons Center is now closed for the summer, along with all the other outdoor pools in the city.

Closing the pools at the end of July was budgetary decision based on the return to school in August, but residents and some officials say another week or two would have been appropriate. Continue reading »

Jul 312013

NOPD Deputy Chief Darryl Albert greets a resident on Race Street during the NOPD 6th District anti-crime march through the Lower Garden District. (Robert Morris,

After a rash of robberies around the Lower Garden District earlier in July, the NOPD Sixth District chose the neighborhood for its monthly anti-crime march on Wednesday evening. The officers included a number of Sixth District detectives, and they were joined in the march by several members of the Coliseum Square Association as they spoke to residents and handed out CrimeStoppers flyers.

Detective Claudia Bruce hands out CrimeStoppers flyers to a group of men sitting in Coliseum Square. (Robert Morris,

Continue reading »

Jul 302013

A rendering of the Isidore Newman School’s proposed new preschool building. (courtesy Isidore Newman School)

Isidore Newman School hosted parents and community members Tuesday night as the school moves forward with plans to more than double its early childhood facility.

Head of School Dale Smith and architect Mac Ball presented the 950-student school’s plans to expand enrollment offerings to its youngest attendees.

“I think it’s safe to say he’s a preservationist at heart,” Smith said of Ball — one of the reasons he was selected for the job. Continue reading »

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Jul 302013

The four driving lanes currently on Nashville Avenue will become two vehicle lanes and two bicycle lanes after an upcoming repaving project. (map via Google)

After a repaving project this fall, Nashville Avenue will trade the four driving lanes it currently has on the lake side of South Claiborne for two vehicle lanes and two dedicated bicycle lanes, officials said Tuesday. Continue reading »

Jul 302013

A broken, collapsing section of the 900 block of Webster has caused passing drivers to bottom out their cars or to take dangerous, last-minute moves to avoid it for a year or more, but it has finally been repaired after a project that required replacing underground pipes for most of the block, reports Bill Capo and our partners at WWL-TV.

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Jul 292013

(Cartoon by Owen Courreges for

Owen Courreges

Detroit has gone bust, announcing that it will seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The Rust Belt icon of corruption, waste, and decay finally made the difficult decision to cut its losses.

In light of our own sordid history of corruption, waste, and decay, New Orleanians are understandably touchy about this development.  First Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin recently penned an opinion piece for the Times-Picayune entitled “Detroit went bust, not New Orleans” which was ostensibly intended to reassure us that the Big Easy isn’t heading down the same road as the Motor City.

Personally, I did not find this very reassuring in concept alone.  It’s vaguely unsettling that the moment a major American city goes belly-up , a major New Orleans official feels compelled to come out and say: “Don’t worry! We aren’t next!”  It’s disconcerting because Kopplin senses that we have grounds to be worried. Continue reading »

Jul 292013

Map of upcoming repaving projects on Freret, Nashville and Fontainebleau. (via

The project to repave Freret Street, Nashville Avenue and Fontainebleau Drive — scheduled to begin in August — will be the subject of an informational meeting Tuesday evening in the student center at Tulane University, officials announced. Continue reading »

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Jul 292013

Tara Cox feeds chickens and roosters in her St. Roch backyard. (Marta Jewson,

Roosters — such as the one that awakens Rob Schafer every morning on Carondelet Street — are now illegal to keep in the New Orleans city limits under a new law passed earlier this year, reports Marta Jewson of our sister site at

Jul 252013

The Jimmy’s Music Club location at 8200 Willow. ( file photo by Robert Morris)

A hearing on the request to allow alcohol to be served at Jimmy’s Music Club — the key to reopening of the popular venue — was postponed by two weeks by the City Council, but neighbors and officials say an agreement over issues associated with the club is “very close,” perhaps just days away. Continue reading »