Dec 242015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While many of our readers are busy making their last minute holiday preparations, we always remember December 24th as the day that one of New Orleans’ greatest champions for the African-American community – Ernest N. Dutch Morial – died 26 years ago. Morial grew up in a highly segregated society where racism was pervasive and dedicated his life to bringing racial reform.

While critics often called Morial pompous, arrogant, vindictive, and ruthless, others viewed Dutch as a confident and decisive leader and civil rights trailblazer. The son of a seamstress and cigar maker who nicknamed his son “Dutch” because he resembled the boy on the label for Dutch Boy paints, Morial played an extremely significant role in improving the lives of African-Americans in New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Dec 242015
 
NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel, center, discusses armed robberies at a September 2015 news conference surrounded by (from left) Deputy Chief Bob Bardy, Second District Lt. Jennifer Dupree, Sixth District Commander Ronnie Stevens and Chief Michael Harrison. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel, center, discusses armed robberies at a September 2015 news conference surrounded by (from left) Deputy Chief Bob Bardy, Second District Lt. Jennifer Dupree, Sixth District Commander Ronnie Stevens and Chief Michael Harrison. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy and Central City activist Barbara Lacen-Keller speak at a crime scene in August 2014. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy and Central City activist Barbara Lacen-Keller speak at a crime scene in August 2014. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Deputy Superintendent Bob Bardy is retiring from the New Orleans Police Department after a career spanning four decades, and Second District Commander Paul Noel has been promoted to the department’s second-in-command position in his place. Continue reading »

Dec 202015
 
Police investigate a fatal shooting in 2011 on Monroe Street just outside an elementary school while classes were in session. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Police investigate a fatal shooting in 2011 on Monroe Street just outside an elementary school while classes were in session. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

On a Thursday in late November, the entire indomitable city of New Orleans recoiled in shared horror at security video of a young medical student collapsed on the sidewalk just off Magazine Street, clutching his bleeding torso, as a hooded assailant stood over him with a gun aimed at his head. The film’s dreadful silence only amplified the menace as the gunman apparently tried to squeeze the trigger, twice, to finish off his already-incapacitated victim, giving up only when a mechanical mercy intervened and the gun refused to fire.

Two nights later, Bunny Friend park in the Ninth Ward — its almost comically benign name a memorial to a teen who died in an accident in the 1920s — became the scene of the city’s next headline-grabbing gun battle. A block party and planned music-video shoot were rent apart by a hail of gunfire, leaving 17 people wounded, and at least a half dozen people have been named as suspects as investigators try to piece together how the celebration turned to chaos.

The bloodshed continued the following weekend, when more young men’s lives would be claimed around some of the city’s most best-known places: 26-year-old Brandon Robinson killed on Bourbon Street, 19-year-old Richad Dowell on Canal Street and 19-year-old Devin Johnson near the newly opened Lafitte Greenway.

And yet, city officials continue to insist that the struggle against violent crime in New Orleans has made significant strides in recent years, and many measurements as well as newly-published academic studies back them up. But if things are getting better, why does the carnage still insist on making its way onto playgrounds, green spaces and tourist thoroughfares? If the violence is the work of a relatively small group of people, why are they so hard to stop? Continue reading »

Dec 182015
 
A construction worker guides a passing SUV across Prytania Street on Friday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A construction worker guides a passing SUV across Prytania Street on Friday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Property owners near the construction of major new drainage canals across Uptown New Orleans are asking a judge to intervene in the management of the project contracts, seeking an end to the interminable delays, they announced Friday morning. Continue reading »

Dec 172015
 
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

A former member of the New Orleans City Council, a high ranking NOPD officer and several uptown residents are among those who have told us that they were polled last weekend regarding Mayor Landrieu’s favorabilty and a possible third term campaign. Based on poll results, which have not been released, could Landrieu test the “3T” waters after the City Council’s expected vote today to remove several monuments? Continue reading »

Dec 142015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

If there is any justice in this world, Mayor Scrooge McLandrieu will be visited this Christmas by three ghosts to help reform him of his callous ways. A recent event certainly evinces a “bah humbug” attitude on the part of our nefarious chief executive.

On Friday, the city began a regular sweep of the homeless encampment beneath the Pontchartrain Expressway. The city removes trash and debris weekly, rectifying code violations. On this occasion a homeless man, “John,” had placed a Christmas tree next to his tent and other belongings. City workers unceremoniously hurled it into a garbage truck as trash. Continue reading »

Dec 102015
 

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell speaks during a campaign event in 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell speaks during a campaign event in 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

As the New Orleans City Council prepares to move into what was expected to be the final round of discussions on a plan to remove three monuments to Confederate leaders and one to a white-supremacist uprising against the Reconstruction government, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell announced that she will oppose the plan because it was “thrust upon the city” from above. Continue reading »

Dec 102015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

On the fourth day of the ancient Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, President Barack Obama told an audience of 500 people that freedom can prevail over tyranny. Hope can triumph over despair. Light can prevail over darkness.

Today we are seeking the light in two divisive issues, Donald Trump’s controversial call to block the entry of all Muslim refugees to the United States, and the best solution on our very own monument controversy. Though very different, both issues are bringing out the best and worst in people and reminding us of dark times in our past. Continue reading »

Dec 092015
 
(photo via Google)

(photo via Google)

The sale of alcoholic beverages at a neighborhood café on Panola Street and outdoor seating for a fast-food fried chicken restaurant on St. Charles Avenue were both granted initial approval by city planning officials on Tuesday. Continue reading »

Dec 082015
 
(photo via nola.gov)

The house at 4018 Laurel Street (photo via nola.gov)

A request to demolish part of a Laurel Street home to prepare for an addition was rejected by city officials on Monday afternoon, but requests regarding two homes on Toledano and Amelia streets were approved. Continue reading »

Dec 042015
 
 Families navigate around the construction area on Napoleon Avenue to clamor for beads from the Krewe of Carrollton in January 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Families navigate around the construction area on Napoleon Avenue to clamor for beads from the Krewe of Carrollton in January 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Despite construction underway on nearly every major transporation artery in Uptown New Orleans less than two months away from Mardi Gras, the City Council approved a 2016 parade schedule this week that suggests krewes follow their traditional routes. Continue reading »

Dec 032015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The facilities operated by the Audubon Nature Institute are unquestionably premiere attractions for families in our region. Forty years ago, a 20-something geeky but industrious low-level employee of the City Planning Commission named Ron Forman caught the eye of then mayor Moon Landrieu who had been frequently embarrassed by the conditions and management at the run-down Audubon Zoo. He quickly dispensed the young Forman to clean it up. Without weeks, the director resigned, Forman took charge and over time convinced New Orleans business and Uptown communities that the zoo was worth supporting. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 
A revised rendering of the condo building planned at 225 State Street. (by Harry Baker Smith Architects)

A revised rendering of the condo building planned at 225 State Street. (by Harry Baker Smith Architects)

Three major new Uptown developments that together represent more than 350 residential units all received City Council approval Thursday, despite neighbors’ objections to one of the projects and the developers’ desire for more density at another. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcements about the rise of armed robberies and that Councilmembers Jason Williams and Susan Guidry want to prioritize funding for 911 operators both illustrate the importance of better funding agencies involved in criminal justice.

“We are one mistake away from disaster and tragedy,” said Williams, who serves as Council President. “And it is unacceptable.” Continue reading »

Nov 162015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Over at Eater New Orleans, Gwendolyn Knapp sums up the ill-fated “Jack & Jake’s” grocery project quite aptly – as a money pit.

The project began in 2011, when Alembic Community Development bought the former Myrtle Banks Elementary School on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. The school, built in 1910, had closed in 2002 and was gutted by fire in 2008. The Orleans Parish School Board had already determined that it wasn’t cost-effective to preserve the building, but Alembic was determined to save the façade. Continue reading »

Nov 062015
 

By William Khan

Hiking the cost of parking meters would be economically counterproductive and regressive. It would take a greater bite of incomes from service workers, and it would be especially harmful to the hospitality workers and businesses that make the city’s economic engine—tourism—run. Continue reading »