Mar 312014
 

Residents of the City Council District B — which spans most of Uptown and the Central Business District from Jefferson Avenue to Canal Street, and also includes part of Mid-City — are invited to a hospitality tent at Wednesdays at the Square this week, hosted by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and featuring food by John Besh’s restaurant Luke. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Mar 312014
 

Owen Courreges

This week, I spotted two pieces of news that become quite unnerving when placed together.

First, this legislative session, no fewer than four lawmakers have filed bills seeking to authorize off-duty police officers to carry firearms in bars.  The move comes in reaction to an opinion issued last summer by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in which he advised that the practice is technically illegal under an existing Louisiana statute.

Secondly, former 6th District New Orleans police officer Desmond Pratt was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.  Pratt owed his light sentence to the reluctance of the victims to testify, a common factor in rape and incest cases. Continue reading »

Mar 282014
 
The former Uptowner banquet hall at 438 Henry Clay Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Uptowner banquet hall at 438 Henry Clay Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A sign at the Uptowner alerting neighbors of a proposed prisoner re-entry program. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A sign at the Uptowner alerting neighbors of a proposed prisoner re-entry program. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

For years, chef Greg Sonnier fought to reopen his old Mid-City restaurant Gabrielle in a banquet hall on Henry Clay Avenue known as the Uptowner, but neighbors eventually convinced the New Orleans City Council to keep the building zoned residential, and Sonnier moved on to become executive chef at the new French Quarter restaurant Kingfish.

Now, Sonnier says he has a plan for The Uptowner that will suit both him and the building’s residential zoning: The Orleans Parish Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative. Local and state corrections officials, however, say they are not involved in or aware of the project. Continue reading »

Mar 272014
 
A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

A long-promised community center slated for west Carrollton received another extension from the New Orleans City Council Thursday afternoon, but the years-old controversy over its management flared again amid traded accusations of secret agendas. Continue reading »

Mar 272014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In the last 50 years, there have been many Directors of Aviation at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport but few about whom there was any urgency to retain them. But the current Director of Aviation, Iftikhar Ahmad, is one of the hottest guys in the nation in his field of work and the New Orleans Aviation Board is giving him a $35,000 a year raise that he didn’t ask for because they want to keep him here.

Restaurateur Ti Martin, a member of the Aviation Board, says, “He has come to have a lot of affection for New Orleans and the region and we need to lock him to finish what he has started.” Continue reading »

Mar 262014
 
Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

After years of court battles, the proposed sale of Newcomb Boulevard between St. Charles Avenue and Freret Street is headed to the City Planning Commission in less than two weeks, and those who have fought to have the street reopened are hoping to rally public opinion to their side with a quickly organized campaign. Continue reading »

Mar 252014
 

On March 16, a Riverbend family awoke to the sound of someone trying to break in their front door, but could not get 911 operators to pick up when they called for help, according to a report by Tania Dall of our partners at WWL-TV. The family’s barking dog eventually scared the would-be intruder away, and it was not until the victims called the NOPD Second District station directly that they were able to contact a police officer, Dall reports.

Mar 242014
 

For the sequel to his autobiographical play “Reflections,” former City Council president Oliver Thomas has invited two other former New Orleans elected officials to join the cast — former City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and former school board president Gail Glapion, according to Alex Woodward of our partners at Gambit. “Reflections 2″ runs April 11-27 at Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 South Carrollton Avenue.

 Comments Off
Mar 212014
 

The Audubon Nature Institute will not file its first campaign-finance report until April 24, more than a month after the March 15 election it was advertising for, because it is not reporting any spending prior to Feb. 21, according to a report by Tyler Bridges of The Lens. Its activities prior to that date — including creation of a website called VoteYesForAudubon.com — were “part of a ‘branding campaign’ that did not specifically advocate the tax,” Audubon’s attorney told The Lens, though at least one critic says that the lack of disclosure allows Audubon to “circumvent” campaign finance laws intended to let the public know who is spending money to influence elections.

Mar 202014
 

SWBOver the next year and a half, the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans will replace all the city’s water meters with new models that can be read remotely, eliminating the need for meter readers and allowing residents to monitor their usage in real time, according to a recent report by Della Hasselle of our sister site at MidCityMessenger.com. The utility is also moving toward entire water line replacements instead of “point repairs” on lines that break to reduce the amount of leakage across the system.

Mar 202014
 

The sentencing hearing for Former District B City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt’s federal racketeering conviction has been delayed until May so that she can seek a new trial on the basis that anonymous online commenting by members of the U.S. Attorney’s office may have unfairly influenced the jurors in her trial in 2011, according to a report by Laura Maggi of The Advocate. The same scandal previously led to the convictions against five NOPD officers in the Danziger Bridge shooting being overturned, Maggi notes.

 Comments Off
Mar 202014
 
Precinct-level results for the tax proposal supporting the Audubon Nature Institute. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

Precinct-level results for the tax proposal supporting the Audubon Nature Institute. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

The tax supporting the Audubon Nature Institute was not only rejected by New Orleans voters by a two-to-one margin, but the opposition was also distributed evenly across the city, losing in all but 10 of the city’s 366 voting precincts. Continue reading »

Mar 202014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The power of social media and voter’s desire for a younger crop of elected officials definitely were the hallmarks of last Saturday’s election. In every instance, the younger of the two candidates was elected or reelected, as in Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Mar 192014
 

The St. Patricks' Day block party outside Tracey's and Parasol's on Sunday. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

The St. Patricks’ Day block party outside Tracey’s and Parasol’s on Sunday. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

The off-duty police officers who have worked the Irish Channel block parties on St. Patrick’s Day for years declined to sign up this year through the city’s new, federally-mandated paid-detail system, leaving organizers scrambling to find replacements until the last minute, reports John Simerman of The New Orleans Advocate. Only about 15 percent of the department’s officers have signed up for jobs through the new city’s office, and as a result of the St. Patrick’s Day issue and others like it, the city is considering offering police higher rates for the off-duty work, Simerman reports.

 Comments Off
Mar 192014
 
Precinct-level results in the runoff for Orleans Parish Coroner. (map by Brian Denzer; click for full-sized PDF)

Precinct-level results in the runoff for Orleans Parish Coroner. (map by Brian Denzer; click for full-sized PDF)

In Saturday’s election for Orleans Parish Coroner, Jeff Rouse picked up votes in precincts across the city with the third-place candidate out of the runoff, while Dwight McKenna saw turnout among his supporters decrease — leading to Rouse’s narrow comeback victory. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Mar 182014
 
Precinct-level results in the sheriff's race runoff. (map by independent data analyst Brian Denzer)

Precinct-level results in the sheriff’s race runoff. (map by independent data analyst Brian Denzer; click to enlarge)

Sheriff Marlin Gusman won 40,068 votes in Saturday’s runoff election against Charles Foti — only about 500 fewer than he won in the Feb. 1 primary despite a dramatic decrease in turnout, suggesting that voters who chose other candidates initially and even some of Foti’s supporters simply stayed home. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Mar 172014
 
Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Roly Poly restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street is slated be torn down and replaced with a new Regions Bank at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, according to a demolition request pending before the city. Continue reading »

Mar 172014
 

Contractors working on the massive Uptown drainage projects along Jefferson, Napoleon and soon Louisiana avenues plan to fit their work crossing the St. Charles Avenue streetcar tracks from June to August of this year, and during those months, St. Charles Avenue will be reduced to two lanes of traffic, according to a report by Monica Hernandez of our partners at WWL-TV.

 Comments Off
Mar 172014
 
A map of results in the City Council At-Large race. Areas shaded dark green show precincts where Jason Williams improved his results by 25 percent or more. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

A map of results in the City Council At-Large race. Areas shaded dark green show precincts where Jason Williams improved his results by 25 percent or more. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

Jason Williams

Jason Williams

Although voter turnout decreased by 20,000 people in Saturday’s runoff election, Jason Williams actually increased his vote total by nearly 10,000 votes to secure his landslide victory — especially in precincts that Cynthia Hedge-Morrell had initially won in the Feb. 1 primary, an analysis of voting data shows. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Mar 172014
 

Owen Courreges

Should the powers of New Orleans Municipal Court be expanded?   It’s already happening.  You just probably didn’t realizing it was going on.

It began a couple of years ago, in late January 2012.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu dispatched letters to the judges of Criminal District Court and Municipal Court asking them to impose higher bonds for release in gun cases.  Landrieu specifically pointed to a program initiated by Judge John Garvey in St. Louis, who began automatically requiring a $30,000 cash-only bond for youths arrested for illegally possessing firearms. Continue reading »