Jan 152015
 

Despite the Airbnb “horror stories” — 50 frat boys packing a tiny house for a weekend of debauchery — the real danger of short-term rentals, critics say, is the evisceration of neighborhoods, where greedy landlords displace long-time tenants for the quick buck of well-heeled weekenders. As New Orleans’ residents are replaced with tourists, the businesses that once served the neighborhood lose their customer base, and they too are replaced with overpriced establishments catering to the wealthy from elsewhere.

That view, supporters of the industry counter, gets the entire picture backwards. Airbnb actually allows residents to keep their homes amid rising prices by providing them with a small but significant supplementary source of income. Meanwhile, because the residents remain at the house, they have more money to spend at their favorite neighborhood establishments — and their guests often choose to spend money at the same places, strengthening the business community. Continue reading »

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Jan 152015
 
City Councilwoman Susan Guidry reiterates her promise to continue activist Jonah Bascle's fight to make the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line accessible to the disabled at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

City Councilwoman Susan Guidry reiterates her promise to continue activist Jonah Bascle’s fight to make the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line accessible to the disabled at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

When City Councilwoman Susan Guidry visited comedian and activist Jonah Bascle in the hospital last month shortly before his death at age 28, she vowed to carry his fight forward to make public transportation in New Orleans accessible to the disabled — specifically, the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.

Last week, with Bascle’s friends and supporters gathered in the City Council chambers, Guidry reiterated that she intends to make good on that promise sooner rather than later. Continue reading »

Jan 152015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Poor Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Winner of two landslide elections, seemingly one of America’s most successful and articulate mayors, architect of a New Orleans post-Katrina renaissance, he has to be wondering what hit him. It seems like his plunge from the penthouse to the outhouse took place almost overnight.

The big punch, of course, began with a sudden surge in Vieux Carre crime that quickly got completely out of control. Gangs of thugs began roaming French Quarter streets, beating people up as well as robbing them. The Vieux Carre community responded with fury, holding rallies, complaining that they were living in Landrieuville where no one is safe for even a moment. Continue reading »

Jan 132015
 
(photo courtesy of Noodle & Pie)

(photo courtesy of Noodle & Pie)

Noodle & Pie, the celebrated new restaurant at the corner of State and Magazine, received a favorable recommendation from city officials Tuesday for its request to start serving cocktails, despite the concerns of a few neighbors worried that the establishment may one day replaced by a nuisance bar. Continue reading »

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Jan 122015
 

Owen Courreges

The NOPD is looking for a few good cops.  It just doesn’t care if they’re very smart.

In a December 29, 2014 letter to the Civil Service Commission, Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison advocated removing the requirement that police recruits obtain at least 60 higher education credits, with exceptions for those possessing prior military or law enforcement experience.

According to Harrison, all that fancy book learnin’ just ain’t necessary.  He’d prefer to emphasize “workforce training over formal classroom education.”  Furthermore, the 60-credit mandate damages “NOPD’s ability to recruit and hire qualified police officers by excluding . . . those who cannot afford a higher education.” Continue reading »

Dec 292014
 

Owen Courreges

New Year’s Day is now nearly upon us. As has always been the case, the libations will flow and drunken debauchery will rule the streets. We will celebrate having endured one more journey around the sun on this world of ours by getting blotto.

Of course, there was a brief period when that wasn’t the case.

“The first day of the New Year was observed, rather than celebrated by New Orleans, with hushful Sabbatical ceremony,” a reporter for the Times-Picayune observed during Prohibition. Continue reading »

Dec 182014
 
A rendering by Studio WTA architects of the redevelopment planned for the corner of Nashville and Magazine. (via nola.gov)

A rendering by Studio WTA architects of the redevelopment planned for the corner of Nashville and Magazine. (via nola.gov)

Restaurateur Sean Josephs speaks to the City Planning Commission on Dec. 9, 2014. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

Restaurateur Sean Josephs speaks to the City Planning Commission on Dec. 9, 2014. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

The new venture at the corner of Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue planned by a husband-and-wife team of celebrated New York City restaurateurs received high marks from the City Planning Commission, sending it to the City Council with a positive recommendation. Continue reading »

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Dec 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll pointed out that the majority of voters were pleased with the results of this year’s midterm elections and thought the Congress — rather than President Obama — should take the lead in setting policy for the country.  Though an overwhelming majority felt that not much change in direction for the country will result from the election, the numbers are a good starting point for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 61, as he aims to clear the field in advance of a brutal campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Although there are other GOP candidates worthy of voter consideration (including Mitt Romney and Chris Christie), Bush — with his “Double B” presidential pedigree and easy access to donors — is the early favorite, ramping up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffling the GOP’s policy debate. Continue reading »

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Dec 162014
 
The house at 5514-16 Tchoupitoulas was one of three that Uptown Car Wash sought to demolish last week. (photographed in 2012 by Preservation Resource Center)

The house at 5514-16 Tchoupitoulas was one of three that Uptown Car Wash sought to demolish last week. (photographed in 2012 by Preservation Resource Center)

For the second time in two years, the New Orleans City Council denied a request to tear down three homes in front of a car wash on the upper end of Tchoupitoulas last week. Continue reading »

Dec 162014
 

Freret Street will be closed between Marengo and Delachaise streets for a week. (map via Google)

Freret Street will be closed between Marengo and Delachaise streets for a week. (map via Google)

A four-block stretch of Freret Street in the Milan neighborhood will be reduced to a single lane of traffic for a week while the road is replaced by the Sewerage and Water Board, officials announced. Continue reading »

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Dec 152014
 
The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google maps)

The old Hubert building at 4401 South Broad Street. (via Google maps)

Lindsey McLellan, a chef at Lola's restaurant who plans a new restaurant in Broadmoor called El Pavo Real, speaks to the New Orleans City council on Thursday, Dec. 11. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

Lindsey McLellan, a chef at Lola’s restaurant who plans a new restaurant in Broadmoor called El Pavo Real, speaks to the New Orleans City council on Thursday, Dec. 11. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

Citing the landlord’s extensive negotiations with neighbors, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell cleared the way last week for a new restaurant in a Broadmoor building with a controversial history. Continue reading »

Dec 152014
 
(illustration by Owen Courreges)

(illustration by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell is set to preview the next installment in her cavalcade of “progressive” policies enacted by other cities. This past week, she announced her intention to introduce a non-binding “Welcoming Resolution” early next year that will include a laundry list of policies proposed by immigrant rights groups.

Don’t get me wrong – some of the policies being suggested are perfectly reasonable. I can hardly dispute the need for multi-language signs and forms at City Hall, or for hiring more Spanish-speakers in the NOPD and in government offices.  We’re relatively close to the Mexican border, and we do need to accommodate the needs of Spanish-speakers.

However, Cantrell’s brief tenure thus far has shown that she has never been one to stop with reasonable policies.  Thus, she also announced that she wants to create a system of municipal identification cards, ostensibly so that illegal immigrants can have photographic identification and proof of residence. Continue reading »

Dec 132014
 

Pay 2 Play

New Orleans Anti-Corruption Coalition is a new bipartisan organization that is working to raise local awareness of the large influence of money in political campaigns, after the most expensive Senate election in Louisiana history. The coalition is launching today with a free screening of the new film “Pay2Play: Democracy’s High Stakes” at the First Universalist United Church Auditorium. Continue reading »

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Dec 102014
 
Halpern's Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue, photographed in June. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Halpern’s Furnishing Store on St. Charles Avenue, photographed in June. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The micro-distillery aspect of the proposed Lula restaurant that is slated to replace the Halpern furniture store on St. Charles Avenue easily won the approval of the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, despite some concerns from neighbors about the impact of larger development plans for the block. Continue reading »

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Dec 032014
 
Jonah Bascle at La Nuit Comedy Theater on Freret Street in 2011.  (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Jonah Bascle at La Nuit Comedy Theater on Freret Street in 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Jonah Bascle, the 28-year-old local comedian ran for mayor as a platform to bring attention to New Orleans’ lack of accessibility for the disabled, died Tuesday morning of complications relating to muscular dystrophy — but friends and supporters vowed to ensure both his love of good humor and his activism to improve the city live on. Continue reading »

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Dec 012014
 
A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city's response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

A sinkhole stretches across Coliseum Street while orange cones mark the city’s response. (Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courreges

Procrastinating until something becomes absolutely critical is undeniably an American tradition.  And when it comes to procrastinating, New Orleans is always at the forefront.

There’s an example of this phenomenon just down the street and around the corner from my house.  In the 2000 block of Coliseum Street there has long been a broken water or drainage line (it’s unclear which).  It first became obvious over seven years ago when the street began to sink and the adjacent brick sidewalk began to break apart. Continue reading »