May 232016
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Long ago, the law respecting the idea of sanctuary was embedded in British common law. Fugitives would be immune from arrest in sacred places, such as places of worship. You’ve probably seen a movie where some neer-do-well runs into a church with police on his heels and yells “sanctuary,” as though he’s discovered some trump card against getting caught.

However, sanctuary wasn’t quite the unequivocal boon to absconding felons as it would first appear. If he made it inside a church, the fugitive would then have 40 days to surrender to secular authorities or confess their crimes and be subject to forfeiture of their worldly possessions and permanent exile, i.e., “abjure the realm.” Continue reading »

May 042015

Owen Courreges

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of urban planning. The idea of some committee micromanaging what structure should go where, what uses should be permitted, what time we should be having our bowel movements (ok, perhaps they don’t go that far), has always unnerved me.

A die-hard planner looks at a map of New Orleans and they don’t see an established city chock-full of independent decision-makers. Instead, they see an interactive game that they can manipulate and control. They see “Sim City.”

Exhibit “A” for this is Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who decided to put her foot in her mouth while giving a speech before the House while arguing against an amendment to block funding for an Obama Administration Flood Risk Management Executive Order. Continue reading »

Apr 302015

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Sunday, May 3, should be a pretty good 54th birthday for U.S. Senator David Vitter, the clear frontrunner in the Louisiana’s governor’s race. Vitter has raised $1.1 million in the most recent campaign finance period which ended earlier this week and still has $4.2 million on hand, more than the other three major candidates combined. That total does not include Vitter’s SuperPac which is also sitting on millions.

While money does not always dictate the outcome of campaigns, it certainly makes it easier to spread a candidate’s message through television, direct mail, phone banks, election day activities and all those other indicators of a truly successful campaign. Continue reading »

Mar 192015

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive.

We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Jan 102015
Same-sex marriage supporters began lining up outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals before dawn on Friday to secure a seat in the courtroom. (Robert Morris,

Same-sex marriage supporters began lining up outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals before dawn on Friday to secure a seat in the courtroom. (Robert Morris,

As expected, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made no decision on same-sex marriage in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi after hearing arguments Friday morning from attorneys on both sides of the issue in each state. Likewise, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to reveal whether it will take issue up in its spring session, which would supercede any decision by the appeals court.

But the three 5th Circuit judges — Judge Jerry E. Smith and Patrick Higginbotham, two appointees of President Ronald Reagan, and Judge James Graves, appointed by President Barack Obama — did each seem to focus on different issues in their questions during Friday’s hearings, shedding some light on which issues they felt needed more elucidation. Continue reading »

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 082014

Owen Courreges

It’s a catchy title: “91%.” However, it stands for something far less significant.

Local documentary filmmaker John Richie has certainly adopted a theme. His previous effort, “Shell Shocked,” aimed to portray the gritty reality of youth gun violence in New Orleans. He now plans to follow up that film with “91%,” which is being pitched as “a film about gun background checks and the people whose lives they impact.” Continue reading »

Dec 042014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement was definitely in the air at the Windsor Court Monday night as 150 well-heeled donors patiently waited for an intimate concert by the great Stevie Wonder to begin.  Attorney Tim Francis convinced Wonder, his old boss, to perform at the big ticket fundraiser for Mary Landrieu and served as master of ceremonies. Wonder told the crowd he and Landrieu “shared the same values” and that’s why he came. Continue reading »

Nov 152014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like other remaining Democratic candidates around the country, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu knows she must increase her support among black and white females to emerge victorious on Dec. 6. That’s why Norma Jane Sabiston, Kristin Palmer, Angele Wilson and others are again reaching out to 5,000 key women supporters statewide to build Mary’s Army, highly committed grassroots warriors who will knock doors and work phones non-stop for the next three weeks. Armed with pink t-shirts and lists of likely voters, these women clearly understand the campaign’s success rests largely on their ability to persuade voters one person at a time. Not only does the Landrieu camp need to turn out a larger number of African-American voters, they also need to convince white voters to switch from Cassidy. Continue reading »

Oct 092014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For Democratic candidates in Deep South and Border States, carrying President Barack Obama on their backs is a bone-breaking load that may very well end their political careers.

There is no better example of that than the multi-talented U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu who has every right to feel exhausted from carrying the weight of the unpopular President every day, every hour and every minute. But Landrieu isn’t alone. In Arkansas, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor is also staggering under the Obama load. And, in a border state like Kentucky, Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes would surely defeat Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell if it were not for the Obama load that threatens to sink her in a race so close that the winning margin may well be one percent or less. In Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers is so far behind Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran that the race could well be considered over and settled. Continue reading »

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Jun 192014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As readers are well aware, the Tea Party is a growing anti-big government movement that seeks to change American politics by often promising to get government out of the lives of citizens – as if that is even remotely possible. Most people of our generation began their voting lives as Democrats.  We understand that when people get a little older, more successful and sometimes more conservative, they might transition from being moderate Democrats to Republicans.

That’s fine. But right-leaning Tea Party Republicans are as out-of-step with middle America as the left-leaning fringes of the Democratic party. And they certainly won’t help the Republican party attract the ever-growing number of  Hispanic, Asian and African-American voters they must have to win another presidential election.  As the voting majority nationally because more non-white each year, both parties are scrambling to embrace those voters. Continue reading »

Apr 172014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The conventional wisdom is that former Governor Edwin W. Edwards can’t be serious about running for the open seat in the Sixth Congressional District or, if he is serious, has no chance to win.

The 86-year-old Silver Fox, still looking good and as engaging as ever, made it as clear as he could at a recent reception that drew hundreds of his Metro New Orleans friends that he is running, expects to run first in the Nov. 4 primary and believes he’ll have a chance in the Dec. 6 runoff against whichever Republican comes out of a crowd of candidates to take him on in the general election. Continue reading »

Apr 032014

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We have been watching with much interest the national and Louisiana debate regarding increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The latest polls show that support is growing across the nation, although only seven states and the District of Columbia have raised starting pay.

According to today’s New York Times, Louisiana is one of five states – the others being Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that currently does not have a minimum wage. Washington State has the highest wage ($9.32) currently with D.C. to move to $11.50 in 2016. While both those rates might be too high for Louisiana’s economy, something must be done to give our lowest paid citizens a better opportunity to succeed in life. Continue reading »

Oct 102013
The undivided two-way traffic pattern that dominates Jefferson Avenue on the river side of St. Charles Avenue will soon extend to South Claiborne as the drainage-canal installation proceeds. (Robert Morris,

The undivided two-way traffic pattern that dominates Jefferson Avenue on the river side of St. Charles Avenue will soon extend to South Claiborne as the drainage-canal installation proceeds. (Robert Morris,

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for overseeing the construction of four major drainage canals around Uptown New Orleans, the federal-government shutdown caused the agency to miss a planned public meeting Thursday about the beginning of the latest phase on Jefferson Avenue. Continue reading »

Oct 012013
(map via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

(map via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Boh Brothers Construction Co., the contractor currently installing a drainage canal on Napoleon Avenue between Claiborne Avenue and Carondelet Street, won the contract last week for the final phase of extending that canal down to Constance Street, authorities said. Continue reading »

Sep 242013

New Orleans health commissioner Karen DeSalvo, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and Sterling Farms co-founder Troy Henry are introduced during a forum at the Prytania Theatre on Tuesday evening. (Robert Morris,

New Orleans health commissioner Karen DeSalvo, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and Sterling Farms co-founder Troy Henry are introduced during a forum at the Prytania Theatre on Tuesday evening. (Robert Morris,

Major proposed cuts to the federal food-stamp programs could be devastating to a cycle of hunger and poverty that already exists in America, even while New Orleans is making strides in the right direction against those trends, a trio of panelists agreed Tuesday evening.

“We are represented by a Republican and a Democrat, and both of them need a call this week about this vote,” said MSNBC host and Tulane professor Melissa Harris-Perry. Continue reading »

Sep 232013


Second Harvest Food Bank, which helps feed a quarter of a million South Louisiana residents each year, is hosting a free screening Tuesday evening at the Prytania Theatre of “A Place at the Table,” a documentary about the struggles of Americans on food stamps. MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, New Orleans Health Commissioner Karen DeSalvo and Troy Henry of Sterling Farms will participate in a panel discussion after the event. Continue reading »

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Aug 272013
A spray-painted welcome to President Bush on St. Claude Avenue on Aug. 29, 2006. (photo by jewel bush)

A spray-painted welcome to President Bush on St. Claude Avenue on Aug. 29, 2006. (photo by jewel bush)

jewel bush

When President George W. Bush’s motorcade drove down St. Claude Avenue on August 29, 2006 — the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — there were many signs, like sentries, stationed along his route to Fats Domino’s house in the Ninth Ward, one stop on his itinerary of ceremonial rounds.

The messages, posted on signs lined along the neutral ground and on the actual storm-clobbered buildings, weren’t flattering greetings from the city’s welcome committee. The collective reverberation to the commander in chief’s obligatory pilgrimage to the place he neglected a year earlier was that of a shimmering rage, pithy and piercing in delivery.

One of the strongest indicators of this sentiment was a lop-sided, green Port-a-Potty positioned on the very edge of the neutral ground somewhere along St. Claude, a strategic locale sure to catch the eye of, if not, the president himself, someone in his party. Among protest notes scribbled in gold spray paint on all four sides of this freestanding structure, the standout read: “Reserved for Bush.”

Mr. President, welcome to New Orleans. Continue reading »