Mar 282019
 

Lt Gov. Billy Nungesser chats with former LSU linebacker Devin White, a top 2019 draft pick, at last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While most state officials are spending this week preparing for the upcoming legislative session, yesterday Louisiana’s 54th Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser participated in a White House roundtable in Washington, D.C., on the nation’s economy and trade led by National Economic Council Director and Deputy Assistant to the President Larry Kudlow.

He attended a dinner at the Embassy of Canada where he discussed cultural similarities and additional air-travel opportunities. Today he is moderating a panel on changes to veterans’ health care and will be meeting privately with the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany for more tourism talks. Continue reading »

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Mar 212019
 

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

There are many excellent health care providers in the New Orleans area. One stands out for its almost 200-year commitment and unique wrap-around services – the Daughters of Charity. First at the now-shuttered Charity Hospital and today through 10 neighborhood health centers including one located at 3201 S. Carrollton, the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, or DCSNO, strive to eradicate health care disparities by providing affordable, high-quality care to children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

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Mar 142019
 

Council on Aging Director Howard Rodgers with seniors William Larce and Barbara Bloodworth at the Carrollton Hollygrove Multi-purpose Center. (Danae Columbus, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

On Saturday, March 30, New Orleanians will vote on a 2-mill property tax that would fund services for seniors. If approved, the new millage is expected to generate $6.6 million annually. The “average” New Orleans homeowner would pay less than $100 per year.

I am one of almost 80,000 people aged 55 and over who live in Orleans Parish. Together we represent almost 25 percent of the city’s population. Experts agree that older adults are the most under-served population in our community. Though I have never participated in any of the programs offered seniors by the New Orleans Council on Aging or even through my church, I know how vital they are to the health and welfare of those served. Continue reading »

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Feb 282019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A substantive prisoner re-entry program that includes rehabilitation and job training is “really critical” to reducing recidivism, said Pelican Institute for Public Policy CEO Daniel Erspamer at an YLC Leadership Luncheon last week. Pelican, a nonprofit libertarian-leaning think tank that develops data-driven policy solutions, works to bring jobs and opportunities back to Louisiana by eliminating barriers to success. It also coordinates Louisiana’s Smart on Crime business-led coalition that successfully lobbied for criminal justice reform. Since 2017, the coalition has been monitoring the implementation of the new laws and planning future steps. Continue reading »

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Feb 212019
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell participates in a panel discussion on gentrification at Tulane Hillel in 2015, while Flozell Daniels of the Foundation for Louisiana listens. ( UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Mayor LaToya Cantrell was smart to ask Governor John Bel Edwards to form a working group to identify funding solutions for New Orleans sewerage and drainage problems. Edwards is up for re-election in the fall and will need the support of the popular Cantrell and New Orleans voters. Unfortunately, there is only so much the governor will be able to do without identifying a new taxing source. So far the tourism industry has successfully fought back against Cantrell co-opting any of their existing tax dollars but has pledged to work with her on creating a small new tax. Continue reading »

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Feb 142019
 

Diana Bajoie (third from left) was recently honored for her many contributions. Attendees included Mayor LaToya Cantrell and former elected officials Irma Muse Dixon, Cynthia Willard Lewis, Renee Gill Pratt and Cynthia Hedge Morrell. (submitted photo by Elijah Brown)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Diana Bajoie smiled broadly when the Downtown Development District’s Kurt Weigle touted $500 million dollars of construction permits issued in 2018. First as the area’s State Representative and later as State Senator, Bajoie delivered billions in capital outlay funds for the Morial Convention Center, LSU Health Sciences Center, the Port of New Orleans and many other organizations which laid the foundation for the New Orleans economy that citizens enjoy today. Working closely with numerous governors and legislative leaders, it was Bajoie’s task to gather support across party and geographic lines. Continue reading »

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Jan 312019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer made a wise choice in his selection of former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams, 45, to deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address February 5. A rising star who narrowly lost a bid for governor in 2018, Abrams preached a vision of prosperity and equality that resonated with voters and donors. As a rebuttal speaker to President Trump, Abrams represents three important target audiences Democrats must stitch together – she is an African-American female, under the age of 50, and progressive — rather than liberal-to-a-fault, like many of the party’s fiery new faces. Continue reading »

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Jan 242019
 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With little fanfare last July, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu created the E Pluribus Unum Fund which is serving as a fundraising vehicle to stay in the public eye — while contemplating a future in Washington, D.C. where the fund is based. “We are better together than we are apart,” the fund’s website (unumfund.org) declares.

With an initial focus on the American South, EPUF’s vision is to bring people together around common purpose, shared responsibility and opportunity rather than being divided by anger, hate and fear. Issues to be addressed include race, equity, economic opportunity and violence, as well as explore an institute for racial reconciliation, Landrieu told New York Times columnist Charles Blow in a recent interview about his often-discussed Presidential prospects. Landrieu is also serving as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics this spring. Continue reading »

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Jan 182019
 

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) poses for a social-media video with members of the Eleanor McMain choir after speaking at Xavier University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Widely viewed as a top contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker told thousands of New Orleans high school students on Friday morning that they have the power to bring about the next generation of social changes in America.

“The opposite of justice is not injustice,” Booker said Friday morning at Xavier University. “It’s apathy and indifference.”

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Jan 172019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Even though the effects of the unpopular federal shutdown — now the longest in U.S. history — are playing out in cities and towns across America, Republicans are determined to elect more local and statewide officials in Louisiana and other Southern states. Dubbed the start of the 2020 election season, this weekend’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference at the Pontchartrain Center will serve as a rallying point for more than 1,000 GOP faithful, elected officials, and prospective candidates — especially Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, who have already entered the race against Gov. John Bel Edwards, and former Congressman John Fleming who is said to be considering the same race. GOP candidates down-ballot in the 2019 legislative and local races need a strong slate of contenders for statewide offices to guard against voter apathy. Continue reading »

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Jan 102019
 

With qualifying for the fall state-wide and legislative races just 208 days away, Carling Dinkler IV will be the first candidate to formally announce a bid for the Louisiana Legislature — State Representative District 91 — tomorrow evening at Propeller. Dinkler will have big shoes to fill if he succeeds in replacing the popular but term-limited Walt Leger. “I am humbled and excited to announce I am running for State Representative,” Dinkler tweeted.

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A life-long New Orleanian who lives with his wife Ayame and young daughter in Uptown’s Marlyville neighborhood, Dinkler is currently vice president of business development at Enhanced Capital, a firm that helps secure historic preservation tax credits. He also plays a role in the firm’s governmental relations efforts. Continue reading »

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Jan 032019
 

Assessor Erroll Williams is joined at his swearing-in by Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Judge Robin Guarrusso, Judge Terri Love and former Sheriff Paul Valteau. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

When the 2020 tax rolls open in August, 2019 Assessor Erroll G. Williams is predicting “substantial changes” for properties located in many of New Orleans prime neighborhoods including Uptown, the Lakefront, the French Quarter and the CBD.

Overall, property tax will increase in those neighborhoods as well as the Marigny, Bywater, Treme and Gentilly but could well decrease in New Orleans East and Algiers (except for Algiers Point) where property values – including in the prestigious English Turn neighborhood – have been trending downward. Continue reading »

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Dec 272018
 

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise shares a laugh with the new president of Loyola University, Tania Tetlow. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With the inauguration of Mayor LaToya Cantrell and assertive female City Council members along with election of 125 women members of Congress and governors across the U.S., 2018 was another milestone year for women. Power is shifting, albeit slowing. There is no going back. But we wouldn’t call 2018 the “Year of the Woman” because gender inequality is still so prevalent. Continue reading »

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Dec 202018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Like many New Orleanians I appreciate Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s willingness to leave no stone unturned to fund many of the city’s critical infrastructure problems that former Mayor Landrieu didn’t adequately address. Obviously, it will take money for numerous sources to fill the gap.

Strong mayors have lots of tools at their disposal – including the media – to get their desires heard. But smart leaders know a little honey can go a long way. Keep your friends close and your perceived enemies closer. As a former grassroots organizer, Cantrell must realize that building support through numerous partnerships and artfully negotiated compromises is probably the best method to achieve long-term goals. Change is never quick or easy. So far, Mayor Cantrell is making her point but not making much progress. Continue reading »

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Dec 132018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

District 1 Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta and former District 3 Congressman Charles Boustany – both Republicans – are said to be considering the 2019 race for governor against Governor John Bel Edwards. Two other Republican candidates have already announced – Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and District 5 Congressman Ralph Abraham, a physician and former veterinarian. Continue reading »