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 »

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
 
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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Mar 162014
 
(via Louisiana Secretary of State's office)

(via Louisiana Secretary of State’s office)

In Saturday’s runoffs, Jason Williams won the At-Large seat on the City Council and Sheriff Marlin Gusman was also re-elected, each winning with roughly two-thirds of the vote, and in the closest race of the evening, Jeff Rouse was elected coroner.

Meanwhile, the controversial tax for the Audubon Nature Institute was rejected by voters by a two-to-one margin. Continue reading »

Mar 142014
 

By Brooke Duncan III

It’s unfortunate that some have taken to social and other media to bash Audubon, one of the truly great success stories of local government in our time. The millage started out at 4.2 but was reduced a few years ago as a result of a state-wide reassessment of property values when values declined following Katrina. Without getting bogged down in semantics, the tax has been in place for a long time and the proposal returns the millage to its prior level. The difference for a home valued at $200,000 has been reported to be around $12 a year. The current taxes will end in 2021-2022. This is an effort to establish the taxes at the former millage; this is not a new tax in addition to the existing tax. Continue reading »

Mar 102014
 

Owen Courreges

Ron Forman makes over $700,000 per year, yet he’s acting like a beggar.  And the worst part is, he’s not even an honest one.

Forman, the president and CEO of the Audubon Nature Institution (and erstwhile mayoral candidate), is seeking a new property tax millage.  It would be of 50 years duration at a rate of 4.2 mills.  Although the new millage would replace the existing 3.31 mills dedicated to the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas, it is not a renewal.  It is a new millage. Continue reading »

Mar 102014
 
(courtesy of The Audubon Nature Institute)

(photo via The Audubon Nature Institute)

On Saturday (March 15), Orleans Parish voters will decide on more than just runoff races for City Council seats. A property tax worth up to $11.9 million a year is up for vote for the Audubon Nature Institute, the organization that supports the Uptown-located Audubon Zoo, as well as the Aquarium downtown and other sites around the city.

Supporters of the millage say it is a renewal of an already-existing tax. But dissenters say that it’s a new tax, because it could mark an increase in funds for the Institute for a period of 50 years. Continue reading »

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Mar 072014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For those of us whose memories go back a long ways, one of the all-time great New Orleans stories is the transformation of the Audubon Park Zoo from an “animal ghetto” to a world-class zoo that is considered an American gem.

It all started in the 1970s when then-Mayor Moon Landrieu, irate about complaints that the zoo was a vile-smelling, dirty place where the animals suffered from a lack of care, sent a promising young administrative assistant Ron Forman to the Uptown outpost to see what if anything could be done. Continue reading »

Feb 242014
 

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, who was widely hailed for his leadership in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina and is now considering a run for governor, will speak about the threats to Louisiana’s environment at 7 p.m. tonight (Monday, Feb. 24) at First Unitarian-Universalist Church, 5212 South Claiborne Avenue. Continue reading »

Feb 202014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Voting is one of the most treasured rights of every American. But it is amazing how many people either never register or find some excuse not to vote. Then of course there is the perceived voter fatigue caused by having too frequent elections, failure to educate oneself on the issues, or being too lazy to physically go to the polls.

With early voting set to begin March 1, political eyes will be watching to see what impact voter apathy – due in part to our love of all things Mardi Gras – will have on voter turnout for the March 15 runoff elections for Council At Large, Council C, Sheriff and Coroner. In the primary election held on February 1, approximately 12,000 voters cast their votes early and a much smaller number voted by mail. Continue reading »

Feb 132014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Good for the jurors who yesterday found former Mayor Ray Nagin guilty on 20 of 21 criminal charges in federal court.

Those of us who have watched Nagin closely for the eight years he was in office believe Ray thought he could con the jury, just as he fooled New Orleans voters in the 2002 and 2006 mayoral elections. His hubris brought to mind Danae’s initial impression after Ray’s emergence as a major candidate in the 2002 election. “Ray is a rock star,” Danae said. “He’s cool, handsome and clever. Ray’s not about substance. He’s about being Ray.” Continue reading »

Feb 062014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

You have to hand it to Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He ran a flawless campaign. His message was just what the voters wanted to hear and of course it helped that he had many millions of dollars to drive home his message through mail and tv, along with a very strong Get Out The Vote effort that capitalized on pure volunteers, unclassified employees and a skilled team of out-of-state professionals.

Judge Michael Bagneris, who got a late start, could not keep up. Judge Bagneris had to spend so much time driving to explain to the voters the Mayor’s failings, that he never had time to define his goals and method to reach them. Continue reading »

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Feb 042014
 
A map of precincts won by City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and challenger Jason Williams on Saturday. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

A map of precincts won by City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and challenger Jason Williams on Saturday. (map by Brian Denzer; click for larger PDF)

New Orleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell won over voters in far more precincts than either of her two challengers, but Jason Williams and Freddie Charbonnet together won far more voters than she did — making for a spirited contest with advantages on both sides between Hedge-Morrell and Williams heading into the March 15 runoff. Continue reading »

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Feb 032014
 
Precinct-level results in the City Council At-Large Division 1 race. (map by Brian Denzer, click for larger PDF version)

Precinct-level results in the City Council At-Large Division 1 race. (map by Brian Denzer, click for larger PDF version)

Despite the well-known rivalry between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Councilwoman Stacy Head — she was the only incumbent council member he declined to endorse for re-election — the two were re-elected by very similar margins across the city, with support from very similar precincts. Continue reading »

Feb 032014
 

Owen Courreges

Sometime after the Iran-Iraq broke out in 1980, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying: “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.”

These words seem appropriate following the results of the Orleans Sheriff’s election day this past Saturday.  Incumbent Marlin Gusman received 49% of the vote, falling just short of the amount required to avoid a runoff.  The runner up with 29% of the vote, Charles Foti, is also Gusman’s predecessor. Each of these men have made their own contributions to a Sheriff’s office that is beyond dysfunctional. Continue reading »