Sep 112014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With the court challenge period mostly over and marginal candidates having dropped out, the hard-ball campaigns for various judgeships, the DA, and State Representative have begun in earnest.  Though several organizations like the AFL-CIO, RDO and LIFE, the group founded by former mayor Dutch Morial, completed their endorsements early, we attended three public forums in the last week – the Orleans Parish Republican and Democratic Executive Committees and the Independent Women’s Organization — to get a first-hand look at all the remaining candidates.

Last night’s contest at OPDEC (the Democrats) was a real slug fest with numerous candidates hurling allegations of impropriety at each other which made that crusty audience gasp.  One of the moderators, Jason Coleman, found himself inviting candidates up for the next round, as if it were a boxing match. Continue reading »

Sep 042014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters. Continue reading »

Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 212014
 
Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett, reviews his paperwork with attorney Jennifer Medley. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s always fun to hang around Criminal Court when candidates are qualifying for office, and yesterday was no exception. Although qualifying did not begin until 8 a.m., embattled judge Yolanda King entered the building at 7:15 to ensure first place in line.

Even though King arrived extra early, it took her three tries to get her domicile listed correctly on the sworn affidavit. Domicile is the ongoing problem that might yet land King in jail or at least unable to serve another term. Continue reading »

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Aug 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Jul 312014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond.  While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected.

In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. Continue reading »

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 »

Jun 122014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation.  Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is. Continue reading »

Jun 052014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While the Mayor is touting his successes at the Legislature, Landrieu’s only major success is getting a fall ballot initiative to increase property taxes in New Orleans. Unfortunately for Senator Mary Landrieu, it might be on the ballot at the same time as her election and could be troubling if voters strongly oppose the tax.

Just because New Orleans voters turned down the Audubon Institute’s millage doesn’t automatically mean they will oppose Mitch’s property tax increase. Everyone knows the cost of living in New Orleans has increased dramatically since Katrina. We’re just not sure voters are ready to add on another tax which would hurt property owners and renters, whose landlords would undoubtedly increase rents. Continue reading »

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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 »