Though recent polls (including one from the Wall Street Journal/NBC News) call President-Elect Donald Trump the most unpopular incoming President in decades, more than a thousand Louisiana residents including Fenn French, Louis Gurvich, Adrian Bruneau, Eric Skrmetta, Brian Trascher, Billy Nungesser, Jeff Landry, and State Republican Party Chair Roger Villere with granddaughter Madison are taking in all the Washington’s sights and sounds this week in preparation for the 45th Presidential Inauguration.
If aliens ever came down to Earth, they would quickly determine that the government of the city of New Orleans is at odds with its own citizens, working ceaselessly to render their lives more grueling and costly.
The latest escalation of this ongoing fracas consists of the use of 55 new speed cameras throughout the parish to close this year’s budget gap. If these additions were simply fixed cameras, they would have garnered less attention. Instead, motorists this week were greeted with a cavalcade of unmarked vehicles equipped with speed cameras parked along major streets.
Like thousands of women across the country, former New Orleanian Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), is clearly concerned. Gandy fears that some of the Trump administration’s nominees for key cabinet posts “have historic positions that appear contrary to the rights and protections they will be charged to uphold.” It’s more important than ever, says Gandy, “for women’s voices to be heard and for women to be politically active in issues they care about.”
Victoria Coy, the executive director of the Louisiana Violence Reduction Coalition, went on a bit of a tear this past week over Louisiana’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) law. In an opinion piece written for The Lens, Coy made claims that, if true, would indeed be quite disturbing:
- “Stand Your Ground was tacked on to Louisiana’s Justifiable Homicide rules in 2006, upending centuries of common-sense definitions of self-defense.”
- “Under the revamped rules, you no longer have the duty to retreat from a threat before using lethal force. You need only ‘perceive’ a threat in order to justify meeting force with force — even if you could easily escape that threat.”
- “ Stand Your Ground has codified prejudice. . . . If black men are the scary ones, then why should they be afraid? It’s this exact logic that is not only encouraged, but required under the disastrous Stand Your Ground law.”
Former Congressman Bob Livingston, now a Washington D.C.-based lobbyist, told talk show host Larry King on Tuesday night that President-Elect Donald Trump is making a good start on his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington. “President-elect Trump has hired some outstanding people and is headed in the right direction,” said Livingston.
2016 is now mercifully over. Although the passage of time is normally bittersweet, this past year ranked more or less as the temporal equivalent of a swift kick to the groin. Thus, it was with some relief that New Orleans welcomed 2017 with champagne, food, revelry, and SWAT team members with M-16s placed menacingly about the French Quarter.
“Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold,” is the saying we grew up hearing. New Year’s Day in New Orleans starts with a pot of smothered or stewed cabbage, a pot of black-eyed peas (and rice), corn bread, and a side of corned beef.
Why? Like most things NOLA, it’s tradition. The cabbage represents the greens, the black-eyed peas and the cornbread, self-explanatory.
Governor John Bel Edwards was grateful to receive an award from National Urban League President Marc Morial yesterday in New Orleans. Edwards knew his 2014 victory was due in part to the strong statewide support from African-American elected officials like Congressman Cedric Richmond (also an honoree) and their associated political organizations.
With almost 20 elected offices on the ballot during 2017 — including mayor, city council, sheriff, assessor, clerks of court and at least three judgeships — grassroots political organizations, faith-based coalitions, political action committees and civic groups who support candidates and/or issues are all gearing up for an active campaign season. Also active will be the two parish executive committees and their affiliates.
The holidays are upon us, and in New Orleans, that means food. Family recipe cards are being shared with the next generation and ingredients lined up on the table. In most New Orleans families, holiday dishes are passed down and remain unchanged for a century or more. Seafood is always part of the traditional New Orleans holiday dinner. Oysters are ordered, shrimp too. Lump crabmeat is likely to be on the grocery list.
The cutest Internet video of the week from New Orleans was, inarguably, that of “disco cop.” NOPD Sgt. L.J. Smith was providing security at the Luna Fete light/art festival as electronic dance music brayed from a nearby DJ when he began enthusiastically dancing along with the crowd.
In a city beset by violent crime that has been braced with recurring police scandals, the sight of a cop stepping side-to-side and blowing his whistle in time with the music was a welcome diversion.
This week’s announcement by State Rep. Helena Moreno that she is launching the new nonprofit, bipartisan Ignite Advocacy Network (igniteforchange.org) is the latest example of women tapping into the national discontent over a lack of equal opportunities and channeling those feelings into action. The election of Donald Trump is also inspiring liberal and conservative women around the country to consider a career in government.
Loyola University received more bad publicity this past week when it was accused of discriminating against one of their students on the basis of his profession. He was a cop.
It occurred this past Wednesday when Sergeant Josh Collins of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office attended a class in “Law and Morality” dressed in SWAT fatigues. He’d been attending classes there in criminal justice for eight years and normally wore plainclothes but didn’t that day because he was too busy to change. He was also openly wearing his sidearm.
The Oak Street renaissance continues unabated. Like many older and abandoned shopping districts, the Oak Street Corridor has seen a shift back to commerce. Gentrification, new housing, and an influx of small businesses are flourishing on the new Oak. And, as this is New Orleans, restaurants and food hubs are the neighborhood anchors.
Breads on Oak, which opened in 2012, was one of the first of the new guard to plant itself on Oak. The European-style bakery has since grown from supplying restaurants to being a neighborhood hub, and locals can be seen walking through the doors at a brisk pace on any given day.
Dear President-elect Trump,
Thank you for including Louisiana on your victory tour.
While the majority of Louisiana’s citizens cast their votes for you, the voters of New Orleans did not. We’re a little different because of our unique history and culture. Yet, we’ve got lots of needs we hope you will address.
I am frequently asked where to dine, “where’s the best new place?” even, “where’s the best old place?” It’s an impossible question in New Orleans. There are too many choices. My column is mainly limited to the Uptown area, so that narrows the scope somewhat, but not really.
Last night’s question was, “Where are you brunching this weekend?” Well, here’s the answer. I’m brunching casual and close to home. I’m not trying anything particularly new. It’s a busy week, and I’m seeking comfort and familiarity. That said, comfort and familiarity in New Orleans also equal good food, great chefs, and innovative menus. Casual means no Apolline or Patois this go-round. It also means jeans, a baseball cap, and close enough to walk.
Criminals are stalking the streets of America and killing innocent victims at unprecedented rates. “Police have to gain control of this tremendous crime wave that’s hitting the U.S.,” said President-Elect Donald Trump on “Meet The Press” recently. “Cities need strong police protection.”
There is no question that crime is out of control in New Orleans too. Yesterday’s four shootings with a two-hour period, including one fatality, brought the 2016 number of homicides to 164, equal to last year. Who knows how many homicides will take place in December?
“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
Vietnam War Correspondent Peter Arnett claimed to have overheard this quote from an unnamed American major regarding the shelling of of Bến Tre city in early 1968. Its veracity is questionable, and in any event, Bến Tre was largely rubble due to attacks from the north before US artillery began its assault to rout the Vietcong.
However, that dubious quote has lingered as a paradigmatic example of a peculiar brand of cognitive dissonance: the notion that you can intentionally eradicate something in the midst of preserving it. Obviously, you can’t have it both ways, but a similar idea has come to mind in the wake of the shooting on Bourbon Street this past weekend in which one person was killed and nine others were wounded.
Whether thrilled with the election of Donald Trump or still mourning Hillary Clinton’s dramatic loss, there is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Since its founding in New England, Thanksgiving has always been a great American festival of domestic and moral influence that has brought citizens together around common goals and promoted our national spirit.
Each November, the American Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated over a meal of Turkey and Stuffing. There are an endless variety of regional bread stuffings across the country to choose from. The Southern tradition calls for a Corn Bread Stuffing.
That may indeed be the South, even the Deep South. But, this is New Orleans, and the two are not to be confused. The Creoles did not cook with cornbread nor did they use Saltines. Rice as filler. Yes. Meat. On occasion. But no cornbread.
The owners of the erstwhile New Orleans Zephyrs have earned our gratitude. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, which pitted friends and family against each other, New Orleanians needed a common enemy – a foil so blatantly awful that it would distract from divisive partisan politics and give time to heal the wounds.
The “New Orleans Baby Cakes” will serve that role.