Sep 292014
 

Owen Courreges

“Look both ways before crossing the street.”

Every child is taught that line, the essence being that before you step off the curb, you’d better have verified that three tons of automotive engineering won’t be bearing down on your fleshy, fragile form. Being a pedestrian is perilous, and you have to take precautions.

However, in the City of New Orleans, it is often a great deal more dangerous than it ought to be. Continue reading »

Sep 252014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

State Representative Helena Moreno has turned out to be a savvy lobbyist for issues important to women and families and easily able to cross the political aisles to get the votes she needs. That’s the sentiment of the Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Independent Women’s Organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Organization for Women, who hosted a reception in her honor, courtesy of attorney Pamela Gibbs. Continue reading »

Sep 222014
 

Owen Courreges

Cedric Grant and Mayor Landrieu want everyone to know that they plan to repair New Orleans’ chronically ill-maintained street infrastructure. They also want you to know that they have no creative plans for funding it.

Grant is New Orleans’ new grand poobah of public infrastructure. He is simultaneously the executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board and the head of the Department of Public Works. He gets to serve two masters – Mayor Landrieu and the quasi-independent S&WB. Continue reading »

Sep 212014
 
Ralph Adamo (photo by Camille Bullock)

Ralph Adamo (photo by Camille Bullock)

At some point in all of our academic experiences poetry enters the fold.  For some it’s a blessing, others a curse, but for me it became a curiosity.  And then as a pup of an undergrad at Loyola some 20 years ago, I met and had the privilege of being taught by Ralph Adamo, whose classes offered a quiet exploration into language, form and intent. 

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Until that point in my life I’d always considered poetry melodramatic and esoteric, if not silly.  The calm focus Ralph navigated the material made the journey one of intrigue and wonder.  I began to really enjoy and even write (gasp!) poetry.  Once he even held a class at Carrollton Station, which to any undergrad is a bonus.

Over the last two decades we’ve kept in touch intermittently, and then one recent almost-drizzly evening as I stood in my driveway, end-of-day beverage in hand, likely disciplining one of my brood, Ralph happened to pass by walking his dog.  In a very New Orleans moment, someone I hadn’t seen in so long just — appears.  And we picked right up where we’d left off, and of course to prolong that magic the Crescent City can conjure, turns out he (now an English professor at Xavier) and his family had recently moved into the neighborhood just around the corner.  So our dialogue kept unraveling and here we are: Continue reading »

Sep 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Recent headlines about highly-regarded athletes such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Oscar Pistorius illustrate just how pervasive domestic violence still is in America and around the world. Whether readers realize it or not, everyone knows someone who has been a victim – a neighbor, an auntee, a best friend or even the writer of this column. Continue reading »

Sep 152014
 
The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

Owen Courreges

I’ve written a lot of columns since I started to write for Uptown Messenger in January of 2011.  Sometimes I look back over them and realize: “You know, there have been some interesting developments with this since I put pen to paper.”

Accordingly, every now and again, I revisit a few old columns to provide brief updates on some of the topics I’ve written about.  Some have happy endings, some less so.

So, without further ado, I give you The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Continue reading »

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 »

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Sep 082014
 
(cartoon by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

(cartoon by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courreges

Armed only with flashlights and imbued with a bare modicum of power, they’re soon to hit the streets of the French Quarter.  These proud few will deal with parking issues and other quality-of-life complaints.  They will respond to traffic accidents not resulting in injury.  They will give directions to tourists.

They are… The NOLA PATROL.

Late last month, Mayor Landrieu made the grand announcement that his office would be forming the NOLA Patrol, a force of approximately 50 civilian employees .  The operations of these young bucks are slated to be funded with a 0.25-percent hotel/motel tax instituted last year, which will bring in an estimated $200,000 per month. 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 292014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our TV cameras and computer hard drives to get out of Dodge before Katrina struck. Danae finally took Ray Nagin’s pleas seriously about 4 a.m. and began the long, slow journey to her parents in Arkansas with five dogs and our photographer. Allan, his sister Sandy Levy and their aged Mother, Miriam Katz, left several days earlier for Birmingham in an abundance of caution. Continue reading »

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Aug 282014
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

I want to tell you a story, though it’s a tired one.  It’s one of watermarks, floodlines, and rust.  It’s one of great sadness, overwhelming emotions, and glorious reunitings.  One that over the last 10 years most Americans are tired of hearing, and one that many New Orleanians have a version of.  It’s Katrina.  And Rita.  And levees breaking.  And the curious nine years that followed the moisture-rotted rollercoaster of events in latter 2005 in the Crescent City.  And while my tale unfurls I will ask you to remember two words: gumbo party. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 

Owen Courreges

I’m just going to come right out and say what everything is thinking: What the @#$% is going on with home prices in Orleans Parish?

It’s getting crazy out there. I’ve been seeing listings of renovated homes for over $300 per square foot on the edge of Central City.  A “fixer-upper” needing a “total renovation” on the edge of City Park recently hit the market for $700,000. Continue reading »

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 »

Aug 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While it’s very early in the competition to see who the Presidential nominees will be in 2016, we’ve been impressed by the energy and drive of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.

Senator Paul recently accepted an invitation to speak to an Urban League convention in Florida. Unfortunately, most of the delegates to the convention thought that inviting an arch-conservative like Senator Paul was a mistake and stayed away from the session where he spoke. Continue reading »

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Aug 042014
 
The Future Land Use Map in the city of New Orleans' Master Plan identifies a lot at Constance and Harmony as "parkland" when it is actually a privately-owned lot. (via nola.gov)

The Future Land Use Map in the city of New Orleans’ Master Plan identifies a lot at Constance and Harmony as “parkland” when it is actually a privately-owned lot. (Source: nola.gov)

Owen Courreges

In literature, typically anything with the word “master” before it is going to be something both controlling and nefarious. For example, if a science fiction novel references a “master computer,” you can bet your last credit that it is either threatening the existence of humanity, or has already wiped us off the globe.

This is why the idea of a “Master Plan” for the City of New Orleans has always been viscerally unsettling to me. It’s as though there’s some cold, unfeeling entity out there that seeks to control every aspect of using property in the city.

Gut feelings can be off, of course, but this one is not. 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 »

Jul 282014
 

The bayou facade of the proposed Deutsches Haus building on Moss Street (via Mathes Brierre architects)

Owen Courreges

We can now officially say that the New Orleans City Planning Commission is insane.  This week, the Planning Commission asked members of the Deutsches Haus to revisit the plans for their new building in Mid-City — because it is too Germanic-looking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Now, when you go car shopping, you don’t say to the salesman: “I like this car, but it looks too much like, you know, a car.  Don’t you have anything that looks like a bicycle?” Continue reading »

Jul 242014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

“There’s just something about Mary!” exclaimed state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of Louisiana’s Democratic Party, when she introduced U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in Washington, D.C. yesterday at the Dentons Navigant Energy Outlook Series, attended by a global audience of energy officials at the National Press Club. 

Dentons, the international law firm which advises the New Orleans City Council on utility regulatory matters, operates an office in New Orleans which Carter Peterson recently joined. Other New Orleanians present included Pearlina Thomas, chief of staff to Councilman Jason Williams, chair of the Council’s Utilities Committee. Continue reading »

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Jul 212014
 

Owen Courreges

Keeping your eye on the road matters.  Sometimes it just prevents you from being a jerk, other times it can save somebody’s life.

Case in point: Earlier this past week I was going down Oak Street looking for a parking space on the street. When I saw one, I immediately hand signaled (my car is 63 years old and lacks turn signals) and slowed next to the spot. A white SUV was approaching behind me from the intersection, so I held the hand-signal for a few seconds, believing that the SUV would see the signal and leave me sufficient space. Continue reading »

Jul 142014
 

Owen Courreges

Your home is not a hotel, obviously. However, an ever-growing number of New Orleans homeowners want to run a hotel-type business on the side. With tourism booming in the midst of a generally weak economy, it’s a quick way to make some extra cash.

This is the nexus of the controversy over “illegal short-term rentals” that has been permeating local political discourse in recent months. Due to zoning and licensing laws, there’s simply no way for homeowners to rent a room out as a vacation rental. Most crucial is the fact that any lease has to be for at least 30 days (or 60 days in the French Quarter). Continue reading »