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 »

Feb 092019
 

Sponsored by Korman Gerrity Real Estate

I’m Joe Gerrity, local businessman, investor and Real Estate Broker. For my monthly “Yo Joe!” column, I’ll be answering your real estate questions as well as providing market information and housing statistics.

I believe the main responsibilities of a Realtor are to add value and facilitate mutually beneficial transactions, and through this column I hope to help the New Orleans community make more informed decisions about their housing future.

Yo Joe! What kind of an impact does Mardi Gras have on the New Orleans real estate industry?

During the lead up and actual prime time of Mardi Gras, the market slows pretty substantially. People are busy setting up for parades, making preparation for house guests, knocking items off their professional to-do lists, and just generally avoiding the responsibility that comes with buying or selling a home. Continue reading »

Feb 072019
 

The building at 820-822 Baronne Street. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Preservationists Mike and Bettye Duplantier bought a run-down historic town house at 820 Baronne in 1978 and enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood’s transition from skid row to prime South Market District real estate. Little did they know that 40 years later a well-meaning young couple would dream of converting the spacious adjoining town house at 822 Baronne into a 10 to 12-room boutique hotel with lobby bar and courtyard. Both buildings share a common attic. Continue reading »

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 212019
 

Jeffrey P. Wilke, left, the 86th king of Alla, shakes hands with Lance Cpl. Montana Olle, a saxophone player with Marine Corps Band New Orleans, before the Alla parade on Feb. 4, 2018. (Cpl. Dallas Johnson, via Reserve Band Facebook page)

“There is no sharper band in all of Carnival than the local Marine Corps Band,” said Mardi Gras expert Errol Laborde. Specifically, the Marine Corps Reserve Band New Orleans.

Uptown routinely sees the Marine Corps Reserve Band’s bus and its Marines filing out and lining up to march down Jefferson Avenue, Napoleon Avenue or, in the case of Thoth, Henry Clay. Saints’ fans recently enjoyed their pregame concert performed at Champions Square outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Continue reading »

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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 112019
 

La Boulangerie’s traditional sugar topped cinnamon King Cakes (via La Boulangerie)

The local New Orleans grocer Breaux Mart has rechristened itself King Cake Mart on Twitter for the duration of the carnival season. That should give out-of-towners an idea of the importance of King Cake in our city.

As many in the world awaited Twelfth Night and the Epiphany or Three Kings Day to mark the ending of Christmas, New Orleanians impatiently ticked off the days until Jan. 6 for another reason: to signify the arrival of the carnival season and the blessed arrival of King Cake.

It’s the time for locals to play, feast, and attend endless parties, masque balls, and parades. But first, it’s time for an entire city to eat large circles of sugar-laden cake. Every. Single. Day.

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 152018
 

Sponsored by Korman Gerrity Real Estate

I’m Joe Gerrity, local businessman, investor and Real Estate Broker. For my monthly “Yo Joe!” column, I’ll be answering your real estate questions as well as providing market information and housing statistics.

I believe the main responsibilities of a Realtor are to add value and facilitate mutually beneficial transactions, and through this column I hope to help the New Orleans community make more informed decisions about their housing future.

Yo Joe! What’s your general feeling about the housing market right now?

This is obviously one of the main recurring topics of discussion amongst Realtors. Things have been slow the past few months. Hurricane season turns into election season, and then the holidays roll around. There was uncertainty in not only the real estate market but the stock market as well. A lot of people felt that the real estate market has plateaued, or even started to trend downward. Continue reading »

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Dec 142018
 

series photo via Bravo.com

With the potholes, power outages and never-ending boil water advisories, one would think New Orleans has suffered enough. But no, the Bravo network seems fit to punish us further — with Season 2 of “Southern Charm New Orleans.”

While no formal announcement has been forthcoming, the worst has been confirmed by the New Orleans Office of Cultural Economy: Film New Orleans permitting department. “Southern Charm New Orleans” Season 2 has been filming around the city. The filming permit states the filming dates as Oct. 13 to Dec. 17. 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 »