May 232019
 

Abortion-rights advocates rally in New Orleans on Wednesday against the bills in the state Legislature. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As the Louisiana Legislature prepares to pass one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the U.S., many pro-choice women are stunned by how the pendulum has swung to the right after more than 20 years of safe, legal abortions. Though abortion-rights advocates around the country initially dismissed the notion of life beginning with a fetal heartbeat, the concept of third trimester abortions eventually became abhorrent to the majority of voters. Proponents of Louisiana’s legislation have set the stage for a fight that liberals and progressives cannot win. Continue reading »

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May 162019
 

Water flows through the 800 block of Baronne Street on Sunday morning. Many New Orleans neighborhoods and business areas flooded after the early morning storm. (Danae Columbus, Uptown Messenger)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Sewerage & Water Board Director Ghassan Korban was very clear in his remarks at the Bureau of Governmental Research on Tuesday morning. When it rains as hard and fast as it did early Sunday, May 12, expect flooding. Our antiquated drainage system just can’t keep up.

Like thousands of New Orleanians, we spent Sunday mopping up flood residue and drying out our cars. Guests at the neighboring short-term rentals, caught off-guard, stood in line for our shop vac. Korban was pleased with our collaborative efforts. He believes in personal responsibility and that citizens should help each other. This includes neighbors cleaning catch basins as the front line in protecting their most important assets. Continue reading »

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May 092019
 

Sheriff Joe Lopinto, right, receives a Certificate of Appreciation from HDF founder Mike Weinberger. (courtesy of the Home Defense Foundation)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With gun violence always in the spotlight, the New Orleans-based Home Defense Foundation honored Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III Tuesday night for his commitment to keeping residents and business owners safe. “The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office does not prevent crime; we solve crimes quickly to prevent the next crime,” Lopinto said.

Lopinto’s office serves over 400,000 residents, more than any other parish in Louisiana, and ranks as the 15th largest sheriff’s jurisdiction in the U.S. “We make sure to solve crimes quickly to prevent retaliation,” he said. One tool that helps Lopinto reach that goal is the JPSO’s in-house crime lab, the only facility of its kind in the region. Though the lab is expensive to operate, it provides immediate results. In just minutes, analysts “put the pieces together” that often lead to a prompt arrest.

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May 032019
 

Surrey’s Cafe & Juice Bar served its Costa Rican breakfast, with two eggs over brown rice beans with fresh avocados cheddar and pico. (Kristine Froeba)

The one thing every New Orleanian can agree one is that someone is always coming to visit. We know our city is fabulous — filled with unique culture, food, architecture and music. We also are tasked with being tour guides several times a year. This is the list I hand out when they have to find their own way.

It’s not that we — and I, as a professional tour guide — don’t love showing off our city, but sometimes, we’re busy. I, for one, gave up the Big Ass Beer strolls and Bourbon Street a few decades ago. Or at least I say I have, and cross my fingers I can avoid it. Locals know Royal is the only street worth strolling anyway.

However, in the interim, as they will, the friends, associates, alumni, co-workers and relatives, want to know where to go on their first visit to New Orleans. Here is my quick and dirty mostly Uptown-centric cheat-sheet: Continue reading »

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May 022019
 

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee will soon be electing two people to join its ranks due to Council District B vacancies created by the deaths of longtime members Felicia Kahn and Rev. Samson (Skip) Alexander. Under OPDEC’s rules, only the remaining twelve members of the District B caucus are eligible to vote. They include Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her husband Jason along with Dana Peterson, husband of State Senator Karen Carter Peterson.

OPDEC is the local arm of the state’s Democratic Party. Its members are usually elected once every four years by a vote of all registered in the council district. One man and one woman will be elected. Continue reading »

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Apr 252019
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell rides in the  Zulu parade on Mardi Gras 2019. The tradition was started by Mayor Dutch Morial’s son, Mayor Marc Morial. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Without really caring who she runs over along the way, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been plowing through such issues as increasing revenues from traffic cameras and how to fund the city’s long neglected infrastructure. In watching her especially feisty style, I can’t help comparing Cantrell to one of my favorite mentors — former Mayor Dutch Morial.

By any standard, Morial was pugnacious and always ready to go to battle for causes he believed in – and there were many. The word “compromise” was often missing from his vocabulary. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and would go to almost any means — including canceling Mardi Gras parades during the 1979 police strike — to reach his goals.

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Apr 182019
 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center in 2015. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden in the first major national presidential poll of 2019 Democratic contenders, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu should join the race for President. When Landrieu first left office, rumors circulated that he was interested in running, but only if Biden did not make the race.

A year later, Biden is slipping while other fresh-face candidates like South Bend Indiana Mayor Peter Buttigieg are grabbing the spotlight. Released by Emerson College on Monday, the poll included 20 potential candidates. Respondents selected Sanders as their first choice (29%), Biden as their second choice (24%) and Buttigieg as their third choice (9%). Continue reading »

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Apr 112019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The soaring crime rate among juveniles is just another indication that most New Orleans schools are not adequately serving the hardest-toreach children. Juveniles often turn to crime because of poverty, undesirable living conditions, minimal parental involvement, and an overall lack of opportunities. Providing the comprehensive wrap-around services required by the many New Orleans children who have learning or behavioral problems is simply not a priority in today’s educational system. Continue reading »

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Apr 042019
 

State Sen. J.P. Morrell addresses supporters of his efforts to ratify the ERA in the 2019 legislative session. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Hundreds of women from across Louisiana are expected to travel to Baton Rouge on Tuesday for an ERA march and lobbying day, an opening salvo in the effort for Louisiana to be the critical 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Ellie Smeal, staunch ERA supporter and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, is speaking at a legislative kickoff luncheon Sunday in Baton Rouge sponsored by the American Association of University Women Louisiana, a long-time supporter of the legislation.

“Now is the right time to have the ERA conversation in Louisiana,” said state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, who is spearheading the state’s ratification process. “Women should be valued the same as men. Let’s move beyond partisan, old-school politics.” Continue reading »

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Mar 282019
 

Lt Gov. Billy Nungesser chats with former LSU linebacker Devin White, a top 2019 draft pick, at last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While most state officials are spending this week preparing for the upcoming legislative session, yesterday Louisiana’s 54th Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser participated in a White House roundtable in Washington, D.C., on the nation’s economy and trade led by National Economic Council Director and Deputy Assistant to the President Larry Kudlow.

He attended a dinner at the Embassy of Canada where he discussed cultural similarities and additional air-travel opportunities. Today he is moderating a panel on changes to veterans’ health care and will be meeting privately with the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany for more tourism talks. Continue reading »

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Mar 212019
 

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

There are many excellent health care providers in the New Orleans area. One stands out for its almost 200-year commitment and unique wrap-around services – the Daughters of Charity. First at the now-shuttered Charity Hospital and today through 10 neighborhood health centers including one located at 3201 S. Carrollton, the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, or DCSNO, strive to eradicate health care disparities by providing affordable, high-quality care to children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

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Mar 142019
 

Council on Aging Director Howard Rodgers with seniors William Larce and Barbara Bloodworth at the Carrollton Hollygrove Multi-purpose Center. (Danae Columbus, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

On Saturday, March 30, New Orleanians will vote on a 2-mill property tax that would fund services for seniors. If approved, the new millage is expected to generate $6.6 million annually. The “average” New Orleans homeowner would pay less than $100 per year.

I am one of almost 80,000 people aged 55 and over who live in Orleans Parish. Together we represent almost 25 percent of the city’s population. Experts agree that older adults are the most under-served population in our community. Though I have never participated in any of the programs offered seniors by the New Orleans Council on Aging or even through my church, I know how vital they are to the health and welfare of those served. Continue reading »

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Mar 082019
 

Shrimp & Grits, Gumbo, Poboys, & Snoballs

The up-and-coming Faubourg Lafayette is the location of Café Porche & Snowbar which opened last year on Baronne Street. You may have to look twice for the red umbrellas, as the little southern Café is tucked behind a whimsical two-story Lilliputian white and blue Wendy house that operates as the café’s Snowbar (snoball stand).

Café Porche’s Seafood and Sausage Gumbo (Courtesy of Coronella Porche-Jenneford)

The modern Café has proven popular with locals and tourists and is finding its footing in the new Central City restaurant scene. It is noteworthy that the kitchen and restaurant is owned and run by a Black woman, which is still too rare in our local food scene. Continue reading »

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Mar 072019
 

Girl Scouts CEO Becky Pennington, sate Rep John Bagneris, board member Betsy Stoner and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge Morrell talk about the future of Scouting. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

In an era when young women have many more options for enrichment activities, the Girl Scouts Louisiana East, or GSLE, are embracing the challenge of serving an ever-evolving audience with new board and staff and a renewed commitment to helping girls become leaders.

The agency recently introduced a new chief executive officer, Dr. Rebecca Pennington, at a reception attended by dozens of former Girl Scouts and their supporters, including Judge Dale Atkins, state Rep. John Bagneris, Kelder Summers, Judge Robin Pittman, the Rev. Rob Courtney, Clerk of Court Chelsey Richard Napoleon, Marguerite Redwine, Brett Bonin, state Rep. Joe Bouie, Judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott, Judge Ellen Hazeur, Lyndia Jones, Jodi LaFranca, Patrice Sams-Abiodun, Maury Baker, Wayne Know and third-generation Girl Scout Jesse Smith Thomas.

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Feb 282019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A substantive prisoner re-entry program that includes rehabilitation and job training is “really critical” to reducing recidivism, said Pelican Institute for Public Policy CEO Daniel Erspamer at an YLC Leadership Luncheon last week. Pelican, a nonprofit libertarian-leaning think tank that develops data-driven policy solutions, works to bring jobs and opportunities back to Louisiana by eliminating barriers to success. It also coordinates Louisiana’s Smart on Crime business-led coalition that successfully lobbied for criminal justice reform. Since 2017, the coalition has been monitoring the implementation of the new laws and planning future steps. Continue reading »

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