Feb 262015
 
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrates his re-election with supporters on Feb. 2, 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

More than 100 donors forked over $2500 each last night for cocktails with Mayor Mitch Landrieu. On everyone’s lips was the same question: Is Mitch running? Those asking included Winston, Sheila and Ronnie Burns (he introduced Mitch), lots of WTC bidders including Darryl and Louella Berger with partners Joe Jaeger and Roger Ogden; Paul Woodward; Pres Kabacoff, former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy and Edward Boettner; and Al Thompson and Arnold Baker with their spouses. Continue reading »

Feb 232015
 

Owen Courreges

Another week passes, and another vapid, unthinking ordinance begins snaking its way through the city council.

This round, it’s a “living wage” ordinance recently introduced by Councilman Jared Brossett.  At a legislative breakfast held earlier this month, Brossett depicted the law as a palliative for New Orleans’ notorious and persistent epidemic of poverty.

“Income inequality — I don’t need to tell y’all this. It’s vast. I mean, we were compared to Zambia, as far as income inequality,” Brossett said. “That is ridiculous, as we are part of one of the richest and strongest nations on this planet.” Continue reading »

Feb 192015
 
Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free during a town-hall session on the issue in July 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free during a town-hall session on the issue in July 2014. Miller said at the time that many bar owners privately looked forward to a ban. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

By Lawson Box

While bar patrons have mixed feelings about the new citywide ban on smoking indoors, some university area bar owners say they are happy about the ordinance as they expect even more students to frequent local watering holes. Continue reading »

Feb 192015
 
Senator David Vitter rides in the Krewe of Bacchus in 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Senator David Vitter rides in the Krewe of Bacchus in 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s well known that U.S. Senator David Vitter is running away with the governor’s race at this time and we think there’s no better way to understand a man and his values than to look at where he spends his money, in this case $600,000 spent in 2014 according to Vitter’s campaign finance report.

Where does he eat in New Orleans, compared to other parts of the state? Whose coffee does he drink? Which hotels and airlines does he prefer, on campaign stops or in Florida? Continue reading »

Feb 122015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like everyone else in New Orleans, we want the NOPD to right a tightly managed, right-sized operation that keeps us all safe.  We realize it might take two or three years to really hire a full complement of officers. We can live with new officers who might not meet the highest educational standards. We are glad the Chief has thought through his management needs enough to ask the Civil Service Commission for authorization to hire a civilian assistant to drive his ball down the field.

While we were not thrilled when the NOPD’s Office of Secondary Employment was created, we really hate the fact that the office’s leadership have been keeping the majority of plum assignments for themselves, as reported by The Advocate this week.  These actions cost the rank and file money. They damage morale, decrease officer retention, and discourage new officers from accepting positions on the force. No wonder morale is an ongoing problem! Continue reading »

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Feb 112015
 

Kate Scott

Kate Scott

By Kate Scott, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

New Orleans has a troubling legacy to overcome when it comes to the condition of its rental homes, even though more than half the City’s residents are renters. Such conditions have wide-ranging effects on everything from health to educational outcomes. Many renters find themselves having to move because they can’t get dangerous housing conditions addressed. When people have to move a lot, neighborhood stability goes down and so does public safety.

In a City where rents have skyrocketed beyond the reach of many working families, New Orleans renters deserve assurances that the homes they live in meet basic standards of quality and safety. A rental registry program would be good for New Orleans and can be designed in a way that is not overly cumbersome for the many landlords in the City that are just trying to do the right thing. Continue reading »

Feb 092015
 

Owen Courreges

Stacy Head did not appear happy this past week with her colleague on the city council, LaToya Cantrell.  Without any real warning, Cantrell announced vague plans to rapidly introduce an ordinance to create a rental inspection bureaucracy with regular inspections and a comprehensive online database.

“I reiterate my position that this ordinance is not ready for introduction next week,” Head frustratedly wrote in an email to the council. “The lightning speed with which this is moving as well as the apparent insular nature of the discussion is disconcerting.” Continue reading »

Feb 052015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Mirror, mirror on the wall…who’s the fairest of us all? Even if Governor Bobby Jindal did not suggest to artist Tommy Yow that the portrait big-time donor Henry Shane was commissioning should portray Jindal with a more fair complexion, the painting was hung in a very prominent place at the governor’s office.

While Jindal is probably not trying to lighten his skin à la Michael Jackson, the presidential candidate Jindal apparently did not mind being depicted with a more fair complexion.  Are people with lighter skin considered better, safer, more desirable, more “American”? Continue reading »

Jan 292015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

First some full disclosure: Allan has know Tom Benson since his Times Picayune days and even spent a weekend at Tom’s ranch in Texas; Allan and later Allan and Danae did consulting work for Benson; Gayle Bird Benson used to come on our cable show to raise money for St. Louis Cathedral; we attended their wedding reception ten years ago; Danae has also worked with lawyer Randy Smith on campaign events.

So, like everyone else in New Orleans, we have been closely following the Benson family feud and the obvious greed that surrounds it. Who would have thought the tenacious ninth ward graduate of St. Aloysius and Loyola-trained accountant would become the billionaire that everyone — except his other four living children, apparently — are fighting over. Continue reading »

Jan 262015
 

Owen Courreges

Author’s Note:  Owen is inconsolable this week after the passing of yet another needless, paternalistic ordinance by the New Orleans City Council.  Following a mental breakdown, Owen now believes himself to be Bland Landers, an imaginary cantankerous brother of noted advice columnist Ann Landers.  Thus, the following advice column will run today in place of Owen’s usual rantings.

Dear Bland,

My husband and I recently moved in next to a longstanding juke joint, and as we anticipated, it’s far too noisy.  Adding insult to this complete absence of injury, they’re also having music more often that they used to because the bar has become more successful (which also means more people loitering around, which makes me nervous for reasons I usually discuss in vague, coded language).  I’ve called the police out several times without warning to harass them, but nothing ever gets done.  What do I do?

– Batty in the Bywater Continue reading »

Jan 222015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Every reader of this column probably knows a woman who has used abortion as a powerful tool to help guide her body and her life choices.  National statistics consistently show that three out of 10 women have had an abortion — that’s all women, young , old, black, white, Asian and Hispanic.

We’re not sure any woman makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy easily. But it is a decision that millions of women around the world make each year and often pay the consequences emotionally for decades to come. Still, there are no medical, ethical or moral reasons strong enough to ban abortions entirely. Continue reading »

Jan 192015
 

Owen Courreges

‘Twas a clash of titans. In this corner, Mayor Mitch “the glitch” Landrieu, the scion of a Louisiana political dynasty, who has disappointed many by presiding over a sudden spike of crime in the French Quarter and a corrupt, ineffectual NOPD.

And in the next corner, Sidney “the insufferable” Torres, part-time New Orleans resident and garbage robber baron, who is always kvetching nauseatingly about any real or perceived threat to his property values. Continue reading »

Jan 152015
 

Despite the Airbnb “horror stories” — 50 frat boys packing a tiny house for a weekend of debauchery — the real danger of short-term rentals, critics say, is the evisceration of neighborhoods, where greedy landlords displace long-time tenants for the quick buck of well-heeled weekenders. As New Orleans’ residents are replaced with tourists, the businesses that once served the neighborhood lose their customer base, and they too are replaced with overpriced establishments catering to the wealthy from elsewhere.

That view, supporters of the industry counter, gets the entire picture backwards. Airbnb actually allows residents to keep their homes amid rising prices by providing them with a small but significant supplementary source of income. Meanwhile, because the residents remain at the house, they have more money to spend at their favorite neighborhood establishments — and their guests often choose to spend money at the same places, strengthening the business community. Continue reading »

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Jan 152015
 
City Councilwoman Susan Guidry reiterates her promise to continue activist Jonah Bascle's fight to make the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line accessible to the disabled at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

City Councilwoman Susan Guidry reiterates her promise to continue activist Jonah Bascle’s fight to make the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line accessible to the disabled at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting. (via nolacitycouncil.com)

When City Councilwoman Susan Guidry visited comedian and activist Jonah Bascle in the hospital last month shortly before his death at age 28, she vowed to carry his fight forward to make public transportation in New Orleans accessible to the disabled — specifically, the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.

Last week, with Bascle’s friends and supporters gathered in the City Council chambers, Guidry reiterated that she intends to make good on that promise sooner rather than later. Continue reading »

Jan 152015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Poor Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Winner of two landslide elections, seemingly one of America’s most successful and articulate mayors, architect of a New Orleans post-Katrina renaissance, he has to be wondering what hit him. It seems like his plunge from the penthouse to the outhouse took place almost overnight.

The big punch, of course, began with a sudden surge in Vieux Carre crime that quickly got completely out of control. Gangs of thugs began roaming French Quarter streets, beating people up as well as robbing them. The Vieux Carre community responded with fury, holding rallies, complaining that they were living in Landrieuville where no one is safe for even a moment. Continue reading »

Jan 142015
 
Protesters chant on the corner of Freret and Cadiz. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Protesters chant on the corner of Freret and Cadiz. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Article by Robert Morris; photos by Zach Brien

A group of local environmental activists huddled against the cold wind Tuesday night to create an audiovisual protest against a proposed expansion of an oil pipeline from Canada visible to Freret Street drivers. Continue reading »

Jan 122015
 

Owen Courreges

The NOPD is looking for a few good cops.  It just doesn’t care if they’re very smart.

In a December 29, 2014 letter to the Civil Service Commission, Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison advocated removing the requirement that police recruits obtain at least 60 higher education credits, with exceptions for those possessing prior military or law enforcement experience.

According to Harrison, all that fancy book learnin’ just ain’t necessary.  He’d prefer to emphasize “workforce training over formal classroom education.”  Furthermore, the 60-credit mandate damages “NOPD’s ability to recruit and hire qualified police officers by excluding . . . those who cannot afford a higher education.” Continue reading »

Jan 102015
 
Same-sex marriage supporters began lining up outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals before dawn on Friday to secure a seat in the courtroom. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Same-sex marriage supporters began lining up outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals before dawn on Friday to secure a seat in the courtroom. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

As expected, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made no decision on same-sex marriage in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi after hearing arguments Friday morning from attorneys on both sides of the issue in each state. Likewise, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to reveal whether it will take issue up in its spring session, which would supercede any decision by the appeals court.

But the three 5th Circuit judges — Judge Jerry E. Smith and Patrick Higginbotham, two appointees of President Ronald Reagan, and Judge James Graves, appointed by President Barack Obama — did each seem to focus on different issues in their questions during Friday’s hearings, shedding some light on which issues they felt needed more elucidation. Continue reading »

Jan 082015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Why hasn’t the Steve Scalise story died down yet? Because Rep. Scalise was less than forthright when he first spoke about the incident. Therefore, reporters and others continue to analyze the story and what it means about the Republicans’ ability to build a larger, more diverse constituency before the presidential elections.

Some things are certain. David Duke was a Republican elected official and a member of the Louisiana Legislature. That gave him respect. Other legislators secretly — or not so secretly — liked his ideas. Duke was wildly popular with white voters in Jefferson Parish and Louisiana in general, by his strong showing in the governor’s race against Edwin Edwards. Continue reading »

Dec 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll pointed out that the majority of voters were pleased with the results of this year’s midterm elections and thought the Congress — rather than President Obama — should take the lead in setting policy for the country.  Though an overwhelming majority felt that not much change in direction for the country will result from the election, the numbers are a good starting point for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 61, as he aims to clear the field in advance of a brutal campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Although there are other GOP candidates worthy of voter consideration (including Mitt Romney and Chris Christie), Bush — with his “Double B” presidential pedigree and easy access to donors — is the early favorite, ramping up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffling the GOP’s policy debate. Continue reading »

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