May 272016
 
Libertarian Presidential candidate Austin Peterson (center) speaks at an event at NOLA Brewing on Tuesday, May 23. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Libertarian Presidential candidate Austin Peterson (center) speaks at an event at NOLA Brewing on Tuesday, May 23. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A flurry of new polls drew widespread attention this week showing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a dead heat in the general election, but that focus on the Republican and Democratic frontrunners overlooked another key feature of the polls: Americans’ deep dissatisfaction with that choice from the two major parties.

ABC News found that “44 percent say they’d want a third-party candidate to run;” NBC News recorded that 47 percent of registered voters “would consider a third-party candidate;” and CBS News found that between Trump and Clinton, 52 percent of voters “would like other choices.” Continue reading »

May 262016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Sheriff Marlin Gusman has the desire, innate ability and intelligence to operate the Orleans Parish jail but what he lacks, according to the federal government’s lead court-appointed monitor, is the basic knowledge needed to run a big-city jail and institute best practices in corrections management. This is an especially damaging statement considering Gusman has held the position for ten years. Continue reading »

May 232016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Long ago, the law respecting the idea of sanctuary was embedded in British common law. Fugitives would be immune from arrest in sacred places, such as places of worship. You’ve probably seen a movie where some neer-do-well runs into a church with police on his heels and yells “sanctuary,” as though he’s discovered some trump card against getting caught.

However, sanctuary wasn’t quite the unequivocal boon to absconding felons as it would first appear. If he made it inside a church, the fugitive would then have 40 days to surrender to secular authorities or confess their crimes and be subject to forfeiture of their worldly possessions and permanent exile, i.e., “abjure the realm.” Continue reading »

May 192016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Republican State Rep. Kenny Havard’s proposed “joke” amendment to Senate Bill 468 mandating that strippers be no older than 28 years of age or weigh no more than 160 pounds is just the latest example that many male elected officials still haven’t figured out that women deserve respect, let alone equal pay for equal work. Continue reading »

May 162016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

I’ve said time and time again: Those who most vocally claim to care about the poor and disenfranchised in our society actually tend to do the most damage to them. Many wealthy liberals want to have their cake and eat it too; to support laws and regulations that superficially appear to help those less fortunate, but conveniently push them away and make their lives worse. Continue reading »

May 122016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Will Mayor Landrieu’s vocal support of a federal takeover at the Orleans Parish Prison be the final encouragement Judge Lance Africk needs to pull the trigger on receivership? Gusman filed his response to the Justice Department’s complaint yesterday which basically said he had not been given enough time or resources to significantly address the many issues at hand.

Under receivership, the federal government will appoint a seasoned correctional official to administer violence and mismanagement issues. Gusman would continue to serve as Sheriff but his hands would basically be tied. Continue reading »

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May 092016
 
Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, speaks to the party's Louisiana state convention in 2014 in New Orleans. (Photo courtesy of Bruce France, brucefrance.com)

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, speaks to the party’s Louisiana state convention in 2014 in New Orleans. (Photo courtesy of Bruce France, brucefrance.com)

Two Tuesday primaries ago, after a rash of losses in large states on the Atlantic seaboard prompted the media to pronounce the Bernie Sanders campaign over, presidential candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party took to Twitter to invite Sanders to “build the revolution to last outside the rigged two-party system.”

Around 8 p.m. this past Tuesday, just as Ted Cruz was announcing that he would drop out of the race for the Republican nomination, Google recorded a sudden spike in searches for “Libertarian Party.” And two days later, longtime Republican strategist Mary Matalin made national headlines by announcing that she had changed her registration to Libertarian.

As Democrats and Republicans prepare to nominate two historically unpopular candidates, has the moment finally arrived for these third parties to give Americans another choice?

“Third parties tend to be most successful in times of economic concern,” said Brian Brox of the Tulane University department of political science. “When people are feeling economic dislocation, when they’re feeling economic anxiety, that’s when they’re most open to broader possibilities than just the steady state of Republicans and Democrats.” Continue reading »

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May 092016
 
The Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard statue is located on Esplanade Avenue near the entrance of New Orleans City Park (Photo courtesy of James/Flickr).

The Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard statue is located on Esplanade Avenue near the entrance of New Orleans City Park (Photo courtesy of James/Flickr).

Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

I’m not sure that you could ever find two political figures more disparate than Mayor Mitch “Sinkhole” Landrieu and Pierre T. G. Beauregard.

This is not to say that there aren’t similarities. Beauregard, like Landrieu, was born into a wealthy and influential family. However, unlike Landrieu, Beauregard soon established himself independently of his family name. Continue reading »

May 052016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Caroline Zetzmann Calhoun, 2016 Whitney Bank Zoo To Do Chair, and her team of 400 volunteers serving on 15 committees have been working overtime for weeks to put the final touches on May 6th’s thirty-ninth annual extravaganza which will draw 5,000 attendees and benefit Audubon Zoo’s Tropical Bird House.

The culmination of a year’s worth of cajoling corporate donors, restaurants, bars, and other sponsors, this year’s gala is expected to raise $1.2 million and serve as the match for millions more in foundation, public and private sector gifts which form the basis of Audubon Institute’s almost $50 million annual budget. Continue reading »

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Apr 282016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Instead of making his passionate plea from one of the city’s more dangerous inner city neighborhoods where residents experience crime day after day, Mayor Landrieu chose the relative safety of Tulane University and the campus police who could help protect attendees. Who was Landrieu’s real intended audience — the neighborhoods that can afford extra security or the law-abiding citizens who are afraid to let their kids play outside? Was Landrieu’s speech a positioning statement for his future in the Clinton administration? Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Charter schools are big business in New Orleans. They basically operate in their own world and are answerable not to the voters but only to their individual boards, each of which is like a mini OPSB.

Charter school organizations can hire whomever they want, pay whatever salaries they want, and purchase supplies and equipment from vendors of their own choosing. As the more successful charter school organizations get the opportunity to start up (or take over) additional schools, their fiefdom grows. Continue reading »

Apr 142016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The voters’ rejection of Mayor Landrieu’s tax proposal to fund additional police officers and pay firefighters’ back pensions was not a vote against the need for the tax but a clear sign of voter dissatisfaction and mistrust of Mayor Landrieu’s public safety policies and leadership. While the mayor obviously needs to address that anger, new sources of funding are still desperately needed if devastating cuts are to be avoided.

Landrieu and the City Council could shore up our tax base by ensuring New Orleans becomes the next American city to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A “sin tax” on the purchase of carbonated soft drinks is on the books in many countries around the world including France, Barbados and Mexico, where consumption of sodas declined after the tax was enacted. Continue reading »

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Apr 112016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

On Saturday, around 11:30 p.m., former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was driving through my neighborhood. He was with his wife, Racquel. As he approached Felicity Street while driving eastbound on Sophie Wright Place, he was allegedly rear-ended by one Cardell Hayes.

Hayes and Smith exited their respective vehicles and got into a heated argument. Hayes pulled a gun, at which point Smith ostensibly turned. Hayes then sprayed out a hail of bullets, hitting Smith in his back and right torso. Smith bled out at the scene. Raquel was struck in her right leg.

Smith was much beloved in New Orleans, and this senseless act of violence has thus struck a chord with many. A makeshift memorial appeared Sunday near the scene of the shooting. Continue reading »

Apr 072016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Now serving his eleventh year as Orleans Parish’s top jailer, Marlin Gusman could easily be called the “Teflon Man”. Whether being attacked by the Legislative Auditor, Federal Judge Lance Africk, the consent decree monitors, Mayor Landrieu, the City Council or even the VOTE (Voice of The Ex-Offender) organization, the criticisms just roll off him. Continue reading »

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Apr 062016
 
Speakers at the ACLU religious liberty forum were (from left) historian John Barry, Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, and Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Speakers at the ACLU religious liberty forum were (from left) historian John Barry, Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, and Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Although Mississippi has just passed a law allowing the denial of many services to gay people under the name of religious freedom, Gov. John Bel Edwards is poised to rescind a similar order in Louisiana by his predecessor, Bobby Jindal.

While the proponents of such laws describe them as essential to protecting the religious faiths of their constituents, these efforts actually misrepresent the idea of long-cherished American ideal of religious freedom as a tool of discrimination, said panelists at a forum sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Orleans on Wednesday night.
Continue reading »

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Apr 042016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

New Orleans is not a kind place to renters. Last week, CNN/Money named our fair city one of the worst cities for renters in the U.S. Last year, the Atlantic opined about the “myth” of New Orleans’ affordability, highlighting our low wages, increasing rents, and lack of habitable housing units. In general, the press has been rather negative of late.

Worst of all, we can’t say it isn’t true. Continue reading »

Mar 312016
 
Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Based on the past week’s nasty exchange between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz about their respective wives, do the Republican presidential candidates really think of women as “objects to ogle or protect” as a New York Times columnist suggested? Or do the GOP contenders recognize female voters to be the savvy constituency that will decide the outcome of this year’s presidential race? Continue reading »

Mar 302016
 
James Carville speaks about the 2016 presidential election in Rousell Hall at Loyola University as part of the Ed Renwick lecture series. Carville, a Democrat, and Matalin, a Conservative, are two prominent speakers in their respective political circles. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

James Carville speaks about the 2016 presidential election in Rousell Hall at Loyola University as part of the Ed Renwick lecture series. Carville, a Democrat, and Matalin, a Conservative, are two prominent speakers in their respective political circles. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Mary Matalin speaks in Rousell Hall at Loyola University as part of the Ed Renwick lecture series. Carville, a Democrat, and Matalin, a Conservative, are two prominent speakers in their respective political circles. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Mary Matalin speaks in Rousell Hall at Loyola University as part of the Ed Renwick lecture series. Carville, a Democrat, and Matalin, a Conservative, are two prominent speakers in their respective political circles. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

While neither Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders are likely to win the Presidential election, the voter anger that has propelled both outsider’s campaigns will persist until Washington can come to terms with Americans’ sense of distrust after watching institution after institution fail, predicted veteran political strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin in a fast-moving, free-wheeling conversation about the election Thursday at Loyola University. Continue reading »