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 »

Mar 292016
 
James Carville and Mary Matalin (via Loyola University)

James Carville and Mary Matalin (via Loyola University)

Political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin will discuss bizarre drama of the 2016 Presidential election in a forum Wednesday night moderated by Gambit publisher Clancy DuBos and hosted by the Loyola University Institute of Politics. Continue reading »

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Mar 242016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

OPSB Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis sent a letter to central office staff this week who were not eliminated in the first round of staff changes last summer advising them that more cuts were on the way but that they could apply for jobs remaining, if they were qualified. Even the current principals were told that their re-employment was not certain. Staff members are bracing for these inevitable changes, which will likely occur during the summer months. Continue reading »

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Mar 212016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

“You’re an idiot.”

It wasn’t much of an argument. These were the words written to me by Taylor Huckaby, a social media spokesman for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the regional transit agency serving the San Francisco Bay area. Clearly, he didn’t like to be challenged. Continue reading »

Mar 142016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

It’s not uncommon for something to sound wonderful that is ultimately a bad idea — “freemium” games, bacon-wrapped pizza, going to Bourbon Street — the list is endless. It’s easy to get whipped into a frenzy by hype or sexiness and ignore practical realities.

That’s the category to which the oft-debated commuter rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge belongs. Continue reading »

Mar 072016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Louisiana boasts many peculiarities; things that just don’t fly in most places are commonplace here. Among these, of course, are drive-through daiquiri stands.

I won’t call the drive-through daiquiri stand “the last bastion of American freedom,” but in this regulated, sanitized age, we’re running out of ramparts. Oftentimes that which makes Louisiana more free also makes us unique. Continue reading »

Mar 042016
 
Former President Bill Clinton addresses the crowd at Ashe Power House in Central City on Friday morning. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Former President Bill Clinton addresses the crowd at Ashe Power House in Central City on Friday morning. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Applying themes from his address on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last year to the national stage today, former President Bill Clinton described unity as a prerequisite to prosperity and his wife as the best candidate to fight for both before a crowd of New Orleans supporters in Central City on Friday morning.

“The first thing is, you’ve got to elect a President who sees everybody,” Clinton said. “You can’t fix a problem or redeem a promise for someone you don’t see.” Continue reading »

Mar 032016
 
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, left, speaks at the Katrina 10 commemoration on Aug. 29, and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson rides in the Krewe of Femme Fatale during Mardi Gras 2016. (Richmond photo by Zach Brien of UptownMessenger.com, Peterson photo by Robert Morris of UptownMessenger.com)

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, left, speaks at the Katrina 10 commemoration on Aug. 29, and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson rides in the Krewe of Femme Fatale during Mardi Gras 2016. (Richmond photo by Zach Brien of UptownMessenger.com, Peterson photo by Robert Morris of UptownMessenger.com)

Top row: Gov. John Bel Edwards and Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell; bottom row: Shane Riddle and Arlanda J. Williams. (sources: Office of the Governor, Orleans Clerk of Court, Louisiana Association of Educators, Terrebonne Parish government)

Top row: Gov. John Bel Edwards and Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell; bottom row: Shane Riddle and Arlanda J. Williams. (sources: Office of the Governor, Orleans Clerk of Court, Louisiana Association of Educators, Terrebonne Parish government)

As Saturday’s Democratic primary approaches, the majority of Louisiana’s superdelegates have already committed to cast their ballots for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, based on interviews conducted this week. Continue reading »

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Mar 032016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The recent announcement that former state senator and current chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Foster Campbell, has thrown his hat into the U.S. Senate competition is just another sign that Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana’s Democratic Party are preparing to aggressively compete against the state’s Republican Party in every race. Continue reading »

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Feb 252016
 
Ohio Gov. John Kasich meets with Louisiana voters at a town hall in Metairie. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich meets with Louisiana voters at a town hall in Metairie. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

It was almost comforting listening to presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday at a Metairie forum attended by almost 200 people. There was no bombast oratory, no inflammatory swipes at the other candidates, no threats of hell and damnation. Instead, attendees heard a sincere, even-keeled centrist who had some pretty good ideas about how to fix many of America’s problems. Continue reading »