Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 262014
 
Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the residents of City Council District B how the city should spend their tax money Tuesday night, the answers nearly all involved streets: the holes in them, the lack of light on them, and the people who sleep on them.

Most of those problems — like all of those before the 300-year-old city — lack easy answers, and have been compounding for decades, Landrieu replied. But on at least one complaint, there is a glimmer of hope: the long-darkened streetlights along St. Charles Avenue are scheduled for repair in September. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 

Owen Courreges

I’m just going to come right out and say what everything is thinking: What the @#$% is going on with home prices in Orleans Parish?

It’s getting crazy out there. I’ve been seeing listings of renovated homes for over $300 per square foot on the edge of Central City.  A “fixer-upper” needing a “total renovation” on the edge of City Park recently hit the market for $700,000. Continue reading »

Aug 192014
 
(Via Facebook)

Mike Stagg (photo via Facebook)

Environmental activist Mike Stagg, organizer of the March from Grand Isle to the Governor’s Mansion, will discuss Louisiana’s relationship with the oil and gas industry tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 19) in a public meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church on South Claiborne. Continue reading »

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Aug 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While it’s very early in the competition to see who the Presidential nominees will be in 2016, we’ve been impressed by the energy and drive of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.

Senator Paul recently accepted an invitation to speak to an Urban League convention in Florida. Unfortunately, most of the delegates to the convention thought that inviting an arch-conservative like Senator Paul was a mistake and stayed away from the session where he spoke. Continue reading »

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Jul 242014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

“There’s just something about Mary!” exclaimed state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of Louisiana’s Democratic Party, when she introduced U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in Washington, D.C. yesterday at the Dentons Navigant Energy Outlook Series, attended by a global audience of energy officials at the National Press Club. 

Dentons, the international law firm which advises the New Orleans City Council on utility regulatory matters, operates an office in New Orleans which Carter Peterson recently joined. Other New Orleanians present included Pearlina Thomas, chief of staff to Councilman Jason Williams, chair of the Council’s Utilities Committee. Continue reading »

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Jul 222014
 

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

A proclamation from Mayor Mitch Landrieu commending Operation Save America for its service to New Orleans was issued this past weekend “in error,” city officials said Tuesday afternoon following reports that the group interrupted an Uptown church service on Sunday. Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 
An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued an official welcome this week to Operation Save America, an anti-abortion organization that interrupted an Uptown church’s prayer service with its protests on Sunday and had plans to parade the alleged remains of a fetus around Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Continue reading »

Jul 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We all know the NOPD is the primary law enforcement agency – but not the only law enforcement agency — in New Orleans. We also have the Harbor Police, the Levee Board Police, HANO Police, the OPSB Police, police forces around the college campuses, hospitals, and the private security details that neighborhood or business associations pay.

Why can’t these individuals receive the additional training necessary to increase their skill levels and become the “first responders” within their jurisdictions? With better training, they could be the primary eyes and ears in their geographic areas easing up some of the pressure on our woefully understaffed NOPD forces. Continue reading »

Jul 142014
 
Operation Save America is bringing its "Gentle Revolution" to New Orleans, according to its website. (via operationsaveamerica.org)

Operation Save America is bringing its “Gentle Revolution” to New Orleans, according to its website. (via operationsaveamerica.org)

The New Orleans Police Department’s Second District is preparing for Operation Save America anti-abortion protests planned for Uptown starting this weekend, police said at a meeting in headquarters Friday.

Operation Save America, a fundamentalist Christian conservative organization that opposes abortion, has planned a series of protests from Saturday (July 19) to July 26 that they refer to as “Battle for the Heart and Soul of New Orleans.” The movement is sparked by Planned Parenthood’s designs for a new 7,000-square-foot facility on South Claiborne Avenue that would perform abortions, according to the organization’s website. Continue reading »

Jul 142014
 

Owen Courreges

Your home is not a hotel, obviously. However, an ever-growing number of New Orleans homeowners want to run a hotel-type business on the side. With tourism booming in the midst of a generally weak economy, it’s a quick way to make some extra cash.

This is the nexus of the controversy over “illegal short-term rentals” that has been permeating local political discourse in recent months. Due to zoning and licensing laws, there’s simply no way for homeowners to rent a room out as a vacation rental. Most crucial is the fact that any lease has to be for at least 30 days (or 60 days in the French Quarter). Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It won’t be long before Mayor Landrieu will begin telling us why we need to approve one or more of his tax proposals in the fall elections. Before you get out your checkbook, we have a few ideas that will create new jobs and generate additional taxes — if the Mayor and the City Council can be a little more flexible on zoning. Continue reading »

Jul 072014
 

Owen Courreges

This time of year, when the mercury starts erupting comically out of the top of every thermometer, every New Orleanians eyes turn worriedly to their electricity bill. This is because whenever temperatures spike, so does the monthly amount we owe Entergy New Orleans, our much-maligned local electric utility.

Many people have long believed that Entergy is gouging them.  This is to be expected when bills skyrocket and people begin seeking out scapegoats. Continue reading »

Jun 302014
 

Owen Courreges

Jitney is probably a word few New Orleanians are familiar with, although historians believe that the work may have originated here.

Back in the early 20th century, systems of shared taxis, appeared in cities throughout America.  The cost for using one of these shared cabs was usually a nickel, or jitney.  The French Creole term “jeton,” which refers to a small coin or token, is widely believed to have been the inspiration for the word “jitney.”  Accordingly, the word probably came from New Orleans.

The basic scheme behind jitneys was simple:  An ordinary citizen could buy a used car or bus and run passengers around, usually far more cheaply and quickly than streetcars could.  Eventually, some jitney operators formed jitney companies and even jitney drivers’ unions. Continue reading »

Jun 272014
 

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore speaks in February at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore speaks in February at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, who has become one of Louisiana’s most prominent environmental-justice activists since his retirement from the U.S. Army, spoke Thursday night at a rally at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church against the rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington School on the 1930s-era Silver City waste dump site in Central City, where dangerous levels of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals reportedly remain in the soil. The Recovery School District says replacing the top layer of soil will be sufficient to make it safe for Walter L. Cohen High School to move in, reports Tania Dall of our partners at WWL-TV.

Continue reading »

Jun 262014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose. Continue reading »

Jun 232014
 

Owen Courreges

Nobody will ever accuse Mayor Mitch Landrieu of being creative.  Time and time again he has traveled down the same well-worn path of shifting blame to justify pursuing unpopular fiscal policies.

Most recently, Landrieu did the ol’ bait and switch by proposing cigarette and hotel tax increases that he knew he lacked the clout to get through the legislature.  Next, he turned around and pushed through authorization to double of the police and fire property tax millages, subject to approval of that proposal on the city and state ballots in the fall. Continue reading »

Jun 192014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As readers are well aware, the Tea Party is a growing anti-big government movement that seeks to change American politics by often promising to get government out of the lives of citizens – as if that is even remotely possible. Most people of our generation began their voting lives as Democrats.  We understand that when people get a little older, more successful and sometimes more conservative, they might transition from being moderate Democrats to Republicans.

That’s fine. But right-leaning Tea Party Republicans are as out-of-step with middle America as the left-leaning fringes of the Democratic party. And they certainly won’t help the Republican party attract the ever-growing number of  Hispanic, Asian and African-American voters they must have to win another presidential election.  As the voting majority nationally because more non-white each year, both parties are scrambling to embrace those voters. Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation.  Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is. Continue reading »

Jun 052014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While the Mayor is touting his successes at the Legislature, Landrieu’s only major success is getting a fall ballot initiative to increase property taxes in New Orleans. Unfortunately for Senator Mary Landrieu, it might be on the ballot at the same time as her election and could be troubling if voters strongly oppose the tax.

Just because New Orleans voters turned down the Audubon Institute’s millage doesn’t automatically mean they will oppose Mitch’s property tax increase. Everyone knows the cost of living in New Orleans has increased dramatically since Katrina. We’re just not sure voters are ready to add on another tax which would hurt property owners and renters, whose landlords would undoubtedly increase rents. Continue reading »

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