Sep 252014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

State Representative Helena Moreno has turned out to be a savvy lobbyist for issues important to women and families and easily able to cross the political aisles to get the votes she needs. That’s the sentiment of the Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Independent Women’s Organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Organization for Women, who hosted a reception in her honor, courtesy of attorney Pamela Gibbs. Continue reading »

Sep 162014
 
Dr. Andre Perry delivers the keynote address at the Rising Tide conference Saturday, Sept. 13. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Dr. Andre Perry delivers the keynote address at the Rising Tide conference Saturday, Sept. 13. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Standardized test scores may be rising in the city’s public schools, but those gains on paper do not translate into any meaningful improvements in the lives of the city’s poorest students, said former New Orleans education official and activist Dr. Andre Perry. Challenging school reformers’ beliefs that a wholesale restructuring of the education system will create a better society, Perry added that all social conditions that plague New Orleans’ poor and African-American neighborhoods still persist even after 10 years of school reforms.

The best first step the city can take to real improvements for the African-American community, Perry said, is to begin searching for a way to reconcile with the thousands of teachers who were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading »

Sep 152014
 
The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

Owen Courreges

I’ve written a lot of columns since I started to write for Uptown Messenger in January of 2011.  Sometimes I look back over them and realize: “You know, there have been some interesting developments with this since I put pen to paper.”

Accordingly, every now and again, I revisit a few old columns to provide brief updates on some of the topics I’ve written about.  Some have happy endings, some less so.

So, without further ado, I give you The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Continue reading »

Sep 112014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With the court challenge period mostly over and marginal candidates having dropped out, the hard-ball campaigns for various judgeships, the DA, and State Representative have begun in earnest.  Though several organizations like the AFL-CIO, RDO and LIFE, the group founded by former mayor Dutch Morial, completed their endorsements early, we attended three public forums in the last week – the Orleans Parish Republican and Democratic Executive Committees and the Independent Women’s Organization — to get a first-hand look at all the remaining candidates.

Last night’s contest at OPDEC (the Democrats) was a real slug fest with numerous candidates hurling allegations of impropriety at each other which made that crusty audience gasp.  One of the moderators, Jason Coleman, found himself inviting candidates up for the next round, as if it were a boxing match. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
Sep 042014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters. Continue reading »

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 »

 Comments Off
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 »

 Comments Off
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 »

 Comments Off
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 »