Mar 262015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

There’s a battle brewing in the Oct. 24 election for Secretary of State that will pit the Republican incumbent, former State Senator and De La Salle High School graduate Tom Schedler, against LSU law professor Chris Tyson, an African-American Democrat. Continue reading »

Mar 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive.

We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Continue reading »

Mar 112015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Prologue: Each Saturday at noon on WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans, Mark Tobler’s DJ set almost always opens with John Hartford’s song “Back in the Good Old Days.”  The song is a projection of a future population residing at a city dump, and while there — though they may imbibe as a community — the topic of discussion and conversation will be remembering when things were better and wondering how things became what they are.

The 21st century has been a veritable roller coaster thus far for the Crescent City.  Storms, diaspora, growth, crime, food highs, political lows, Hollywood South, hospital hubbub, even an entrepreneurial hotbed too.  It’s downright dizzying at times.  And then there’s our blight — and the quest to remedy that scourge, often via demolition.  We as a city often decry the Big Easy brand as slipping away via noise ordinances, smoking bans, whatever legal challenges and changes that float through City Hall.  But removing the landscape in the name of the greater good?  To be sure, there’s no faster way to becoming Anywhere, USA. Continue reading »

Mar 082015
 

Bernard Noble, a 49-year-old father of seven children, is serving a 13-year sentence after an arrest for about two joints’ worth of marijuana, and Broadmoor residents rallied with New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry on Saturday on behalf of his release, according to a report by our partners at WWL-TV. Noble’s lengthy sentence is the result of habitual-offender enhancements on drug charges dating back to the 1990s, even though Orleans judges had urged a lower sentence, rally organizers say.

Mar 072015
 
Attendees held up "I Stand with Planned Parenthood" fans. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Attendees held up “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” fans. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

On Saturday, Planned Parenthood held the “Stand with Louisiana Women Rally” at the First Presbyterian Church on Claiborne and Jefferson Avenue. At the rally, city councilwomen LaToya Cantrell and Susan Guidry, doctors, student activists, religious leaders and Planned Parenthood leaders all discussed the benefits a Planned Parenthood center would provide for the New Orleans community and the opposition the center and the organization faces amongst other topics. Continue reading »

Mar 052015
 
Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Marijuana plants seized in raids on two Uptown homes in July 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo via NOPD)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Gov. Jindal continues to make drastic cuts to the state’s budget, especially in education and public safety, income from the sale and cultivation of marijuana — even medical marijuana — could begin to fill the state’s budget gap.

Already three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana, although the D.C.’s Council passed emergency legislation just yesterday to tighten up the law voters recently approved. Twenty-three states along with the District of Columbia have also legalized medical marijuana. The voters of Louisiana overwhelmingly supported the legalization of medical marijuana in a 2014 LSU poll. With tight regulation, it may also be possible that Governor Jindal could support medical marijuana, according to news reports. Continue reading »

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 »