Feb 142019
 

Diana Bajoie (third from left) was recently honored for her many contributions. Attendees included Mayor LaToya Cantrell and former elected officials Irma Muse Dixon, Cynthia Willard Lewis, Renee Gill Pratt and Cynthia Hedge Morrell. (submitted photo by Elijah Brown)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Diana Bajoie smiled broadly when the Downtown Development District’s Kurt Weigle touted $500 million dollars of construction permits issued in 2018. First as the area’s State Representative and later as State Senator, Bajoie delivered billions in capital outlay funds for the Morial Convention Center, LSU Health Sciences Center, the Port of New Orleans and many other organizations which laid the foundation for the New Orleans economy that citizens enjoy today. Working closely with numerous governors and legislative leaders, it was Bajoie’s task to gather support across party and geographic lines. Continue reading »

Feb 072019
 

The building at 820-822 Baronne Street. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Preservationists Mike and Bettye Duplantier bought a run-down historic town house at 820 Baronne in 1978 and enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood’s transition from skid row to prime South Market District real estate. Little did they know that 40 years later a well-meaning young couple would dream of converting the spacious adjoining town house at 822 Baronne into a 10 to 12-room boutique hotel with lobby bar and courtyard. Both buildings share a common attic. Continue reading »

Jan 312019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer made a wise choice in his selection of former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams, 45, to deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address February 5. A rising star who narrowly lost a bid for governor in 2018, Abrams preached a vision of prosperity and equality that resonated with voters and donors. As a rebuttal speaker to President Trump, Abrams represents three important target audiences Democrats must stitch together – she is an African-American female, under the age of 50, and progressive — rather than liberal-to-a-fault, like many of the party’s fiery new faces. Continue reading »

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Jan 242019
 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With little fanfare last July, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu created the E Pluribus Unum Fund which is serving as a fundraising vehicle to stay in the public eye — while contemplating a future in Washington, D.C. where the fund is based. “We are better together than we are apart,” the fund’s website (unumfund.org) declares.

With an initial focus on the American South, EPUF’s vision is to bring people together around common purpose, shared responsibility and opportunity rather than being divided by anger, hate and fear. Issues to be addressed include race, equity, economic opportunity and violence, as well as explore an institute for racial reconciliation, Landrieu told New York Times columnist Charles Blow in a recent interview about his often-discussed Presidential prospects. Landrieu is also serving as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics this spring. Continue reading »

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Jan 182019
 

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) poses for a social-media video with members of the Eleanor McMain choir after speaking at Xavier University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Widely viewed as a top contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker told thousands of New Orleans high school students on Friday morning that they have the power to bring about the next generation of social changes in America.

“The opposite of justice is not injustice,” Booker said Friday morning at Xavier University. “It’s apathy and indifference.”

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Jan 172019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Even though the effects of the unpopular federal shutdown — now the longest in U.S. history — are playing out in cities and towns across America, Republicans are determined to elect more local and statewide officials in Louisiana and other Southern states. Dubbed the start of the 2020 election season, this weekend’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference at the Pontchartrain Center will serve as a rallying point for more than 1,000 GOP faithful, elected officials, and prospective candidates — especially Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, who have already entered the race against Gov. John Bel Edwards, and former Congressman John Fleming who is said to be considering the same race. GOP candidates down-ballot in the 2019 legislative and local races need a strong slate of contenders for statewide offices to guard against voter apathy. Continue reading »

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Jan 152019
 

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison (left) congratulates newly-appointed Second District Commander Shaun Ferguson with a handshake during a community meeting in 2016 at Touro Infirmary. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Commander Shaun Ferguson — who spent much of his 21-year-career in the New Orleans Police Department in leadership roles in Uptown districts — is Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s choice to be the department’s next chief. Continue reading »

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Jan 102019
 

With qualifying for the fall state-wide and legislative races just 208 days away, Carling Dinkler IV will be the first candidate to formally announce a bid for the Louisiana Legislature — State Representative District 91 — tomorrow evening at Propeller. Dinkler will have big shoes to fill if he succeeds in replacing the popular but term-limited Walt Leger. “I am humbled and excited to announce I am running for State Representative,” Dinkler tweeted.

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A life-long New Orleanian who lives with his wife Ayame and young daughter in Uptown’s Marlyville neighborhood, Dinkler is currently vice president of business development at Enhanced Capital, a firm that helps secure historic preservation tax credits. He also plays a role in the firm’s governmental relations efforts. Continue reading »

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Jan 032019
 

Assessor Erroll Williams is joined at his swearing-in by Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Judge Robin Guarrusso, Judge Terri Love and former Sheriff Paul Valteau. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

When the 2020 tax rolls open in August, 2019 Assessor Erroll G. Williams is predicting “substantial changes” for properties located in many of New Orleans prime neighborhoods including Uptown, the Lakefront, the French Quarter and the CBD.

Overall, property tax will increase in those neighborhoods as well as the Marigny, Bywater, Treme and Gentilly but could well decrease in New Orleans East and Algiers (except for Algiers Point) where property values – including in the prestigious English Turn neighborhood – have been trending downward. Continue reading »

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Dec 272018
 

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise shares a laugh with the new president of Loyola University, Tania Tetlow. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With the inauguration of Mayor LaToya Cantrell and assertive female City Council members along with election of 125 women members of Congress and governors across the U.S., 2018 was another milestone year for women. Power is shifting, albeit slowing. There is no going back. But we wouldn’t call 2018 the “Year of the Woman” because gender inequality is still so prevalent. Continue reading »

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Dec 132018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

District 1 Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta and former District 3 Congressman Charles Boustany – both Republicans – are said to be considering the 2019 race for governor against Governor John Bel Edwards. Two other Republican candidates have already announced – Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and District 5 Congressman Ralph Abraham, a physician and former veterinarian. Continue reading »

Dec 092018
 

(Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com archive)

The Touro-Bouligny Security District received overwhelming support Saturday, when 91 percent of voters within the security district pressed “yes” to continue the paying the additional millage for the next eight years.

The ballot containing two runoff contests and a city referendum drew only about 14 percent of voters citywide, but 21 percent of voters in the 10 precincts making up the Touro-Bouligny Security District showed up to vote, despite the rain. Of those voters, 385 chose to continue the additional property tax and 37 wanted to end it.

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Dec 072018
 

State Senate President John Alario, criminal defense attorney Mike Fawer and Claude Kelly, who heads up the Indigent Defenders program at federal court, pose for a photo. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Surrounded by dozens of family, friends, and public officials, legendary criminal defense lawyer Michael Fawer unveiled his new memoir, “From The Bronx To The Bayou,” on Tuesday evening at Martine Chaisson Gallery. In concise, easy-to-read chapters that cover nearly every major case he ever handled, Fawer relives the hits and misses of almost 60 years representing some of Louisiana and Mississippi’s most colorful figures including Edwin Edwards, Aaron Mintz, Charles Evers, and Chief Judge Walter Nixon. Now in his early 80’s and on the verge of retirement, Fawer’s life has been his work. He tried more than 125 criminal cases to verdict and argued more than 25 appeals. Continue reading »

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Nov 292018
 

2018 Quality of Life Survey includes City Council, crime, affordable housing, traffic cameras and more

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has a 57 percent job approval rating overall, according to the 2018 Quality of Life Survey conducted by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center. The survey, known as the UNO Poll, also found that Orleans Parish residents consider crime to be the biggest problem facing the parish, and nearly half of New Orleans residents approve of the job the City Council is doing.

Mayor Cantrell Job Approval Rating 2018

Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s job approval results from the UNO Survey Research Center’s 2018 Quality of Life Survey (via UNO)

The survey of 500 Orleans Parish voters and 500 Jefferson Parish voters took place from Oct. 17 to Nov. 5. There is a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percent. Continue reading »

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Nov 292018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As President Trump and Melania travel today to the G-20 Summit in Argentina and a one-on-one meeting with Putin, he will be plotting how to stay close to his imaginary friends like Saudi Arabia and Paul Manafort and continue to create havoc for his current perceived enemies including humiliated Detroit automakers, thousands of poor immigrants crowded at the Mexican border, and the Chinese who are blamed with repeatedly stealing American technology and intellectual property. In the meantime business leaders nationwide and in New Orleans have been calling for an end to the trade wars and stability of interest rates which had affected the markets.

Closely watching all these developments is Louisiana’s freshman U.S. Senator John Kennedy who is primed to announce his candidacy for Governor against John Bel Edwards. Yesterday evening respected pollster Bernie Pinsonat refused to reveal the specifics of his new poll on the race, which will be released today. Reading between the lines, it’s easy to assume that Kennedy is extremely popular with urban and rural voters which will make him a tough competitor for the Deep South’s only Democratic governor. Continue reading »

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