Aug 272015
 
Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For many New Orleanians life has never been the same since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, and their sense of community. Katrina was an experience they do not want to relive on this or any other anniversary. For them, the grief process is ongoing. African Americans especially feel the rules were stacked against them, making their recovery even harder. Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in case you’ve been locked in a closet for the past few weeks and have thus been spared the maudlin, self-indulgent navel-gazing of every commentator that comes down the pike.

For some, Katrina was an opportunity seized. The guiding narrative is that of a city in decline that took advantage of adversity and emerged stronger. It’s a characterization of Katrina that’s equal parts appalling and inaccurate. We are not in a better position as entire swaths of neighborhoods lay in ruin and our population is greatly reduced. Continue reading »

Aug 202015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to do a better job of estimating the risks of flooding around the U.S. With the upcoming 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – much of whose destruction was caused by poorly engineered and maintained levees – we naturally think about the heavy losses to our region, what it has taken to rebuild, and all the people who died or have not been able to return. Continue reading »

Aug 142015
 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and property owner Ruppert Kohlmeier (seated, front row) listen to a question from the audience at the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association meeting Thursday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and property owner Ruppert Kohlmeier (seated, front row) listen to a question from the audience at the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association meeting Thursday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Just when the Irish Channel had come to accept that the little plot of land on Constance Street just off Magazine is not a park, on Tuesday — through the most tortured machinations of New Orleans bureaucracy — it became a park.

Of course, the little patch of ground is still not really a park. But what it will become after it stops being not-a-park remains stubbornly unclear, leading to a heated discussion Thursday night among the property owner, the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. Continue reading »

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Aug 132015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s no secret to political insiders that State Treasurer John Kennedy has his eyes set on David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat if Vitter is elected governor. Vitter would be in a unique position to recommend his successor and could easily select Louisiana’s popular Republican State Treasurer. Kennedy is now running a television commercial that depicts himself as a statesman worthy of voters’ support. Kennedy is also starting to be a stand-in for Vitter, defending the U.S. Senator on several tough issues. We should all expect more of that coziness as the campaign continues. Continue reading »

Aug 102015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Housing costs have been rising to unsustainable levels in New Orleans as the market struggles to increase supply to satisfy the demand. Alas, not everyone is sanguine about the ways in which demand is being met.

First, there is infill development, i.e., building housing on vacant lots in existing neighborhoods. However, in the most popular New Orleans neighborhoods, opportunities for development are scarce and developers are starting to build on smaller, irregular lots. Continue reading »

Aug 062015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Today’s debate at the New Orleans City Council is another symbolic step in the long-term struggle for New Orleans’ working poor to earn the living wage they deserve to support their families.

Though New Orleans has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Hurricane Katrina as well as an influx of skilled young professionals, we still rank second in income inequity among 300 U.S. cities. In fact, income disparity in New Orleans has increased in recent years, according to the New Orleans Data Center. Continue reading »

Aug 032015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Trust me, I’m a federal prosecutor.” You can almost hear the words come from his mouth. Sure enough, with his latest initiative, U.S. Attorney Louisiana Kenneth Polite is asking us for a great deal of trust.

Polite recently announced a bold plan for reducing gun violence in New Orleans. He proposed a joint effort between his office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Orleans Police Department, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Crimestoppers, to investigate and prosecute federal gun crimes.

At first blush, this sounds like exactly what gun-rights advocates have been crowing for. Authorities often seem to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to enforcing existing gun laws, leading to calls for more burdensome regulation.

Alas, it rapidly became clear that Mssr. Polite’s plan is not something that law-abiding gun owners will be sanguine about. Continue reading »

Jul 312015
 
McKinley "Mac" Phipps, Jr. at Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility, 2015. Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which

McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr. at Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility, 2015. Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which he maintains his innocence. (photo courtesy of Angelique Christina)

Tyree Worthy

Tyree C. Worthy

When I graduated from Loyola three years ago, I had plenty of people to thank: professors, advisors, friends and close family — the usual. There was one unlikely person who actually wasn’t there during my school days at all but deserved as much thanks as anyone: my cousin, McKinley “Mac” Phipps Jr., a well-known New Orleans rapper who has been incarcerated since I was 10, and I realized I needed to write him and tell him how much of a motivational force he had become in my life.

Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which he maintains his innocence. But now, amid serious questions about the testimony that convicted him under former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, Mac’s legal team is actively working to have him released much sooner than that, according to a recent report from The Advocate’s Sara Pagones. Continue reading »

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Jul 302015
 

By Social Work Students United for Reproductive Freedom at Tulane University

As Social Work students, we are concerned about the deceitful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides vital health care services to 2.7 million Americans each year. In Louisiana alone, Planned Parenthood annually provides 16,000 visits in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans for services that include birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and treatment, and other preventative healthcare such as much-needed sexual health education. Continue reading »

Jul 302015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

If Saturday night’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner is any indication, Louisiana Democrats feel their time is coming again soon. Recent polls show State Rep. John Bel Edwards neck ‘n neck with U.S. Senator David Vitter. “We can only go up from here,” Edwards told the packed ballroom. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is saving his money for the run-off in the Lt. Governor’s race and presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders delivered his fiery brand of liberalism to a large, enthusiastic, stomping, waving, cheering crowd at the Pontchartrain Center Sunday. Continue reading »

Jul 292015
 
The old Carrollton courthouse, photographed during an Audubon Charter School event in 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file)

The old Carrollton courthouse, photographed during an Audubon Charter School event in 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file)

After more than a dozen speakers took the microphone at a forum dedicated to saving the Carrollton Courthouse on Wednesday night, a common theme emerged from their comments: The best future for the landmark structure is some sort of public use.

Some described a new community center or an expanded library, perhaps to replace the nearby Nix branch. Others mentioned museums about the history of public education, of the city of Carrollton, or even New Orleans music. If not that, then flexible museum space, they said, where the city’s other museums could rotate exhibits. The large space could host city archives or recreation offices, they said, and its grounds would be perfect for park space with the crumbling old temporary buildings removed.

The question looming over the courthouse’s fate — and likely defining it — is who will actually own the building. And to that question, no answers emerged Wednesday night. Continue reading »

Jul 282015
 
Attendees of the Maple Street Dishcrawl in July 2014 sample the fare at Little Tokyo, a Japanese restaurant in a space occupied by a college bar just a few years ago. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Attendees of the Maple Street Dishcrawl in July 2014 sample the fare at Little Tokyo, a Japanese restaurant in a space occupied by a college bar just a few years ago. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Zach Brien)

Whether you call it a “crackdown” or a “cleanup,” there is no doubt that Maple Street has changed dramatically over the last five years amid intense scrutiny by New Orleans city officials.

Now, a debate over whether the City Council should continue to have oversight over whether new restaurants on Maple Street are allowed to sell alcohol has split the neighborhood association and local businesses, with residents on both sides.

Is the City Council’s traditional role as a gatekeeper for alcohol sales at restaurants a crucial element of the new peace on Maple Street, or does it give neighborhoods and their elected officials too much influence over which businesses can open? Continue reading »

Jul 232015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Scrappy New Orleans entrepreneur Kishore “Mike” Motwani’s $8.175 million purchase this week of Oz, New Orleans premiere gay dance club, this week is another sign that this often-despised self-made millionaire puts his money where his mouth is. Much to the dismay of ardent preservationists, Motwani is living the American Dream by remaking downtown New Orleans in his own image. Continue reading »

Jul 162015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With qualifying less than 60 days away, local candidates are wanting lightning to strike to drive interest and money into the fall legislative races. Will lightning strike twice for School Board member Leslie Ellison as she takes on popular State Sen. David Heitmeier? As a physician and Chair of the state senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, Heitmeier played a leadership role in the passage of medical marijuana. Continue reading »

Jul 132015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Former New Orleans mayor and textbook narcissist Marc Morial has come out in favor of Mayor Landrieu’s plan to remove four Civil War memorials located throughout the city. The erstwhile mayor, now head of the Urban League, proceeded to immediately put his foot in his mouth.

“Those symbols represent division,” Morial explained. “I don’t think Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard really had ties to the city.”

Apparently Morial’s grasp of Civil War history, even as it directly concerns the city he led for two terms as mayor, is just as lacking as his humility. While Lee had no major ties to New Orleans in particular, Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans and was originally buried here. Continue reading »

Jul 092015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What are the two M’s (Mitch and Marlin) fighting about now? We hear it’s FEMA dollars originally designated for Templeman II. Sheriff Marlin Gusman technically has them. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants them.

Both Landrieu and Gusman are smart, well-educated, strong-willed but obstinate elected officials, each used to getting his own way. By not endorsing former Sheriff Charles Foti two years ago, Landrieu paved the way for Gusman’s re-election and this current issue. Continue reading »

Jul 032015
 

Dr. Ken Roy

Dr. Ken Roy

By Ken Roy, M.D.

The Louisiana legislature, in its wisdom, passed Senate Bill 143 “Medical Marijuana” in both houses of the legislature, and that bill has now received the signature of the governor. This is a sad day for science, a sad day for medicine and a sad day for the State of Louisiana.

At issue is an end run effort to introduce legal “medical marijuana” into the State of Louisiana without addressing the question of legalization for recreational use. Although government has the right to legalize the recreational use of harmful substances, as with alcohol and tobacco, the current legislation skirts that question and proposes to introduce marijuana for use in a small number of medical conditions. Every time that has happened in other states, the initial legislation has been a “foot in the door,” and subsequent legislation, rules and practice has virtually legalized the recreational use, and massively increased the availability. Continue reading »

Jul 022015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Because our ancestors hailed from countries where freedom was not free, we firmly believe that a big part of the American Dream is the freedom to run for public office. Actually, we are eternally grateful that so many Americans in cities large and small are willing to risk their personal privacy and accept inevitable criticism while articulating their ideas on how our democracy should operate. Whether we like the positions candidates take or not, we still appreciate their First Amendment right to speak up – which our ancestors could not do without fear of death or reprisal.

Earlier this week we spoke with two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Republican religious rights conservative and former governor of Arkansas, who was meeting with a small group of supporters at Ralph’s On The Park. Huckabee is clearly fulfilling his vision of the American Dream. Continue reading »