Feb 042016
 
Sarah Slamen works at the Bernie Sanders campaign headquarters. (Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Sarah Slamen works at the Bernie Sanders campaign headquarters. (Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

With Tuesday’s surprising Iowa caucus results and attention now turning to New Hampshire, New Orleans voters are beginning to focus on Louisiana’s March 5th presidential primary. Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have made fundraising stops in the region. Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a campaign headquarters in Metairie. While Congressman Cedric Richmond and state Democratic Party chair Karen Carter Peterson are currently leading Hillary Clinton’s outreach efforts, Louisiana chairs have been named for Trump, Rubio and Kasich. Continue reading »

Jan 212016
 

Whether we live Uptown, in Uruguay or Uzbekistan, we are all impacted by oil and the global economy. Though many sectors of New Orleans economy like real estate and technology are prospering, the war in the Middle East and its related immigration crisis, China’s economic slowdown, the broad impact of the continuing drop in oil prices coupled with new state and local taxes on the horizon could squeeze many lower and middle class New Orleanians in 2016. Continue reading »

Jan 192016
 

Walt Leger

Walt Leger

State Rep. Neil Abramson

Neil Abramson

A Democratic lawmaker’s vote for a Republican as Speaker of the state House of Representatives — over a fellow Democrat in the adjacent New Orleans district — has led to a running controversy in the state’s political press and a nascent recall effort on social media. Continue reading »

Jan 152016
 
The proposed Jackson Oaks redevelopment of the former Sara Mayo hospital. (rendering by Harry Baker Smith architects, via City of New Orleans)

The proposed Jackson Oaks redevelopment of the former Sara Mayo hospital. (rendering by Harry Baker Smith architects, via City of New Orleans)

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

A last-minute decision to grant an additional 100 residential units to developers of the former Sara Mayo hospital on Jackson Avenue should have included more than a promise that 11 of them would be deemed “affordable” housing, residents of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association said Thursday. Continue reading »

Jan 142016
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Baton Rouge area residents listen President Obama’s remarks on Medicaid expansion today, we can’t help but think how strange our politics are getting. Governor Jon Bel Edwards can’t get his choice for speaker elected but at least St. Rep Walt Leger gets the consolation prize of Pro Tem. The next day Governor Edwards signs an Executive Order expanding Medicaid for a couple hundred thousand Louisiana residents who cannot afford health insurance, which made the President want to visit here this week. Who else noticed that Congressman Cedric Richmond was with the President on Air Force One? Continue reading »

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Jan 112016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

We’ve long come to expect bizarrely poor public transit in New Orleans. Nothing runs on time, streetcars are useless following a modest fender-bender, and virtually half of bus service still hasn’t been restored after Katrina.

Meanwhile, tourist lines soak up the lion’s share of capital dollars while residents who live paycheck-to-paycheck wonder whether they’ll actually be able to get to work the next day. In short, transit is a basket case.

In the midst of all of this inefficient blundering, one would at least expect that RTA could get one thing right – using technology. Continue reading »

Jan 072016
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

When the New Orleans City Council chose to honor retiring Criminal Court Judge Frank Marullo today, they did so because “we owe (him) a continuous debt of gratitude and appreciation…for his commitment and dedication.” Having first taken the bench in September, 1974 and continuously being reelected for forty years, we don’t believe any other elected official in Louisiana can make that longevity claim. Continue reading »

Dec 312015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s visit to the Gulf Coast on Saturday night will help put Louisiana’s March presidential primary into focus for many voters in our region. Trump has done an excellent job of galvanizing voters nationally who have felt disenfranchised and underappreciated over the years. He is taking advantage of their obvious anger, frustration and fear. Continue reading »

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Dec 282015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has really thrown down the gauntlet vis-à-vis his support for gun control. Next year, he plans to lobby the Louisiana legislature to pass an unconstitutional anti-gun law. Not only that, he actually expects the NRA to aid him in his endeavors. Continue reading »

Dec 242015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While many of our readers are busy making their last minute holiday preparations, we always remember December 24th as the day that one of New Orleans’ greatest champions for the African-American community – Ernest N. Dutch Morial – died 26 years ago. Morial grew up in a highly segregated society where racism was pervasive and dedicated his life to bringing racial reform.

While critics often called Morial pompous, arrogant, vindictive, and ruthless, others viewed Dutch as a confident and decisive leader and civil rights trailblazer. The son of a seamstress and cigar maker who nicknamed his son “Dutch” because he resembled the boy on the label for Dutch Boy paints, Morial played an extremely significant role in improving the lives of African-Americans in New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Dec 202015
 
Police investigate a fatal shooting in 2011 on Monroe Street just outside an elementary school while classes were in session. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Police investigate a fatal shooting in 2011 on Monroe Street just outside an elementary school while classes were in session. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

On a Thursday in late November, the entire indomitable city of New Orleans recoiled in shared horror at security video of a young medical student collapsed on the sidewalk just off Magazine Street, clutching his bleeding torso, as a hooded assailant stood over him with a gun aimed at his head. The film’s dreadful silence only amplified the menace as the gunman apparently tried to squeeze the trigger, twice, to finish off his already-incapacitated victim, giving up only when a mechanical mercy intervened and the gun refused to fire.

Two nights later, Bunny Friend park in the Ninth Ward — its almost comically benign name a memorial to a teen who died in an accident in the 1920s — became the scene of the city’s next headline-grabbing gun battle. A block party and planned music-video shoot were rent apart by a hail of gunfire, leaving 17 people wounded, and at least a half dozen people have been named as suspects as investigators try to piece together how the celebration turned to chaos.

The bloodshed continued the following weekend, when more young men’s lives would be claimed around some of the city’s most best-known places: 26-year-old Brandon Robinson killed on Bourbon Street, 19-year-old Richad Dowell on Canal Street and 19-year-old Devin Johnson near the newly opened Lafitte Greenway.

And yet, city officials continue to insist that the struggle against violent crime in New Orleans has made significant strides in recent years, and many measurements as well as newly-published academic studies back them up. But if things are getting better, why does the carnage still insist on making its way onto playgrounds, green spaces and tourist thoroughfares? If the violence is the work of a relatively small group of people, why are they so hard to stop? Continue reading »

Dec 172015
 
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

A former member of the New Orleans City Council, a high ranking NOPD officer and several uptown residents are among those who have told us that they were polled last weekend regarding Mayor Landrieu’s favorabilty and a possible third term campaign. Based on poll results, which have not been released, could Landrieu test the “3T” waters after the City Council’s expected vote today to remove several monuments? Continue reading »

Dec 142015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

If there is any justice in this world, Mayor Scrooge McLandrieu will be visited this Christmas by three ghosts to help reform him of his callous ways. A recent event certainly evinces a “bah humbug” attitude on the part of our nefarious chief executive.

On Friday, the city began a regular sweep of the homeless encampment beneath the Pontchartrain Expressway. The city removes trash and debris weekly, rectifying code violations. On this occasion a homeless man, “John,” had placed a Christmas tree next to his tent and other belongings. City workers unceremoniously hurled it into a garbage truck as trash. Continue reading »

Dec 102015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

On the fourth day of the ancient Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, President Barack Obama told an audience of 500 people that freedom can prevail over tyranny. Hope can triumph over despair. Light can prevail over darkness.

Today we are seeking the light in two divisive issues, Donald Trump’s controversial call to block the entry of all Muslim refugees to the United States, and the best solution on our very own monument controversy. Though very different, both issues are bringing out the best and worst in people and reminding us of dark times in our past. Continue reading »

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Dec 072015
 
Gloria Steinem speaks at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday afternoon. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Gloria Steinem speaks at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday afternoon. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

While violence against women is clearly repulsive on its own, its causes may also provide a window into the United States’ ongoing struggles with issues of mass shootings, police violence and even terrorist threats, said renowned feminist Gloria Steinem in an address in New Orleans on Sunday.

“The single biggest determinant of whether a country is violent inside itself or will be willing to use military violence against another country is not poverty,” Steinem said. “It’s not access to natural resources, not religion or even degree of democracy. It’s violence against females.” Continue reading »

Dec 072015
 

Gloria Steinem speaks at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Gloria Steinem speaks at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

While most of Gloria Steinem’s discussion on Sunday focused on broad issues of society and justice, the feminist author dived straight into current events when one questioner asked her about the Presidential election — mocking Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in a sarcastic monologue and expressing a touch of apprehension at the struggles ahead for Hillary Clinton. Continue reading »

Dec 072015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Whenever anybody engages me on the issue of self-defense, my mind always wanders to the case of Warren v. District of Columbia.

That case began on the morning of March 16, 1975, when two men broke down the back door of a rooming house on Lamont Street in Washington, D.C. The intruders soon encountered Miriam Douglas, a woman who lived on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter. Continue reading »

Nov 302015
 
"Treme" actor Wendell Pierce marches with students from his character's school in the Krewe of Carrollton in February 2012. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

“Treme” actor Wendell Pierce marches with students from his character’s school in the Krewe of Carrollton in February 2012. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Sometimes, you just have to sit back, watch, and eat some popcorn.

At least, that was my personal reaction to viewing the ongoing battles between local actor, producer, and businessman Wendell Pierce and local neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations. The battle started back in July when Pierce and his business partner, former mayoral candidate Troy Henry, proposed to redevelop a former auto parts store on St. Claude Avenue.

Predictably, this was met with opposition from local busybodies, a.k.a. The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA). Their objections seemed to spawn from the fact that the existing structure, which is nondescript, heavily blighted, and has been drastically modified over the years, would not be preserved. Continue reading »

Nov 262015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Though the transition is just beginning, the metro New Orleans area is off to a strong start with John Bel Edwards and his transition team. Earlier this week, the incoming governor announced his support for State Rep. Walt Leger as Speaker of the House. Though many other legislators have been campaigning for that position, it will be hard to bypass the governor-elect’s clear choice. On the Senate side, the very popular current president John Alario could well be re-elected as the consensus choice of senators. The New Orleans area also includes a member of the transition team, JP Sheriff Newell Normand, who will be a go-to man for both Democrats and Republicans wanting the new governor’s ear. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcements about the rise of armed robberies and that Councilmembers Jason Williams and Susan Guidry want to prioritize funding for 911 operators both illustrate the importance of better funding agencies involved in criminal justice.

“We are one mistake away from disaster and tragedy,” said Williams, who serves as Council President. “And it is unacceptable.” Continue reading »