Nov 242014
 

Owen Courreges

Aldous Huxley once wrote that “a fanatic is a man who consciously over compensates a secret doubt.”  This helps explain the bizarrely-detailed 25 page anti-smoking ordinance proposed this past Thursday by Councilwomen Latoya Cantrell and Susan Guidry.

Even I didn’t predict the staggering scope of the ordinance.  Instead of being content to simply ban most indoor smoking, already a contentious proposal, the bill seeks to ban most outdoor smoking as well and treats electronic cigarettes, which produce no smoke, the same way as traditional cigarettes.  It contains no exceptions for hookah lounges or cigar bars. Continue reading »

Nov 202014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top. 

First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu.  Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out. Continue reading »

Nov 182014
 
Cars across the street were also set ablaze in the Nov. 6 fire that displaced two families at the corner of Prytania and Constantinople. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Cars across the street were also set ablaze in the Nov. 6 fire that displaced two families at the corner of Prytania and Constantinople. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has announced a $2,500 reward for information in the fire that destroyed a New Orleans political consultant’s cars and heavily damaged his home earlier this month. Continue reading »

Nov 152014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Like other remaining Democratic candidates around the country, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu knows she must increase her support among black and white females to emerge victorious on Dec. 6. That’s why Norma Jane Sabiston, Kristin Palmer, Angele Wilson and others are again reaching out to 5,000 key women supporters statewide to build Mary’s Army, highly committed grassroots warriors who will knock doors and work phones non-stop for the next three weeks. Armed with pink t-shirts and lists of likely voters, these women clearly understand the campaign’s success rests largely on their ability to persuade voters one person at a time. Not only does the Landrieu camp need to turn out a larger number of African-American voters, they also need to convince white voters to switch from Cassidy. Continue reading »

Nov 042014
 

jewel bush

By 10:30 a.m. yesterday, the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections, I had already received three political campaign calls.

When my cell rang for the third time in an hour with a call from yet another unfamiliar phone number, I was beyond perturbed. I heard President Barack Obama’s voice and immediately hung up.

Yes, I hung up on the leader of the Free World. Continue reading »

Nov 032014
 

Owen Courreges

Election day is tomorrow.  If you’re like me, you’re relishing in the opportunity to vote for a smattering of ill-considered proposals and lackluster candidates in the vain, fleeting hope of actually making this city a better place.

However, I am also aware that there are those of you who are just short of hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the proposed state constitutional amendments.   Usually, constitutional amendments are for matters of great public import; in Louisiana, though, they tend to be a bunch of random crap.

With this in mind, I have created the following voters guide to the proposed Louisiana constitutional amendments, together with my recommendations (spoiler alert: I hate pretty much all of them). Continue reading »

Nov 012014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Danae has been on the sidelines in two current campaigns, we thought it was only appropriate that Allan — who wrote his “cloudy crystal ball” political predictions in the Times Picayune for decades — pen this column.

A very important election will be held in New Orleans and throughout America on Tuesday. What do the pundits think is going to happen? Who cares? You’re the ones who are going to the polls to vote. Your opinions are worth as much or more than some self-appointed seer who thinks he or she knows more about Louisiana politics than voters just like you.  Early voting set an all-time record. But traditional voters like Allan will still vote next Tuesday. Seize that power and help decide our political future.

Here is some information about several of the elections that will be on the ballot in New Orleans. How good are you at picking the outcomes before the polls open? Continue reading »

Oct 282014
 

jewel bush

My son was 5 years old when he made the disturbing announcement that “Cornbread” had been shot.

He told me a detailed account of Cornbread dribbling a basketball in the rain when “they” shot him — shot him in the back! Panicked at the thought that my son might have somehow witnessed a murder, I interrogated him: Who is Cornbread? Who is “they”? Where did you see Cornbread? When did you see Cornbread? Continue reading »

Oct 232014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We’re Mary Landrieu fans, so we’re used to her “Perils of Pauline” routines where she somehow squeezes out an unlikely victory at the very last instant. But in her current reelection campaign, her Road Runner gig seems to have run its course and her Republican opponents are certain that she’s ready for their cooking pot.

“This is the fourth time I’ve opposed Mary Landrieu in a U.S. Senate race and I’ve lost three times,” says Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. “So I have a lot of respect for her. But this time, everything seems to have fallen in place for us. It won’t be over until it’s over but I think that this time we may finally have her number.” Continue reading »

Oct 232014
 

Judge J. Skelly Wright

Loyola University New Orleans is holding a memorial Friday in honor of 1934 graduate, Judge J. Skelly Wright, a New Orleans native who issued the order to desegregate the New Orleans public schools in the 1950′s and was appointed to the D.C. federal circuit court of appeals by President Kennedy. In addition to the memorial event, Loyola is installing a memorial to Judge Wright in front their law school and establishing a scholarship in his name. Continue reading »

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Oct 162014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Investors in the U.S. and around the world have been getting an economic reality shock as the markets are adjusting to a new normal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen five percent in the last five days. Though certainly not the biggest loss in history, it does send a clear message that growth has been slowed in every corner of the planet — probably by “bad policy making and political inaction”, according to TIME. Continue reading »

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Oct 132014
 
A rendering by architect David Keiffer of the proposed community center in Carrollton. (via Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association)

A rendering by architect David Keiffer of the proposed community center in Carrollton. (via Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association)

As the start of construction nears on a new community center funded by a state investment of more than $1 million, members of the Carrollton neighborhood remain apprehensive about the organization chosen to operate it — despite repeated assurances from officials that this is the most effective use of the land and the money moving forward. Continue reading »

Oct 092014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For Democratic candidates in Deep South and Border States, carrying President Barack Obama on their backs is a bone-breaking load that may very well end their political careers.

There is no better example of that than the multi-talented U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu who has every right to feel exhausted from carrying the weight of the unpopular President every day, every hour and every minute. But Landrieu isn’t alone. In Arkansas, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor is also staggering under the Obama load. And, in a border state like Kentucky, Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes would surely defeat Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell if it were not for the Obama load that threatens to sink her in a race so close that the winning margin may well be one percent or less. In Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers is so far behind Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran that the race could well be considered over and settled. Continue reading »

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Oct 062014
 

Owen Courreges

It’s called the “BigBelly,” and it’s being pitched to cities across the country as a miracle of American innovation.  It’s a solar-powered trash compactor designed to replace ordinary city trash receptacles.  There is practically no green-tech buzzword that doesn’t apply to these things.

I first began seeing the BigBellies in New Orleans last year along the Canal Streetcar line.  The website Clean Technica reported in December 2012 that the city hoped to have “at least 150 solar-powered trash compactors installed,” before the Super Bowl and that, contracts and bidding permitted, “[t]his number could be expanded to 242.”

Presently, the city is planning on expanding the BigBelly receptacles to the French Quarter and Downtown Development District.   The bid date is set for October 30th at 11 a.m.  It’s happening, and it’s happening soon.

What hasn’t happened, at least as far as I can see, is proper due diligence. Continue reading »

Oct 022014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Let’s start with some full disclosure — Danae will be among the dozens of table captains at Senator Mary Landrieu’s women’s fundraising brunch later in October. It will be a star-studded affair with well more than a thousand women present — many of whom have been devoted to Mary for decades. In fact, Danae can remember walking in Broadmoor with a much younger Mary Landrieu during her first race for the Louisiana Legislature.

Fast forward a few decades to this week, when you might have heard one of the state’s leading elected officials say that he is concerned about the unwanted scrutiny and negative attention Louisiana will receive during a very divisive Senate run-off campaign. The nation’s eyes will be watching us as PACs spend millions to damage opposing candidates.

Even with Mary’s traditional luck in pulling narrow election day victories out of the proverbial rabbit’s hat, we think it will be hell-hard for her to forge a clear victory on Tuesday, Nov. 4. We savored this week’s poll that showed Mary pulling ahead of Bill Cassidy. But we also looked at the strength of Rob Maness’ numbers. With two well-financed Republicans and associated Republican PAC dollars tearing away at her, it’s hard for us to see how Mary can avoid a runoff. It also doesn’t help Mary that Cassidy is avoiding all those televised debates. Continue reading »

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 »