Jun 292015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Few people today recognize just how devastating the Civil War was, especially for the South.  The war resulted in over 750,000 deaths.  The South lost roughly a quarter of its male population of military age — 4 percent of its total population.  It constitutes the largest mortality event in American history.

Set against this backdrop, it comes as little surprise that memorials were built throughout the population centers of the South to commemorate the military and political leaders of the Confederacy and the soldiers who served under them.  Though the war was lost, the memories remained.

Yet, according to Mayor Landrieu, the days of Civil War Memorials in New Orleans are numbered.  In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Charleston, perpetrated by known Neo-Confederate and white supremacist Dylan Roof, virtually anything associated with the Confederacy is seen as a target. Continue reading »

Jun 252015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Conservative religious-freedom advocates still exist in America, and Gov. Bobby Jindal must connect with every single one of them if he is going to break out from the bottom of the pack to become a real player in the Republican presidential nomination race.

The ballroom at the Pontchartrain Center was packed to the gills yesterday with mostly white, flag-waving believers as Jindal made his highly structured announcement for President of the United States. The event started out with recorded messages from Archie Manning and former Gov. Mike Foster, Jindal’s mentor and former employer. His logo is a sparkling red and blue “J” that almost looks like a Christmas decoration. Continue reading »

Jun 182015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Obviously hungry for new leaders at the state level, New Orleans voters had three opportunities yesterday to hear from various candidates for state-wide office, now that campaign season is ramping up after the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, and PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle were generally congenial and complimentary of each other as they addressed a group of 1,000 predominately Westbank voters at the Alario Center very early yesterday morning. Continue reading »

Jun 082015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

There’s no getting around it: Central City is an impoverished neighborhood.

In 2013, Karen Gadbois and Craig Mulcahy summed up the situation in Central City nicely: “[Y]ou’re still within sight of the Superdome, but have no doubt about it: The tracks may be nonexistent, but you’re on the wrong side of them.”

With Central City’s depressed economic state, one would think that public officials and the nonprofit community would focus on promoting businesses that provide goods and services that serve a lower-income demographic. However, the opposite has been the case. Continue reading »

Jun 012015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Plea bargaining is one of the hallmarks of an efficient criminal justice system. The prosecutor saves time and effort. The city collects a fine and court costs. The defendant receives a break on the offense charged. In theory, everybody is happy.

Alas, Mayor Landrieu is apparently not happy. His administration has decided to end the process in traffic court. Continue reading »

May 142015
 
Billy Nungesser speaks at the Lafourche Republican Women's Meet and Greet. (photo via facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage on April 28)

Billy Nungesser speaks at the Lafourche Republican Women’s Meet and Greet. (photo via facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage on April 28)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican, it’s hard not to admire former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. If New Orleanian are asked the names of natural leaders who were on the scene fighting to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or to punch back after the BP oil spill, Nungesser’s name almost always comes up. The national media often flocked to this unabashedly outspoken but folksy businessman because of his obvious love for the region and his insistence that Louisiana deserves better. Continue reading »

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May 072015
 
State Sen. J.P. Morrell (left) and state Reps. Helena Moreno and Walt Leger are introduced Thursday night at Publiq House for a Politics and Cocktails event and legislative briefing. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

State Sen. J.P. Morrell (left) and state Reps. Helena Moreno and Walt Leger are introduced Thursday night at Publiq House for a Politics and Cocktails event and legislative briefing. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The $664 million that the state House of Representatives dedicated Thursday toward higher education in Louisiana is both a major accomplishment in its own right, a trio of state lawmakers from New Orleans said — and yet still only a start toward preserving the state’s most essential services amid a major budget deficit.

“There are holes in the budget that need to be filled,” said state Rep. Walt Leger. “We made major steps in the right direction today, we’ve got a long way to go.” Continue reading »

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May 072015
 
The front door of a home in the 2300 block of Octavia Street remains charred on Tuesday afternoon, with tatters of the American flag that was also burned. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The front door of a home in the 2300 block of Octavia Street remains charred on Tuesday afternoon, with tatters of the American flag that was also burned. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Shreds of charred red, white and blue fabric still sat on the scorched doorstep of an Octavia Street home on Tuesday afternoon, after a fire apparently started on an American flag temporarily displaced the family from their home and left neighbors both baffled and disturbed. Continue reading »

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May 072015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Our usually right-on-point Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has been in the news twice this week — first with his remarks that maybe more, better-paid police is not the answer to our crime problems and then about his proposed “divorce” with Police Monitor Susan Hutson. Now it is true that Quatrevaux is white and that Hutson, most of the police and the people they are sworn to protect are not. Does Quatrevaux just see things differently or is there more to his feelings than meets the eye? Continue reading »

May 042015
 

Owen Courreges

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of urban planning. The idea of some committee micromanaging what structure should go where, what uses should be permitted, what time we should be having our bowel movements (ok, perhaps they don’t go that far), has always unnerved me.

A die-hard planner looks at a map of New Orleans and they don’t see an established city chock-full of independent decision-makers. Instead, they see an interactive game that they can manipulate and control. They see “Sim City.”

Exhibit “A” for this is Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who decided to put her foot in her mouth while giving a speech before the House while arguing against an amendment to block funding for an Obama Administration Flood Risk Management Executive Order. Continue reading »

May 012015
 
New Orleans police officers close an Interstate 10 on-ramp to divert protesters marching in support of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 25, 2014. (image via WWL-TV)

New Orleans police officers close an Interstate 10 on-ramp to divert protesters marching in support of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 25, 2014. (image via WWL-TV)

As the city of Baltimore struggles with ongoing unrest related to the use of force by police there, two high-ranking New Orleans Police Department officers (including one from the Uptown-based Second District) have spent the week embedded with law enforcement agencies assisting with crowd control there, city officials said. Continue reading »

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Apr 302015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Sunday, May 3, should be a pretty good 54th birthday for U.S. Senator David Vitter, the clear frontrunner in the Louisiana’s governor’s race. Vitter has raised $1.1 million in the most recent campaign finance period which ended earlier this week and still has $4.2 million on hand, more than the other three major candidates combined. That total does not include Vitter’s SuperPac which is also sitting on millions.

While money does not always dictate the outcome of campaigns, it certainly makes it easier to spread a candidate’s message through television, direct mail, phone banks, election day activities and all those other indicators of a truly successful campaign. Continue reading »

Apr 232015
 
Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Acadiana-based gubernational candidate and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle made the rounds at a Cajun Fais Do Do held in his honor last night in New Orleans, he reminded the close to 100 attendees that Louisiana voters have a history of electing governors who hail from Acadiana — Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco — and that several of our recent governors — Mike Foster and Buddy Roemer — were early dark horses.

One of nine children whose father headed up the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries department and passed down his passion for the environment, Angelle was quick to differentiate himself from front-runner U.S. Senator David Vitter and his old boss Bobby Jindal. Continue reading »

Apr 162015
 
Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Americans rich and poor, old and young, paused yesterday to remember the 150th anniversary of the assassination of America’s first martyred commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often considered America’s greatest president, polling way ahead of even George Washington.

A self-educated lawyer born in Kentucky’s western frontier, Lincoln became an early leader in the newly formed Republican Party and always spoke out against the expansion of slavery. Lincoln won the presidency by sweeping the North, causing the Confederate States of America to be created even before he was sworn in as America’s sixteenth president. Continue reading »

Apr 092015
 
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and supporters at the Cabildo this week. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and supporters at the Cabildo this week. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

By almost all accounts, Jay Dardenne has been a pretty good Lt. Governor. Though not a “tourism person,” Dardenne ran an efficient bureaucracy, shrunk the budget and did more with less. Under Dardenne’s watch, the number of visitors to Louisiana has grown along with tourism related jobs.

While Dardenne was solid administrator for the state’s cultural attractions and museums, he was never really embraced by tourism’s heavy hitters. That’s probably why the turnout for Dardenne’s New Orleans announcement for governor at the Cabildo yesterday was so light and why his campaign has attracted few New Orleans donors, especially among the tourism leadership who know him best. Continue reading »

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Apr 022015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Louisiana donors will get their first chance to view former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s all-but-declared presidential candidacy up close and personal when Bush comes to New Orleans on April 15 as the special guest at U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s fundraising reception. Dozens of Louisiana’s heavy-hitter Republican donors — and a few Democrats too — are sure to find their way to the Metairie estate of Joe Canizaro, one of the most prolific bundlers in the Gulf South. Continue reading »

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 »