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 »

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 »

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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