Oct 112018
 

Martha Lemoine talks about the US Constitution to students of the Nancy Marsiglia Institute. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

In a fiery speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Gold Star father Khizr Khan talked about falling in love with the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. A Pakistani immigrant whose son Army Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004, Khan offered to lend Donald Trump his copy so Trump could look up the words “liberty” and “equal protection under the law.”

New Orleans civic activist Madalyn Schenk was inspired by Khan’s speech and decided to form a different kind of book club – one that exclusively studied the Constitution and accompanying documents. That “constitution club” has now grown into the Nancy Marsiglia Institute, a 12-week cooperative program between Loyola University Law School and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. The late philanthropist Nancy Marsiglia was the first person Schenk approached to participate. Soon other women including Councilmember Helena Moreno, Patty Riddlebarger, Ruth Kullman and United Way COO Charmaine Caccioppi joined in. Constitution expert Martha Lemoine Palmer, a mentor teacher and national judge for the Center for Civic Education’s We the People project, agreed to lead the class. Loyola Law School Dean Madeleine Landrieu – then Appeals Court Judge – bestowed the first graduation certificates. Continue reading »

Oct 052018
 

Southern Poverty Law Center advocate Curtis Davis II, New Orleans League of Women Voters President Rosalind Blanco Cook, and State Senator J.P. Morrell discuss constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The Nov. 6 election ballot doesn’t just include federal, state and local races. Citizens will also have the opportunity to vote yes or no on six statewide constitutional amendments and on legalizing fantasy sports betting in Orleans Parish. “New Orleans voters should get the information about the pros and cons of the constitutional amendments on the November ballot so they can make informed choices at the polls,” said New Orleans League of Women Voters President Rosalind Blanco Cook. Continue reading »

Sep 272018
 

Volunteers with the New Leaders Council assist with voter registration at an event for the Unanimous Jury Coalition at Urban South Brewery on Tuesday, Sept. 25. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The statewide effort to create a constitutional amendment requiring a unanimous jury vote for a conviction came to Uptown New Orleans this week, registering voters and rallying supporters for the Nov. 6 ballot question. Continue reading »

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Sep 272018
 

State Rep.s Julie Stokes and Rick Edmonds, both candidates for Secretary of State, pose for a photo at the Greater New Orleans Republicans endorsement meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Preaching in a staccato, firebrand rhetoric on numerous conservative sacred-cow issues, Baton Rouge State Rep. Rick Edmonds was heartily endorsed last night by the Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee and the Greater New Orleans Republicans in the Nov. 6 race for Secretary of State, beating out better-known names locally such as Kenner State Rep. Julie Stokes, former State Sen. A.G. Crowe, and current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. Continue reading »

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Sep 202018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

When Mayor LaToya Cantrell addressed the Bureau of Governmental Research on Tuesday, she was quick to talk about her desire to add currently exempt property to the tax rolls while also re-distributing other tax dollars that are generated in New Orleans, especially those collected by the tourism industry. Even though the City Council recently proposed new millage to support senior citizens, Cantrell told the packed house that New Orleans could not tax our way into prosperity and has been clear that a budget shortfall of at least $24 million is anticipated for 2019. Continue reading »

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Sep 132018
 

Center for Developmental Learning vice president Frank Williams, Chair Holly Sharpe, speaker Dr. Tim Shanahan and Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger at a symposium Wednesday on the importance of early literacy. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With an overall enrollment of more than 1700 students, Lusher Charter School CEO Kathy Riedlinger understands the importance of her students developing strong reading skills at an early age. That’s why Riedlinger, her elementary principal and two other Lusher leaders attended a symposium yesterday hosted by the Center for Development and Learning (CDL), a non-profit whose mission is to improve the life chance of all children, especially those at high risk. Continue reading »

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Sep 062018
 
Dr. Tammy Savoie will challenging incumbent Steve Scalise for Congress seat

Dr. Tammy Savoie, a psychologist and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel challenging incumbent Steve Scalise for Congress, speaks at a Democratic fundraiser in the Warehouse District on July 24. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With a stunning victory Tuesday night against 22-year Congresssman Mike Capuano, Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley is the latest candidate to upend the traditional political party system in America. An avowed progressive who was endorsed by the Democratic Party structure, Capuano is the fourth House incumbent to be defeated by a fresh face who was able to connect with voters in a very real way. An African-American female, Pressley is a former aide to Rep. Joseph Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry who has worked her way up by keen networking and strong performances. Continue reading »

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Aug 302018
 

Stakeholders including GNOF’s Andy Kopplin, former Council candidate Tilman Hardy and former Councilmember Oliver Thomas discuss options for Spirit of Charity District at community meeting. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Though there is much progressive talk in New Orleans these days about the need for economic and social equity, the viability of the redevelopment of Charity Hospital and its surrounding footprint will be decided in part by the willingness of Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the City Council and the judges of Civil District Court to relocate into the former hospital. Without their participation, the overall development – with its strong commitment to affordable housing, DBE participation, training and workforce development – would suffer from a severe funding gap. A significant public subsidy would be needed to get the project off the ground. An “active tenant” such as city government is necessary to make the project’s financial numbers work. Continue reading »

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Aug 232018
 

Louisiana Secretary of State contenders A.G. Crowe, Gwen Collins-Greenup and Renee Fontenot Free address the New Orleans Coalition earlier this week. (photp by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Thousands of women candidates across the country — like two running for Secretary of State in Louisiana, Renee Fontenot Free and Gwen Collins-Greenup — will be celebrating Women’s Equality Day on Sunday, August 26. During the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a resolution in 1973 recognizing the August 26, 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the constitutional right to vote. Continue reading »

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Aug 162018
 

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Metairie) speaks Wednesday at the Rotary Club of New Orleans. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise touted the virtues of civility and bipartisanship in Washington and his strong relationship across the aisle with Democratic colleague Rep. Cedric Richmond on Wednesday in New Orleans, even while simultaneously defending a President whose public insults and attacks on perceived enemies is the foundation of his personal style.

Continue reading »

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Aug 162018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

What do Julie Stokes, Richard Perque, A.G. Crowe, Chelsey Richard Napoleon, Marie Williams, Heather Cloud and Omar Mason have in common? All are candidates for state or local office in the November 6, 2018 elections who made sizeable personal loans to their campaigns. By beefing up fundraising totals, these candidates became more viable which in turn helps future fundraising. Several other contenders – Kyle Ardoin, Kenneth Plaisance, and Renee Fontenot Free – also loaned themselves the fees needed to qualify and were quickly reimbursed. Continue reading »

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Aug 092018
 

New York City’s progressive mayor, Mayor Bill De Blasio, speaks at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

“It could be a toss-up,” said former Congressman Bob Livingston when asked Monday if he thought the Republican Party would stay in power after the November 2018 mid-term elections. “I believe the GOP will remain in control, but I have been wrong on occasion. The Ohio congressional special election will be a good test of Republican strength.” Readers probably know that Republican Troy Balderson, 35, declared victory over Danny O’Connor, 31, after narrowly leading Election Day voting in Ohio earlier this week. The outcome could change — or not — after thousands of provisional ballots are counted. Continue reading »

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Aug 022018
 

Need to Impeach organizer Tom Steyer talks with voters who attended his town hall meeting last night at the Audubon Tea Room. (Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

An anti-Trump spirit was clearly in the air last night as a standing room only crowd participated in the “Need to Impeach” town hall meeting at the Audubon Tea Room. The event was sponsored by billionaire investor Tom Steyer, the founder and president of Need to Impeach and NextGen America, thought to be U.S.’s largest progressive political operation aimed at the 2018 midterm elections. Barnstorming the country as part of a well-funded national outreach, Steyer will address the Netroots Nation conference currently underway at the Morial Convention Center later today and is sponsoring a Pub Quiz Friday evening. Continue reading »

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Jul 262018
 

Dr. Tammy Savoie, a psychologist and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, listens as she is introduced to a crowd of Democratic fundraisers at the Calcasieu event space in the Warehouse District on Tuesday, July 24. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The difficult odds of upsetting U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise cannot be understated: the nationally-known Republican has never garnered less than two-thirds of the vote in his Congressional district.

Nevertheless, Tammy Savoie is persisting. And, for the first time in what may be decades, Democrats in New Orleans believe they have found a candidate who can make the race for the seat competitive.

“I think this is the first viable candidate in the First Congressional District in a long time,” said Bill Hammack, who hosted a fundraiser for Savoie on Tuesday that filled in the banquet room at Calcasieu in the Warehouse District. Continue reading »

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Jul 262018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

I used to think that purchasing a “whole house” generator or putting a dozen or more solar panels on my roof was an unnecessary expense. Now I am reconsidering those options after surviving a recent brownout on one of those 100 degree days – and realizing the electricity is going out in New Orleans neighborhoods far too often. Continue reading »

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