Nov 072018

Bruce Reilly shows off a cake he and his daughter Kira Love, 9, made together, in honor of Amendment 2, which will require unanimous juries in non-capital felony cases. Supporters of the state constitutional amendment gathered in the Jazz Market on Nov. 6 to watch election results come in. (Zach Brien,

By Zach Brien,

Election day in New Orleans saw a high turnout for a mid-term ballot, and voters kept U.S. House incumbents Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, in their seats. But the biggest local celebrations turned out for a down-ballot constitutional amendment.

Supporters of Louisiana’s Amendment 2 gathered Nov. 6 at the New Orleans Jazz Market on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to watch election results at a party put on by the Unanimous Jury Coalition. The amendment requires unanimous juries to convict people of any felony count.

Going into Tuesday night, Louisiana and Oregon were the only states where defendants can be convicted of felonies without unanimous verdicts. Non-unanimous juries are considered a vestige of the Jim Crow era, when racial segregation was written into laws after the Civil War. Unanimity already was required in capital trials and those for lesser felonies decided by six-member juries.

At around 10 p.m., it was announced that the amendment passed with 64 percent of the vote, ending the 120-year practice. It take effect next year, when it will be applied to trials involving crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

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Nov 052018


While abolition of the death penalty has long been considered a liberal policy goal, a new group of conservatives activists say it fundamentally conflicts with their view of a limited government, and they are now organizing an effort to end its practice in Louisiana. Continue reading »

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Nov 012018
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

While President Donald Trump and others barnstorm the country for that elusive vote, local candidates — plagued by slow fundraising — are stretching resources to include robust Get Out The Vote plans. Only a few campaigns, such as the Unanimous Jury amendment, seem to have the money needed. Continue reading »

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Oct 292018

Dear New Orleans Voters,

My name is Austin Badon and I am running to be your next First City Clerk of Court. The reasons why are fairly simple: I love helping people, I am willing to work hard to improve our community, and I firmly believe your family and mine should have access to the justice system in a manner that is efficient, cost-effective and easy.

The Clerk of First City Court is an administrative position, and most of you know this office as the door to the “people’s court” or First City Court where four Judges you elect hear small business and personal claims.

When this office is run right, our city works better. When our basic disagreements as citizens are resolved quickly, there is no need for “street justice”. Quite simply, we’re all safer. Continue reading »

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Oct 292018

Advocate political reporter Tyler Bridges (right) and Tulane historian Lawrence Powell (left) engage in conversation about Bridges’ new book at Octavia Books Thursday, Oct. 25. Bridges’ book, “The Rise and Fall of David Duke” is an update of his 1995 book “The Rise of David Duke.” (photo by Nicholas Reimann for

By Nicholas Reimann for

The journalist that’s covered essentially the entire political career of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said it’s clear the man himself has no political future — even as many of the ideas he ran on in the early 1990s are now gaining wider acceptance by mainstream politicians.

Current Advocate and former Times-Picayune political reporter Tyler Bridges shared those thoughts at Octavia Books Thursday, as he and Lawrence Powell — Tulane historian and co-founder of the anti-Duke Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism — met for conversation about Bridges’ new book, “The Rise and Fall of David Duke.” Continue reading »

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Oct 252018

Mary Keller Zervigon (submitted photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Uptown resident and long time activist-philanthropist Mary Keller Zervigon epitomizes the best in service to the community. When the United Way of Southeast Louisiana was looking for a worthy New Orleanian to induct into their Alexis de Tocqueville Society on Nov. 1, Zervigon – an heir to the Louisiana Coca-Cola Bottling Company fortune – was an easy choice. Zervigon’s grandfather Alfred Bird (A.B) Freeman began selling the new-fangled bottled drink in 1906. Several decades later, the family’s well-documented history of philanthropy began. Continue reading »

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Oct 182018

Congressional candidate MiMi Methvin poses with Bobbie Hill and Micah Fincher at an Uptown fundraiser hosted by Seth and Julie Schwam Harris. (photo by Danae Columbus for

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Women leaders around the state are excited about congressional contender MiMi Methvin – a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Clay Higgins in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District. They expect Methvin, a former federal magistrate who was educated at Newcomb College, to take full advantage of the #Me Too Movement against sexual harassment. Numerous polls show that white, college-educated women are moving toward more culturally sensitive Democratic candidates and away from those who embrace President Donald Trump and his often divisive rhetoric. Continue reading »

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Oct 112018

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

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 »

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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

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 »

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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,

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

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

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,

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

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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