Jun 102014
 

jewel bush

You’ve seen them at many intersections and overpasses across the city.

They weave in and out of traffic at red lights, often dressed in team jerseys or uniforms, their sweet faces so hard to say no to.

They work in teams usually. There are the sign carriers. Sometimes the signs are pithy and drum up sympathy. Other times, the words on the poster boards are a scrawl so faint you can hardly decipher the exact message. One thing is unmistakable, though. They want money. Continue reading »

May 262014
 

Owen Courreges

A common practice amongst subordinates is to intentionally include extraneous steps in a plan to give a meddling boss something to change.  This way, the plan remains exactly the same, but the boss feels as though he’s made a contribution and the subordinate can point out that he compromised.  It goes like this:

PEON:   Here’s what my plan is: We’ll design the product, build a prototype, dispose of toxic waste in the executive washroom, and then launch the product.

BOSS:    Whoa! That third step is a problem. I don’t think we should dispose of toxic waste in the executive washroom.  That could harm our corporate executives.

PEON:   Hmmm… I’m still not sure about abandoning Step 3, but I see what you’re saying and value your guidance.  I’ll scrap Step 3.

BOSS:    Great!  Let’s move forward.

It was this kind of scenario that comes to mind when the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center makes its pitch to expand its facilities into the Lower Garden District as part of a public/private partnership. Continue reading »

May 212014
 
A rendering of the upriver expansion of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (via mccno.com)

A conceptual drawing of the upriver expansion of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (via mccno.com)

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is on the cusp of returning to a major expansion with a new hotel and exhibit hall on long-vacant land in the Lower Garden District, officials said Wednesday morning. Continue reading »

May 152014
 

State Rep. Neil Abramson at a town hall in Carrollton in 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

State Rep. Neil Abramson at a town hall in Carrollton in 2013. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Two environmental activists called for state Rep. Neil Abramson to recuse himself from bills that would affect the wetlands-loss lawsuits against the oil and gas industry because his law firm represents one of the companies being sued, but Abramson defended his conduct with regard to the bills and said it has been ethical and without bias. Continue reading »

Apr 182014
 

By Elizabeth Elliott, Davida Finger and Melissa Gallo

While the City has many responsible landlords, all too often in our practice at the Loyola Community Justice Clinic, our clients face landlords who refuse to repair substandard housing, wrongfully withhold deposits at the end of leases, try to illegally evict in order to rent to Mardi Gras tourists and other offenses that take advantage of the landlord-friendly laws. Louisiana has lagged far behind other states in protecting renters, and Senate Bill 298 is an attempt to find the correct balance between landlord and tenant rights and interests. Continue reading »

Apr 072014
 

Owen Courreges

Twenty years.  That’s 7,300 days.  It’s over a quarter of the average American lifespan, and in Louisiana, it’s the amount of time a person can potentially serve for simple possession of marijuana.

While you’re picking your jaw up off the floor after hearing that, I should emphasize that we’re not talking about dealing.  Simple possession refers to quantities too low for distribution.  It is a misdemeanor, but only on the first offense.  A second offense graduates to a felony punishable by up to five years in jail.  After third offense, the maximum goes up to twenty years. Continue reading »

Apr 032014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We have been watching with much interest the national and Louisiana debate regarding increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The latest polls show that support is growing across the nation, although only seven states and the District of Columbia have raised starting pay.

According to today’s New York Times, Louisiana is one of five states – the others being Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that currently does not have a minimum wage. Washington State has the highest wage ($9.32) currently with D.C. to move to $11.50 in 2016. While both those rates might be too high for Louisiana’s economy, something must be done to give our lowest paid citizens a better opportunity to succeed in life. Continue reading »

Mar 262014
 
Former Louisiana Govs. Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards share a laugh during one of the lighter moments during Wednesday night's panel discussion at Loyola University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Former Louisiana Govs. Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards share a laugh during one of the lighter moments during Wednesday night’s panel discussion at Loyola University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Although former Louisiana governors Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards have a number of political differences, all three agreed Wednesday night that no state officials — neither the legislature nor the current governor — should interfere with the local levee board’s lawsuit against oil companies. Continue reading »

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Mar 252014
 

jewel bush

Less than three months passed between the arrest of George Junius Stinney Jr. and his execution. The whole Stinney trial took only one day – including jury selection.

The year was 1944 in Alcolu, a South Carolina town established by a lumber company in the late 19th century. All of the townsfolk worked for the mill; and in fact, were paid in metal coins emblazoned with the letter “A;” legal tender accepted at the company store to pay for everything from groceries to a doctor’s visit.

Stinney was 14 when he sat in the electric chair using the Bible he carried into the death chamber as a booster seat. From the looks of his mug shot, Stinney could have passed for as young as 12 when he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder of two pre-teen white girls by an all-white jury in a town that was more than half black. Continue reading »

Mar 242014
 

Owen Courreges

Louisiana’s relatively lax landlord-tenant laws arguably need to be revisited, but a new proposal in the state legislature tilts the scales too far in favor of tenants who breach their obligations.

In late February, Louisiana State Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb filed Senate Bill 298, which includes a laundry list of revisions to the laws governing residential leases.  The centerpiece is a non-waivable 30-day eviction notice period for all evictions, regardless of grounds.  Under existing law, a tenant may be evicted with five days notice, although this notice may be waived by agreement of the landlord and tenant in the lease. Continue reading »

Mar 212014
 

The Audubon Nature Institute will not file its first campaign-finance report until April 24, more than a month after the March 15 election it was advertising for, because it is not reporting any spending prior to Feb. 21, according to a report by Tyler Bridges of The Lens. Its activities prior to that date — including creation of a website called VoteYesForAudubon.com — were “part of a ‘branding campaign’ that did not specifically advocate the tax,” Audubon’s attorney told The Lens, though at least one critic says that the lack of disclosure allows Audubon to “circumvent” campaign finance laws intended to let the public know who is spending money to influence elections.

Mar 172014
 

Owen Courreges

Should the powers of New Orleans Municipal Court be expanded?   It’s already happening.  You just probably didn’t realizing it was going on.

It began a couple of years ago, in late January 2012.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu dispatched letters to the judges of Criminal District Court and Municipal Court asking them to impose higher bonds for release in gun cases.  Landrieu specifically pointed to a program initiated by Judge John Garvey in St. Louis, who began automatically requiring a $30,000 cash-only bond for youths arrested for illegally possessing firearms. Continue reading »

Mar 122014
 

By Clark Thompson

If you live in Uptown New Orleans, you’ve probably had the misfortune of driving on Octavia street in the past few months. The US Army Corp’s SELA project effectively closes Jefferson Avenue, and ends up sending lots of traffic onto Octavia, and the wear and tear of additional use is destroying the street. And the street is destroying cars, but that’s already been covered. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

State Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, is sponsoring a bill supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu that would allow the city of New Orleans to hold an election asking voters whether the property taxes dedicated specifically to police and fire services should be raised, according to an article by Charles Maldonado of The Lens. The property tax increase would increase spending on emergency services by about $6 million, the article states.

Feb 252014
 
A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

A drawing of the proposed community center included in city documents.

Kevin Brown (via tccno.org)

Kevin Brown (via tccno.org)

A long-delayed plan to create a new community center on Monroe Street in west Carrollton — now slated to be a new home for Hollygrove’s Trinity Christian Community — received a thumbs-up from the New Orleans City Planning Commission on Tuesday, and organizers say they now have the funding in line for the project to move forward. Continue reading »

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Feb 242014
 
Lt. Gen. Russell Honore addresses the Louisiana Landmarks Society on Monday evening at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore addresses the Louisiana Landmarks Society on Monday evening at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, best known for his no-nonsense leadership in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, returned to the city Monday night in his new role: condemning entire generations of Louisiana lawmakers for an acquiescence to major chemical companies that is now compromising the future of the state.

Speaking before the Louisiana Landmarks Society at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in the center of Uptown New Orleans, Honore may have been preaching to the choir, or, as he calls them, his “Green Army.” What they really wanted to know — like so many audiences the general has spoken to around the state — is whether Honore plans to run for governor. Continue reading »

Feb 242014
 

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

The state lawmakers who sit on the legislature’s Hurricane Recovery Committee will take up the issue of “intimidating” Road Home collection letters previously raised by New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell in a meeting this evening (Monday, Feb. 24), officials said. Continue reading »

Feb 152014
 
Lusher's operations director Frank Israel leads school board members in taking the state's newest standardized test. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lusher’s operations director Frank Israel leads school board members in taking the state’s newest standardized test. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

In a scene reminiscent of the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”, the Lusher Charter School governing board sat down Saturday morning and took the new standardized tests that students will face this spring. The stakes were much higher, however, as the exercise helped the board members understand the concerns educators have with the new tests.

In a separate issue, school officials discussed the upcoming renovations of the Lusher High School building, and the need for modular classrooms on campus to accommodate students during the project. Continue reading »