Aug 122013

Crowds gather in front of The Company Burger on Freret St. as owner Adam Biderman hands out hamburgers for free Thursday, Sept. 3, 2012, while most of Uptown waits for power to come back. ( file photo by Sabree Hill)

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents during a crowded neighborhood meeting about a security-district proposal at Samuel J. Green Charter School. ( file photo by Robert Morris)

When more than 100 Freret residents gathered in the Samuel J. Green Charter School cafeteria in March to discuss a proposal to use a property-tax fee to hire private security guards for the neighborhood, the meeting had every appearance of a textbook example of gentrification and its painful fallout. Two white people sat at a table marked “FOR,” two African-Americans sat at a table marked “AGAINST,” and a room full of other black residents argued bitterly against what they saw as the secrecy of the proposal, about their sense of disenfranchisement amid an influx of “new residents,” and about the rising costs of merely remaining in their homes.

Given the explosion of commercial growth on Freret Street — from only a single restaurant four years ago to 14 blocks of highly-lauded cuisine, new entertainment venues and businesses ranging from a dog-groomer to a craft-cocktail lounge — concerns about gentrification should be expected. But after that heated meeting in March, the proponents and opponents literally walked away from the school building together down the sidewalk, relying on relationships and respect forged over decades to find a middle ground — suggesting that, perhaps, something is different about what’s happening on Freret. Continue reading »

Aug 092013

Wanda Rouzan leads a procession down Magazine Street to the newly opened St. Katherine Drexel Prep. (Robert Morris,

Just a few short months ago, a group of Xavier Prep alumni promised students that, despite what seemed at the time like insurmountable obstacles, they would proudly return to campus as the Yellow Jackets in the fall.

Call it an act of faith, call it the “Miracle on Magazine Street,” but on Friday morning, with a procession around the block and an invocation from an archibishop, the founders of the new St. Katharine Drexel Prep made good on their promise.

“This could have been a funeral march,” said Dale Atkins. “This is not a funeral. This is not a wake. This is truly a celebration.” Continue reading »

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Aug 092013

Craig Giesecke

This marks my 78th and final column for Uptown Messenger as Kim and I pack up and move back toward the West Coast. She was raised in the San Diego area and we feel it’s time to tighten the circle, pulling family closer and seeking new opportunities. Besides, I am long overdue for a good, no-time-schedule road trip and the adventure it brings.

In a perfect world, we would have time and money for one last, great tour of New Orleans favorite haunts and to try to get around to a few spots we haven’t yet tried. But we don’t have much of either, so such an event will have to wait until we return, which will be as often as possible. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

The home in the 3000 block of Danneel where a 42-year-old man was fatally shot in what police believe may have been a robbery gone bad. (Robert Morris,

Jonathan Joseph (via NOPD)

Jamar Armstrong (via NOPD)

A man gunned down at a Danneel Street home was likely the victim of a robbery attempt gone wrong, investigators say, and they have now arrested two men on murder charges in the case. Continue reading »

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Aug 082013

Jimmy Anselmo thanks the City Council for approving his request to reopen Jimmy’s Music Club on Willow Street. (Robert Morris,

After nearly a year of struggle and discord, Jimmy’s Music Club received permission Thursday afternoon from the New Orleans City Council to reopen in a flurry of smiles, applause, blown kisses — and a long list of operating conditions. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

Members of the City Council and the New Orleans Police Department present the family of Officer Rodney Thomas (wearing blue shirts) with a resolution honoring his sacrifice for the city. (Robert Morris,

With a resolution in his honor and words of encouragement for his family, the New Orleans City Council pledged Thursday morning to ensure the sacrifice of Officer Rodney Thomas has a permanent place in the city’s memory. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We are amazed by the changes over the years in the voting public’s perception of candidates involved in sexual scandals.

To put our views in some kind of context, you should know that Allan started covering politics in 1963 at the old States-Item and Danae worked in her first political campaign as a 12-year-old in 1962. She grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas and, campaign veteran that she was, was a blue chip worker in Bill Clinton’s first campaign – a race for Congress in 1974 which he lost but later won a few.

In the 1960s and early 70s, it didn’t take a sex scandal to put a candidate in trouble. Back in the day, a candidate running for the first time who had a divorce in his background was in serious trouble. Voters did not like divorces, although incumbents who had proved their electability could survive a divorce, especially if they re-married and the new wife embraced the political life and was a good campaigner. Continue reading »

Aug 072013

Jean-Paul Villere

Okay Louisiana lawmakers, I give up!  The pelican state’s recent but maybe not altogether surprising archaic approach to finessing legal uses of handheld devices while driving has me questioning the logic over in Baton Rouge.  As of last week, motorists (and presumably bicyclists too) are prohibited from use of social media while operating their vehicles, and while texting under similar circumstances was recently banned, general use of handheld devices and / or the internet remains legal.  Whiskey – Tango – Foxtrot elected officials and boo on you.  Isn’t this a little like saying you can hold a cigarette while driving but you can’t put it to your lips?  Or you can totally hit the drive thru and grab some artery clogging fare, and again hold it in your hand, but don’t eat it! Continue reading »

Aug 062013

The suspect in a robbery just off Magazine Street is arrested in the 5200 block of Laurel on Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Morris,

Officer James Porter directs his police dog to search under a home at Joseph and Annunciation. (Robert Morris,

A man suspected of robbing a woman at gunpoint just off Magazine Street was found hiding between two homes on Laurel Street and arrested after a four-hour manhunt Tuesday afternoon, with police shutting down streets in two neighborhoods to search house-to-house with tracking dogs. Continue reading »

Aug 062013

jewel bush

The war for the most New Orleansest grocery store in Mid City has been waged.

Winn-Dixie’s grand opening pomp and circumstance have included giveaways of all sorts, folks in patriotic-esque costumes meandering around the grocery – to add to the celebratory atmosphere, I suppose – and a saxophonist serenading produce shoppers to add Big Easy flair among other jazzy gimmicks.

Not to be upstaged by the new kid on North Carrollton Avenue, Rouses Market had a brass brand – tuba, trombones, trumpet, snare drum — playing near the store’s entrance, a block party hosted by WWOZ and a Sunday Gospel Brunch. Continue reading »

Aug 052013

Owen Courreges

The NOPD was dealt yet another black eye earlier this year when an investigation from the Inspector General’s Office revealed that off-duty officers were lining their pockets reviewing red-light camera tickets.  Former 8th District Commander Edwin Hosli created a private company, Anytime Solutions, to manage the detail, where off-duty officers were paid $35 per hour to review camera evidence provided by another private company, American Traffic Solutions.

Hosli, a close friend of Chief Ronal Serpas, also made sure to provide the obligatory patronage that feeds on New Orleans like a malignant tumor.  Anytime Solutions paid Serpas’s driver and his son-in-law, Travis Ward, who himself was previously suspended from duty after failing multiple breathalyzer tests when he totaled his NOPD cruiser back in 2009 (not exactly the type of person you want nit-picking other peoples’ driving habits). Continue reading »