Oct 172019
 

Notarial Archives Research Center staffer Tabitha Theophile holds up pre-Civil War notarial volume that includes information on slave emancipation. Also pictured are Siva Blake, Keith Guglielmo, Clerk of Court Chelsey Napoleon Richard and archivist Sally Reeves. (Danae Columbus)

The history of New Orleans – as told through its notarial acts and other civil records – is currently on display during National Archives Month at the New Orleans Archives Research Center, 1340 Poydras St., Suite 360. Continue reading »

Oct 132019
 

Gov. John Bel Edwards kicks off his campaign July 8 with a rally on Thalia Street in the Lower Garden District. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Gov.  John Bel Edwards will face Republican Eddie Rispone in a Nov. 16 runoff in part because he was unable to get out all his base. While 45.3% of voters statewide cast their ballots in the race for governor yesterday, only 38.4% of New Orleanians voted. Continue reading »

Oct 102019
 

Patrons at Bayou Road’s Half Shell on the Bayou watch the gubernatorial debate on Wednesday, Oct. 8. (Danae Columbus)

Despite heavy attacks from his Republican opponents and their related political action committees, Gov. John Bel Edwards was sailing toward a primary victory. Armed with an abundant war chest and a bipartisan coalition that was holding together, Edwards’ team could smell victory until two negative spots about former senior staffer Johnny Anderson hit the airwaves. Sources say Anderson had a history of sometimes being “a bad boy.” Until the #MeToo movement began, his habits were tolerated. Continue reading »

Oct 032019
 

Affordable housing units on Washington Avenue. (Danae Columbus)

Why are thousands of New Orleans working-poor families struggling to find a decent place to live? The answer is simple: Our government leaders are dragging their feet in making enough affordable housing available to meet the need.

“We are in the midst of a crisis in New Orleans,” said Housing NOLA Executive Director Andreanecia Morris, one of the city’s most knowledgeable housing experts. The rising cost of living in New Orleans is most severely impacting residents who earn less than 80% of the area’s annual medium income ($53,000 for a family of four). Many of these individuals work in the service industry. With no clear end in sight, the crisis is only becoming even worse. Although Mayor LaToya Cantrell has provided some funding for new units and has millions of dollars more in the pipeline, for the second year in a row the overall number of affordable units has decreased. Continue reading »

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Sep 262019
 

New Orleans Opera Association Director Robert Lyall, far right, works with the cast of Carmen at the Carrollton Avenue Methodist Church on Tuesday evening.  (Danae Columbus)

When the New Orleans Opera Association kicks off its 77th season Friday, Oct. 4 with Bizet’s Carmen, it will continue a tradition that has been flourishing for more than 200 years. Though many consider New Orleans the birthplace of jazz and Big Freedia’s twerk, New Orleans also stands out as the first city of opera in America.

“We take great pride as the first producers of opera in America,” said Robert Lyall who has been the director of the New Orleans Opera Association for 22 years. Opera began in New Orleans in 1796 as a direct cultural pipeline from Paris. Continue reading »

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Sep 192019
 

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson shares a moment with her husband, Dana Peterson, and her campaign team at the OPDEC on Wednesday night. (Danae Columbus, Uptown Messenger)

In preparation for tonight’s first televised gubernatorial debate, the age-old question comes to mind — is politics more than just a popularity contest? Do citizens vote for the candidates they like best, regardless of their stand on issues or personal shortcomings? By all accounts, Gov. John Bel Edwards is popular and remains ahead in all the polls, despite numerous attacks. President Trump, please take note. Continue reading »

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Sep 052019
 

Wages for many working-class residents have not risen, hurting their ability to pay higher property taxes. (Danae Columbus)

In an effort to reduce their 2020 property tax bills, thousands of New Orleanian property owners will begin pleading their cases for tax relief to the New Orleans Board of Review on Sept. 17. Homeowners who filed a property tax appeal by Aug. 22 should receive letters next week indicating their appeal date. According to Councilman Jared Brossett, who chairs the council’s review process, the hearings are set for Delgado Community College’s Lac Maurepas Meeting Room in the Student Life Center, 916 Navarre St.

Baring a national disaster, it is fairly common for the value of houses and vacant land to increase every year, certainly every four years. A large number of New Orleanians can ill afford a property tax increase because they have not amassed wealth. Simply put, wages are not rising. Perpetual low-paying jobs or a lack of training that could lead to better opportunities holds our citizens back. Increased costs of everything from milk to diapers make for tighter budgets. In addition, our large community of renters is also impacted whenever landlords raise monthly fees to cover additional taxes. Continue reading »

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Aug 292019
 

The 400th anniversary of Africans being brought to America as slaves was on my mind last Sunday when I read the obituary of the late Yorke Nicholson Corbin, a former reporter and member of the family who owned the Times-Picayune and its predecessors for almost 100 years. Continue reading »

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Aug 222019
 

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, second from the right, with JoAnn Paulin, Kirk Williamson and Nina Roland at the Home Defense Foundation meeting. (Danae Columbus)

Gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham told a New Orleans audience last week that he would move Louisiana in the right direction by cutting spending, changing the tax structure, building the economy and creating jobs. The pledge was made during remarks to the Home Defense Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the right of citizens to bear arms in their homes as well as gun safety and training.

Abraham didn’t spend a minute talking about banning assault weapons or universal background checks. Why? Because the room was filled with Second Amendment advocates — men and women already committed to taking personal responsibility to defend themselves and their families. I believe their philosophy is the wave of the future. Background checks and assault weapon bans won’t keep criminals away from guns.  Continue reading »

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Aug 152019
 

District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso discusses the new property assessments Tuesday at a new Lakeview Civic Association meeting. (Danae Columbus)

The math is simple: Higher assessments plus higher millage rates equal higher property taxes. In neighborhood after neighborhood, residents are meeting to learn the ins and outs of filing property tax appeals by the Aug. 22 deadline.

“This is obviously a white-hot issue,” said District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso to the more than 400 lake area residents who gathered at St. Dominic’s School on Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen so many people at a Lakeview Civic Association meeting.”

Continue reading »

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Jul 252019
 

A CBD business keeps its sandbags on standby. (Danae Columbus, Uptown Messenger)

Every time it rains hard, I worry that my home might be flooding again. I was in Mid-City on Saturday when the rain began, and I quickly headed back downtown. Along the way, standing water overflowed every intersection, even after I reached the CBD – which until recently had always been a pretty dry area. As I finally approached home I could see a dutiful neighbor standing in knee deep water in an effort to slow down the wake from passing vehicles.

Just that morning, I had carefully swept away all the remaining dirt and debris from the previous week’s flooding. Now I needed to repeat the process after I cleaned up inside.  What I particularly don’t like about floodwaters is that they contain harmful bacteria that can make even healthy people sick.   Continue reading »

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Jul 112019
 

Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks to supporters during a rally on Monday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With almost $10 million cash on hand in his campaign account, a jubilant Gov. John Bel Edwards and his wife, Donna Edwards, drew a spirited crowd of donors, consultants and everyday supporters at his Uptown headquarters opening earlier this week.

Retired AFL-CIO leader Peter Babin drove from Slidell to stand with current GNO AFL-CIO President Tiger Hammond and SEIU executive LaTanja Silvester. City Council President Helena Moreno, her chief of staff Andrew Tuozzolo, and Councilman Jay Banks were in that number with Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s close adviser Bob Tucker and staffer Julius Feltus. State Reps. Royce Duplessis, Randall Gaines and Walt Leger III attended. Leger, a $10,000 donor to the governor, gave a rousing introduction and was also praised by Edwards for his accomplishments benefiting the citizens of New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Jun 272019
 

A victim and a victim advocate talk with a New Orleans police officer investigating a recent crime. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The police labeled it a purse snatching, but to the victim it was a crime of opportunity and much, much more.

An out-of-town businesswoman was walking through the Warehouse District around 5 p.m. on a recent Sunday afternoon when a car carrying two women stopped on the corner. One grabs the woman from behind, throwing her to the ground. While the driver of the vehicle laughed, the perpetrator repeatedly kicked the businesswoman in the face and head. Blood oozing from her mouth, the terrified victim was crying and begging for mercy as the savage assault continued. Continue reading »

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Jun 202019
 

The Committee for a Better New Orleans along with its predecessor The Metropolitan Area Committee have been focused on change at systemic levels for 50 years. Pictured, left to right, are CBNO leaders Anthony Carter, Lindsey Navarro, Keith Twitchell and Tim Hemphill. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Since 1966 the Committee for a Better New Orleans, or CBNO, and its predecessor The Metropolitan Area Committee, or MAC, have created an inclusive, welcoming environment where community leaders work across race and class lines to craft transparent solutions to the city’s most pressing problems. The brainchild of Richard W. Freeman and the Bureau of Governmental Research, the nonprofit was envisioned as the action organization that could take BGR’s recommendations to the next step through research and advocacy. Sharing many of the same goals and board members, CBNO and MAC merged in 2002. Continue reading »

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Jun 132019
 

The former Brown’s Dairy complex has gone on the market. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Local and national real estate developers are excited by this week’s announcement that the former Brown’s Dairy complex — just uptown of the Pontchartrain Expressway and one block off St. Charles Avenue — is now for sale. According to listing agent Matthew Eaton of Re/Max, this 200,000-square-foot parcel presents the largest infill development opportunity to hit the New Orleans market in recent years. Continue reading »

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