Apr 022020
 

Kevin Kinsella of Big Easy Corona Clean sanitizes a New Orleans business on Wednesday (April 1). (Danae Columbus)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Joe Sobol Sr. was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. The Riccobonos, his mother’s family, came to New Orleans after Sicily’s devastating famine in the 1880s. They first sold produce and then macaroni in the French Quarter. Eventually they opened The Pearl Restaurant and Oyster Bar at 119 St. Charles Ave., where 10-year-old Joe got his first job dressing the family’s famous roast beef po-boys. Continue reading »

Mar 262020
 

The tables outside Rouses on Baronne Street are cordoned off to prevent people from congregating. (Danae Columbus)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Every morning just before 7 a.m. Jonathan Rietmaier unlocks the doors of Mammoth Expresso, his popular CBD coffeehouse, so his employees can serve up the aromatic brew and pastries for which his small business is well known. Although strictly take-out these days, Riethmaier hadn’t changed Mammoth’s hours or staffing in an effort to help his five part-time employees. Continue reading »

Mar 192020
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell holds a press conference on March 17. (via the Mayor’s Office)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor LaToya Cantrell are being too soft on New Orleans. With the number of confirmed cases and deaths skyrocketing, our elected officials don’t have the luxury of merely suggesting that people stay home as much as possible. Some form of sheltering in place must become the law of the land if we don’t want martial law and the additional restrictions it will bring. Continue reading »

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Mar 122020
 

After Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared a state of emergency and recommended social distancing, patrons and workers still made the scene at Tracey’s and other venues across the city on Wednesday night. (Danae Columbus)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Now that Mayor LaToya Cantrell has declared a state of emergency and called for the Louisiana National Guard, New Orleanians who are used to hugging and kissing everyone in sight are being asked to embrace social distancing and other practices like constant hand washing that hopefully can slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. How well Mayor Cantrell is able to manage the city’s ever-evolving response will be her enduring legacy. Continue reading »

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Mar 052020
 

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro holds the Hero of Home Defense Award he received Tuesday night. Joining him at the presentation were Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Guillory, left, and Jason Napoli. (Danae Columbus)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Although he has yet to formally signal whether he will seek re-election in the fall of 2020,
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro gave a rousing address about New Orleans’ many crime problems and potential solutions to a packed crowd of Second Amendment supporters at the Home Defense Foundation’s meeting earlier this week. Attendees included New Orleans independent police monitor Susan Hutson. Continue reading »

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Feb 272020
 

Coronavirus (via www.cdc.gov)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

I am not a naysaying fatalist or someone who rushes to conclusions early. But last night I went to my neighborhood grocery store and picked up 10 cases of bottled water and placed it next to the five cases I bought the other day. I intend to get another 10 cases this weekend and begin stocking up on canned fruits and vegetables too.  And antiseptic cleaning supplies and cough medicine. Am I opening a bodega? No, I am preparing for what could be life-as-unusual if the coronavirus really hits New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Feb 202020
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell wishes Zulu spectators a happy Mardi Gras in 2019. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Although Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s job performance ratings took a hit from last year, according to a new poll, Cantrell still reigns supreme over all things News Orleans. The poll — taken earlier this month by Ed Chervenak’s Edgewater Research and Tony Liccardi’s My People Vote — provided a snapshot of the mayor’s favorability midway through her first term.  Results showed that Cantrell is less popular than either mayors Landrieu or Nagin were at this point in their administrations. Continue reading »

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Feb 132020
 

Firefighters enter a second-story unit in the 2300 block of St. Charles Avenue on Jan. 24 to search for potential victims. The Fire Department quickly got the blaze under control and rescued two people, three dogs and a cat. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

It’s no secret that the New Orleans Fire Department has been understaffed and underfunded for far more than a decade. The city has consistently told firefighters that they should be good soldiers and wait their turn. But their turn has never come. Firefighters are asking — if not now, when? Continue reading »

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Feb 062020
 

Democrat Anne Milling and Walter Isaacson, registered as No Party, were among the dozens who attended the opening of presidential contender Mike Bloomberg’s headquarters in New Orleans earlier this week. (Danae Columbus)

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With a rocky Democratic presidential nomination competition currently underway, Democrats and other voters in New Orleans are giving serious consideration to former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a 77-year old self-made billionaire and declared presidential candidates who is not participating in the tumultuous early state primaries.

Bloomberg launched a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign and has opened up strategic headquarters around the country, including in New Orleans at 642 Julia St. where dozens of interested citizens turned up Tuesday night. Continue reading »

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Jan 092020
 

Robbins Graham was the only candidate to qualify yesterday for First City Court.

A mixture of seasoned elected officials and political newcomers wanting to make a difference streamed into Criminal District Court yesterday, Jan. 8, to qualify for parish and state political committees and a lone judgeship in First City Court.

As expected, attorney Robbins Graham, who retired from the state’s Office of Family and Children’s Services earlier this week, became the first candidate to file for the open seat at First City Court. Graham had been planning for run for Civil District Court later this year but moved up his timetable when this vacancy suddenly occurred.

Graham might get an almost-free ride. No other major candidates have indicated they will seek the seat.  Continue reading »

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Jan 032020
 

Singer-songwriter-producer Robin Thicke will reign as the first legacy Bacchus.

By Danae Columbus, Uptown Messenger

Clark Brennan, Captain of the Krewe of Bacchus, announced Thursday that Bacchus will host its first legacy monarch — singer-songwriter Robin Alan Thicke — who will follow in his father Alan Thicke’s footsteps as Bacchus LII on Sunday, Feb. 23. Alan Thicke served as Bacchus XX in 1988. Continue reading »

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Jan 022020
 

Attorney Robbins Graham, right, with Matthew Willard, who will take the District 97 seat on the state House of Representatives on Jan. 13.  (via Facebook)

Though it might seem like our political season just ended, Louisiana’s campaigns are cranking up again next week with qualifying Jan. 8-10 for a vacant judgeship at First City Court and for dozens of seats on the Orleans Parish Democratic and Republican Parish Executive Committees and State Central Committees.

The First City Court vacancy is due to the recent untimely passing of Senior Judge Angelique Reed, 59, the first African-American to be elected to that court. Reed served with distinction for 21 years.

Attorney Robbins Graham, 61, a graduate of Southern University Law Center, told Uptown Messenger he was “seriously interested in qualifying.”  The Louisiana State Bar Association lists Graham as an attorney for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. A practicing attorney for more than 30 years, Graham attends the Beacon Light Baptist Church in Gentilly.

Continue reading »

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Dec 192019
 

The “Washington Avenue” float dominated by President Donald Trump rolls down St. Charles Avenue during the 2019 Knights of Chaos parade. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

In tonight’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, the seven participating candidates probably won’t dwell on yesterday’s impeachment vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Though some – especially former Vice President Joe Biden – might strongly believe that President Trump abused his power, America’s voters are evenly split as to whether he should be removed from office.  Continue reading »

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Dec 122019
 

Hospitality entrepreneur Warren Reuther in the Foundation Room of the new Riverboat Louis Armstrong. (Danae Columbus)

When local tourism’s most established entrepreneur Warren Reuther, Jr. christens the new 3,000 passenger Riverboat Louis Armstrong on Saturday afternoon, it will be a crowning achievement of an almost 50 year career as a visionary leader in the tourism industry.  Continue reading »

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Dec 052019
 

Guy Williams, Diana Lewis, Brandan “BMike” Odums and Sen. J.P. Morrell at the Committee for a Better New Orleans Citizen’s Participation Awards. (Danae Columbus)

In a recent speech to the Committee for a Better New Orleans, or CBNO, outgoing state Sen. J.P. Morrell urged attendees to talk with legislators statewide about issues important to them.

“Legislators want to hear from the public,” said Morrell. Sometimes a legislator might not have a great deal of information about a specific bill and has not made a decision how to vote. When they hear from citizens – especially those who are directly impacted by the legislation or the problem it would solve – their decisions are better informed. “You can change legislators’ minds by talking to them,” Morrell explained. Continue reading »

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