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.”

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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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May 302019
 

A Domain project is under construction in the South Market district. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Domain Companies officials will meet with neighbors Friday, May 31, to explain a zoning map amendment for their South Market District properties including The Standard, The Beacon, The Paramount, and a 36,000-square-foot surface parking lot. They are asking to change the zoning from CBD -5 to CBD-1, which would allow for increased commercial use, including timeshares.

Domain liaison Christian Brierre says the company is seeking the amendment “solely for the purpose of our retail spaces” and that The Paramount and The Beacon will “continue to be market-leading multifamily apartment products.” Continue reading »

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May 232019
 

Abortion-rights advocates rally in New Orleans on Wednesday against the bills in the state Legislature. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As the Louisiana Legislature prepares to pass one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the U.S., many pro-choice women are stunned by how the pendulum has swung to the right after more than 20 years of safe, legal abortions. Though abortion-rights advocates around the country initially dismissed the notion of life beginning with a fetal heartbeat, the concept of third trimester abortions eventually became abhorrent to the majority of voters. Proponents of Louisiana’s legislation have set the stage for a fight that liberals and progressives cannot win. Continue reading »

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May 162019
 

Water flows through the 800 block of Baronne Street on Sunday morning. Many New Orleans neighborhoods and business areas flooded after the early morning storm. (Danae Columbus, Uptown Messenger)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Sewerage & Water Board Director Ghassan Korban was very clear in his remarks at the Bureau of Governmental Research on Tuesday morning. When it rains as hard and fast as it did early Sunday, May 12, expect flooding. Our antiquated drainage system just can’t keep up.

Like thousands of New Orleanians, we spent Sunday mopping up flood residue and drying out our cars. Guests at the neighboring short-term rentals, caught off-guard, stood in line for our shop vac. Korban was pleased with our collaborative efforts. He believes in personal responsibility and that citizens should help each other. This includes neighbors cleaning catch basins as the front line in protecting their most important assets. Continue reading »

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May 092019
 

Sheriff Joe Lopinto, right, receives a Certificate of Appreciation from HDF founder Mike Weinberger. (courtesy of the Home Defense Foundation)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With gun violence always in the spotlight, the New Orleans-based Home Defense Foundation honored Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III Tuesday night for his commitment to keeping residents and business owners safe. “The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office does not prevent crime; we solve crimes quickly to prevent the next crime,” Lopinto said.

Lopinto’s office serves over 400,000 residents, more than any other parish in Louisiana, and ranks as the 15th largest sheriff’s jurisdiction in the U.S. “We make sure to solve crimes quickly to prevent retaliation,” he said. One tool that helps Lopinto reach that goal is the JPSO’s in-house crime lab, the only facility of its kind in the region. Though the lab is expensive to operate, it provides immediate results. In just minutes, analysts “put the pieces together” that often lead to a prompt arrest.

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May 022019
 

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee will soon be electing two people to join its ranks due to Council District B vacancies created by the deaths of longtime members Felicia Kahn and Rev. Samson (Skip) Alexander. Under OPDEC’s rules, only the remaining twelve members of the District B caucus are eligible to vote. They include Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her husband Jason along with Dana Peterson, husband of State Senator Karen Carter Peterson.

OPDEC is the local arm of the state’s Democratic Party. Its members are usually elected once every four years by a vote of all registered in the council district. One man and one woman will be elected. Continue reading »

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Apr 252019
 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell rides in the  Zulu parade on Mardi Gras 2019. The tradition was started by Mayor Dutch Morial’s son, Mayor Marc Morial. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Without really caring who she runs over along the way, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been plowing through such issues as increasing revenues from traffic cameras and how to fund the city’s long neglected infrastructure. In watching her especially feisty style, I can’t help comparing Cantrell to one of my favorite mentors — former Mayor Dutch Morial.

By any standard, Morial was pugnacious and always ready to go to battle for causes he believed in – and there were many. The word “compromise” was often missing from his vocabulary. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and would go to almost any means — including canceling Mardi Gras parades during the 1979 police strike — to reach his goals.

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Apr 182019
 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center in 2015. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden in the first major national presidential poll of 2019 Democratic contenders, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu should join the race for President. When Landrieu first left office, rumors circulated that he was interested in running, but only if Biden did not make the race.

A year later, Biden is slipping while other fresh-face candidates like South Bend Indiana Mayor Peter Buttigieg are grabbing the spotlight. Released by Emerson College on Monday, the poll included 20 potential candidates. Respondents selected Sanders as their first choice (29%), Biden as their second choice (24%) and Buttigieg as their third choice (9%). Continue reading »

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Apr 112019
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The soaring crime rate among juveniles is just another indication that most New Orleans schools are not adequately serving the hardest-toreach children. Juveniles often turn to crime because of poverty, undesirable living conditions, minimal parental involvement, and an overall lack of opportunities. Providing the comprehensive wrap-around services required by the many New Orleans children who have learning or behavioral problems is simply not a priority in today’s educational system. Continue reading »

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Apr 042019
 

State Sen. J.P. Morrell addresses supporters of his efforts to ratify the ERA in the 2019 legislative session. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Hundreds of women from across Louisiana are expected to travel to Baton Rouge on Tuesday for an ERA march and lobbying day, an opening salvo in the effort for Louisiana to be the critical 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Ellie Smeal, staunch ERA supporter and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, is speaking at a legislative kickoff luncheon Sunday in Baton Rouge sponsored by the American Association of University Women Louisiana, a long-time supporter of the legislation.

“Now is the right time to have the ERA conversation in Louisiana,” said state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, who is spearheading the state’s ratification process. “Women should be valued the same as men. Let’s move beyond partisan, old-school politics.” Continue reading »

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