Jul 212016
 
Paul Bonin shares a chuckle after qualifying to run for Criminal District Court. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Paul Bonin shares a chuckle after qualifying to run for Criminal District Court. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Political insiders are shaking their heads this week as to why Paul Bonin, a widely-popular 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who has more than five years remaining on his current term, would decide to run for a lower-paying judgeship in the rough-and-tumble Criminal District Court. Continue reading »

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Jun 302016
 
U.S. Senate candidate Josh Pellerin speaks with voters in a video produced by his campaign. (via YouTube)

U.S. Senate candidate Josh Pellerin speaks with voters in a video produced by his campaign. (via YouTube)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Even today, many older Americans still may have a hard time admitting that an ancestor is bi-racial. But not 34-year-old U.S. Senate candidate Josh Pellerin, a Franklin, La., native and energy company owner based outside Lafayette who views his complex ancestry — and the way it mirrors the history of the state — as part of his appeal to Louisianans. Continue reading »

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Jun 232016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Now that Sheriff Marlin Gusman has acknowledged that he must cede day-to-day jail operations to a government-approved independent compliance director, how will the millions in reforms be paid for? The new expenses include the compliance director’s salary and benefits, other costs for new staff he or she will bring in as well as the new dollars needed to reach the federal government’s consent decree goals. It will be pricey for sure because the task is so large. Continue reading »

Jun 092016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The race to replace retiring 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Max Tobias is already heating up with three lower court judges – Criminal Court Judge Laurie White and Civil District Court Judges Tiffany Chase and Regina Bartholomew Woods – tossing their hats in the ring. Attorney Kevin Guillory who previously ran for a Criminal Court judgeship is also campaigning. Continue reading »

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May 122016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Will Mayor Landrieu’s vocal support of a federal takeover at the Orleans Parish Prison be the final encouragement Judge Lance Africk needs to pull the trigger on receivership? Gusman filed his response to the Justice Department’s complaint yesterday which basically said he had not been given enough time or resources to significantly address the many issues at hand.

Under receivership, the federal government will appoint a seasoned correctional official to administer violence and mismanagement issues. Gusman would continue to serve as Sheriff but his hands would basically be tied. Continue reading »

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May 052016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Caroline Zetzmann Calhoun, 2016 Whitney Bank Zoo To Do Chair, and her team of 400 volunteers serving on 15 committees have been working overtime for weeks to put the final touches on May 6th’s thirty-ninth annual extravaganza which will draw 5,000 attendees and benefit Audubon Zoo’s Tropical Bird House.

The culmination of a year’s worth of cajoling corporate donors, restaurants, bars, and other sponsors, this year’s gala is expected to raise $1.2 million and serve as the match for millions more in foundation, public and private sector gifts which form the basis of Audubon Institute’s almost $50 million annual budget. Continue reading »

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Apr 142016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The voters’ rejection of Mayor Landrieu’s tax proposal to fund additional police officers and pay firefighters’ back pensions was not a vote against the need for the tax but a clear sign of voter dissatisfaction and mistrust of Mayor Landrieu’s public safety policies and leadership. While the mayor obviously needs to address that anger, new sources of funding are still desperately needed if devastating cuts are to be avoided.

Landrieu and the City Council could shore up our tax base by ensuring New Orleans becomes the next American city to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A “sin tax” on the purchase of carbonated soft drinks is on the books in many countries around the world including France, Barbados and Mexico, where consumption of sodas declined after the tax was enacted. Continue reading »

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Apr 072016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Now serving his eleventh year as Orleans Parish’s top jailer, Marlin Gusman could easily be called the “Teflon Man”. Whether being attacked by the Legislative Auditor, Federal Judge Lance Africk, the consent decree monitors, Mayor Landrieu, the City Council or even the VOTE (Voice of The Ex-Offender) organization, the criticisms just roll off him. Continue reading »

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Mar 312016
 
Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Women officials at the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee meeting (from left): Nadine Ramsey and Deborah Langhoff, Susan Guidry and Kristen Gisleson Palmer, Angele Wilson and Caroline Fayard. (photos by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Based on the past week’s nasty exchange between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz about their respective wives, do the Republican presidential candidates really think of women as “objects to ogle or protect” as a New York Times columnist suggested? Or do the GOP contenders recognize female voters to be the savvy constituency that will decide the outcome of this year’s presidential race? Continue reading »

Mar 242016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

OPSB Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis sent a letter to central office staff this week who were not eliminated in the first round of staff changes last summer advising them that more cuts were on the way but that they could apply for jobs remaining, if they were qualified. Even the current principals were told that their re-employment was not certain. Staff members are bracing for these inevitable changes, which will likely occur during the summer months. Continue reading »

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Mar 172016
 
People sleeping in the doorway of a Royal Street business this past weekend. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

People sleeping in the doorway of a Royal Street business this past weekend. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Sunday morning during an early walk through the CBD and French Quarter, I encountered more than two dozen homeless men and women sleeping in the doorways of some of our city’s most fashionable establishments. While I paused to shoot a photograph on Royal Street, a State Police cruiser passed right by, unfazed. Whether people are sleeping (or eating or anything even more personal) in a vestibule, outside the Cabildo, or along the Moonwalk, it’s an unsightly, unsanitary situation that negatively impacts tourism and everyone’s quality of life. Continue reading »

Mar 032016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The recent announcement that former state senator and current chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Foster Campbell, has thrown his hat into the U.S. Senate competition is just another sign that Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana’s Democratic Party are preparing to aggressively compete against the state’s Republican Party in every race. Continue reading »

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Jan 212016
 

Whether we live Uptown, in Uruguay or Uzbekistan, we are all impacted by oil and the global economy. Though many sectors of New Orleans economy like real estate and technology are prospering, the war in the Middle East and its related immigration crisis, China’s economic slowdown, the broad impact of the continuing drop in oil prices coupled with new state and local taxes on the horizon could squeeze many lower and middle class New Orleanians in 2016. Continue reading »