Aug 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Jul 312014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond.  While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected.

In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. Continue reading »

Jun 262014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose. Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation.  Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is. Continue reading »

May 292014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Snuggles is a New Orleans dog, born and bred — a 2-year-old mixed breed with probably more terrier in him than anything else. About a year ago, Snuggles was a lonely street dog, mostly eating out of garbage cans.

One day, a stranger swept him up and brought him to the Louisiana SPCA. After getting some really good food, shots, spayed and regularly bathed, Snuggles was ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, no matter how cute Snuggles was, he always seemed to come in second. Fortunately for Snuggles, fate smiled on him. SPCA Executive Director Ana Zorrila was getting calls from shelters in the Northeast and Midwest looking for puppies to be adopted. Continue reading »

May 222014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America. Continue reading »

May 152014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The Krewe of Banana is returning to the Port of New Orleans and we couldn’t be happier. The Port of New Orleans has undergone a great resurgence in recent years – at least they are one agency that Governor Bobby Jindal cuts less frequently than most others. Continue reading »

May 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Now that all the glitz and glamour of Monday’s inauguration is over, it’s time to get down to business. First on the list should be how the Mayor and Council are going to come up with all the millions to fund the two consent decrees and the firefighters’ judgment while keeping money flowing to other agencies in need, like the public libraries and the Sewerage and Water Board. Continue reading »

Apr 172014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The conventional wisdom is that former Governor Edwin W. Edwards can’t be serious about running for the open seat in the Sixth Congressional District or, if he is serious, has no chance to win.

The 86-year-old Silver Fox, still looking good and as engaging as ever, made it as clear as he could at a recent reception that drew hundreds of his Metro New Orleans friends that he is running, expects to run first in the Nov. 4 primary and believes he’ll have a chance in the Dec. 6 runoff against whichever Republican comes out of a crowd of candidates to take him on in the general election. Continue reading »

Apr 102014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The City’s announcement last week that after months of meetings, negotiations were still ongoing with Gatehouse Capital should prompt the New Orleans Building Corporation to re-open the bid process and invite new proposers.

This is especially true with several new Council and NOBC members coming on board in a few weeks and the change of NOBC leadership when Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant moves on to the Sewerage & Water Board.  With the multi-million dollar high-end outlet mall by the Howard Hughes Corporation set to open at the Riverwalk next month, the WTC development project would attract new bidders – possibly including the Hughes group. Hughes’ portfolio is very diverse and the WTC could be a good fit for them, especially if they do not choose to build condos or a hotel on top of the Riverwalk in a second phase. Continue reading »

Apr 032014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We have been watching with much interest the national and Louisiana debate regarding increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The latest polls show that support is growing across the nation, although only seven states and the District of Columbia have raised starting pay.

According to today’s New York Times, Louisiana is one of five states – the others being Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that currently does not have a minimum wage. Washington State has the highest wage ($9.32) currently with D.C. to move to $11.50 in 2016. While both those rates might be too high for Louisiana’s economy, something must be done to give our lowest paid citizens a better opportunity to succeed in life. Continue reading »

Mar 272014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In the last 50 years, there have been many Directors of Aviation at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport but few about whom there was any urgency to retain them. But the current Director of Aviation, Iftikhar Ahmad, is one of the hottest guys in the nation in his field of work and the New Orleans Aviation Board is giving him a $35,000 a year raise that he didn’t ask for because they want to keep him here.

Restaurateur Ti Martin, a member of the Aviation Board, says, “He has come to have a lot of affection for New Orleans and the region and we need to lock him to finish what he has started.” Continue reading »

Feb 272014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s always fun to go to the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall because you never know who you are going to run into. Last night’s ball was a jam-packed but chilly affair with plenty of women in stunning backless, strapless creations and masks. The first people Danae saw crawling out of a big SUV were James Carville (New Orleans best known media darling) and Ryan Berni, the Mayor’s former press secretary/campaign manager who is now contemplating his next step. Could Hillary’s campaign be on Berni’s horizon? Continue reading »

Feb 202014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Voting is one of the most treasured rights of every American. But it is amazing how many people either never register or find some excuse not to vote. Then of course there is the perceived voter fatigue caused by having too frequent elections, failure to educate oneself on the issues, or being too lazy to physically go to the polls.

With early voting set to begin March 1, political eyes will be watching to see what impact voter apathy – due in part to our love of all things Mardi Gras – will have on voter turnout for the March 15 runoff elections for Council At Large, Council C, Sheriff and Coroner. In the primary election held on February 1, approximately 12,000 voters cast their votes early and a much smaller number voted by mail. Continue reading »

Feb 132014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Good for the jurors who yesterday found former Mayor Ray Nagin guilty on 20 of 21 criminal charges in federal court.

Those of us who have watched Nagin closely for the eight years he was in office believe Ray thought he could con the jury, just as he fooled New Orleans voters in the 2002 and 2006 mayoral elections. His hubris brought to mind Danae’s initial impression after Ray’s emergence as a major candidate in the 2002 election. “Ray is a rock star,” Danae said. “He’s cool, handsome and clever. Ray’s not about substance. He’s about being Ray.” Continue reading »

Jan 162014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

How many of you watched the season premiere of Duck Dynasty last night and watched it for the first time because of Phil Robertson’s outlandish but right-in-character remarks? How many of you think that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had no idea that his staff were orchestrating a traffic calamity as pay-back for a lack of endorsement? Christie is lucky that the problem occurred now – so early in the presidential campaign – and probably recoverable, though time will tell for sure. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

That old Morial magic still works.

When the invitations went out from National Urban League CEO Marc Morial’s office for a Friday luncheon at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, you could feel the stir in the political community. Last Friday, with the restaurant closed for the private event, there wasn’t an empty chair in the place. Continue reading »

Nov 212013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We could not let this week pass without commenting on the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death. Allan was a reporter at the States Item Picayune when Kennedy died and actually met and talked with Lee Harvey Oswald during a trip to the newsroom just weeks before. Allan’s memory of Lee Harvey Oswald 50 years ago is that Oswald was considered a very weird, insignificant guy who was an advocate for Fidel Castro, not a very popular point of view in 1963 New Orleans. At the time, Danae was in junior high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Continue reading »

Nov 072013
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Mayor Landrieu could be encouraging his CAO Andy Kopplin to enter the At-Large Council race against Stacy Head in order to preserve his legacy when the Mayor runs for Governor, according to the hottest rumor circulating among politicos lately — and the theory may make some sense. Continue reading »