Dec 102015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

On the fourth day of the ancient Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, President Barack Obama told an audience of 500 people that freedom can prevail over tyranny. Hope can triumph over despair. Light can prevail over darkness.

Today we are seeking the light in two divisive issues, Donald Trump’s controversial call to block the entry of all Muslim refugees to the United States, and the best solution on our very own monument controversy. Though very different, both issues are bringing out the best and worst in people and reminding us of dark times in our past. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcements about the rise of armed robberies and that Councilmembers Jason Williams and Susan Guidry want to prioritize funding for 911 operators both illustrate the importance of better funding agencies involved in criminal justice.

“We are one mistake away from disaster and tragedy,” said Williams, who serves as Council President. “And it is unacceptable.” Continue reading »

Oct 292015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Dr. Jeffery Rouse, New Orleans’ recently elected Coroner, is one of the standouts among a new generation of leaders in the city.

He is bringing sunshine, energy and a new concept of community service to an office that had become a medical slum under former Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard. Dr. Rouse brings great academic credentials to the office – a 1992 Jesuit High School valedictorian and a Duke University Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Rouse is energetic, optimistic and visionary. He is completely reorganizing the office and has convinced fellow Jesuit alum Mayor Mitch Landrieu to grant a 23-percent budget increase to the perennially underfunded Coroner’s Office. In December, if all goes well, the Coroner’s Office will move to spiffy new quarters in the under-construction Forensics Center on Earhart Boulevard. Continue reading »

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Oct 012015
 

Witness_to_Change

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Sybil Haydel Morial would have led a very privileged life growing up in New Orleans in the 1940’s and 1950’s had it not been for the South’s all-encompassing Jim Crow laws. Her father, Dr. Clarence C. Haydel, was a well-respected surgeon in the community; her mother, Eudora, was an accomplished housewife who loved to cook, garden and entertain in the family’s well-appointed home. Sybil was surrounded by many loving aunts, uncles and cousins as well as her older sister Jean who suffered an untimely death. She attended the best Catholic schools, spent the summers in the country, traveled to Europe and had a memorable debut. As a teenager, Sybil enjoyed the company of family friend Ambassador Andrew Young who wrote the foreword to the memoir before his death.

But the harsh realities of segregation and how it impacted her life every day defined Sybil. It also drove her to become a teacher, civil right activist, arts patron, husband to New Orleans’ first African-American mayor — Dutch Morial — and mother to our third, Marc Morial. Sybil’s new book, Witness To Change, is a compelling, easy-to-read story about Sybil and Dutch — told from Sybil’s perspective. Continue reading »

Aug 272015
 
Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Former Mayor Marc Morial and Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussion the state of New Orleans together. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

For many New Orleanians life has never been the same since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, and their sense of community. Katrina was an experience they do not want to relive on this or any other anniversary. For them, the grief process is ongoing. African Americans especially feel the rules were stacked against them, making their recovery even harder. Continue reading »

Aug 202015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to do a better job of estimating the risks of flooding around the U.S. With the upcoming 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – much of whose destruction was caused by poorly engineered and maintained levees – we naturally think about the heavy losses to our region, what it has taken to rebuild, and all the people who died or have not been able to return. Continue reading »

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Aug 132015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s no secret to political insiders that State Treasurer John Kennedy has his eyes set on David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat if Vitter is elected governor. Vitter would be in a unique position to recommend his successor and could easily select Louisiana’s popular Republican State Treasurer. Kennedy is now running a television commercial that depicts himself as a statesman worthy of voters’ support. Kennedy is also starting to be a stand-in for Vitter, defending the U.S. Senator on several tough issues. We should all expect more of that coziness as the campaign continues. Continue reading »

Aug 062015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Today’s debate at the New Orleans City Council is another symbolic step in the long-term struggle for New Orleans’ working poor to earn the living wage they deserve to support their families.

Though New Orleans has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Hurricane Katrina as well as an influx of skilled young professionals, we still rank second in income inequity among 300 U.S. cities. In fact, income disparity in New Orleans has increased in recent years, according to the New Orleans Data Center. Continue reading »

Jul 302015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

If Saturday night’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner is any indication, Louisiana Democrats feel their time is coming again soon. Recent polls show State Rep. John Bel Edwards neck ‘n neck with U.S. Senator David Vitter. “We can only go up from here,” Edwards told the packed ballroom. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is saving his money for the run-off in the Lt. Governor’s race and presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders delivered his fiery brand of liberalism to a large, enthusiastic, stomping, waving, cheering crowd at the Pontchartrain Center Sunday. Continue reading »

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Jul 232015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Scrappy New Orleans entrepreneur Kishore “Mike” Motwani’s $8.175 million purchase this week of Oz, New Orleans premiere gay dance club, this week is another sign that this often-despised self-made millionaire puts his money where his mouth is. Much to the dismay of ardent preservationists, Motwani is living the American Dream by remaking downtown New Orleans in his own image. Continue reading »

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Jul 162015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With qualifying less than 60 days away, local candidates are wanting lightning to strike to drive interest and money into the fall legislative races. Will lightning strike twice for School Board member Leslie Ellison as she takes on popular State Sen. David Heitmeier? As a physician and Chair of the state senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, Heitmeier played a leadership role in the passage of medical marijuana. Continue reading »

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Jul 092015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What are the two M’s (Mitch and Marlin) fighting about now? We hear it’s FEMA dollars originally designated for Templeman II. Sheriff Marlin Gusman technically has them. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants them.

Both Landrieu and Gusman are smart, well-educated, strong-willed but obstinate elected officials, each used to getting his own way. By not endorsing former Sheriff Charles Foti two years ago, Landrieu paved the way for Gusman’s re-election and this current issue. Continue reading »

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Jul 022015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Because our ancestors hailed from countries where freedom was not free, we firmly believe that a big part of the American Dream is the freedom to run for public office. Actually, we are eternally grateful that so many Americans in cities large and small are willing to risk their personal privacy and accept inevitable criticism while articulating their ideas on how our democracy should operate. Whether we like the positions candidates take or not, we still appreciate their First Amendment right to speak up – which our ancestors could not do without fear of death or reprisal.

Earlier this week we spoke with two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Republican religious rights conservative and former governor of Arkansas, who was meeting with a small group of supporters at Ralph’s On The Park. Huckabee is clearly fulfilling his vision of the American Dream. Continue reading »

Jun 252015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Conservative religious-freedom advocates still exist in America, and Gov. Bobby Jindal must connect with every single one of them if he is going to break out from the bottom of the pack to become a real player in the Republican presidential nomination race.

The ballroom at the Pontchartrain Center was packed to the gills yesterday with mostly white, flag-waving believers as Jindal made his highly structured announcement for President of the United States. The event started out with recorded messages from Archie Manning and former Gov. Mike Foster, Jindal’s mentor and former employer. His logo is a sparkling red and blue “J” that almost looks like a Christmas decoration. Continue reading »

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Jun 182015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Obviously hungry for new leaders at the state level, New Orleans voters had three opportunities yesterday to hear from various candidates for state-wide office, now that campaign season is ramping up after the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, and PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle were generally congenial and complimentary of each other as they addressed a group of 1,000 predominately Westbank voters at the Alario Center very early yesterday morning. Continue reading »

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Jun 042015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Generally speaking, we like Police Chief Michael Harrison and the NOPD. We think Chief Harrison is at least trying to do a good job within the budget and directives set by Mayor Landrieu. But there are serious neglect-of-duty and abuse-of-power issues hovering over the NOPD including yesterday’s City Council dialogue on the mishandling of sex-crime and child-abuse cases.

It is unfortunate that Chief Harrison did not address this problem before being forced to do so by a scathing report from IG Ed Quatrevaux. Even though Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook complied some frightening statistics that found wide-ranging administrative policy violations, no officer has been disciplined in the seven months since Quatrevaux’s initial report because of the prevailing good-old-boys network inside the NOPD where they protect their own. Continue reading »

May 282015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Landrieu that the MacArthur Foundation was providing $150,000 for a study regarding our high incarceration rates was good news indeed. New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate per capital of any jurisdiction in the country — quadruple the national average. Since 2010 we have jailed more than 10 out of every 1,000 residents. Why does New Orleans and Louisiana incarcerate so many people — especially African-American males, who make up 90% of the prison population? Continue reading »

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Apr 232015
 
Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Public Service Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle (at right) is joined by Phil Nugent (left) and Bob Edmundson at a recent campaign event in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

As Acadiana-based gubernational candidate and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle made the rounds at a Cajun Fais Do Do held in his honor last night in New Orleans, he reminded the close to 100 attendees that Louisiana voters have a history of electing governors who hail from Acadiana — Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco — and that several of our recent governors — Mike Foster and Buddy Roemer — were early dark horses.

One of nine children whose father headed up the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries department and passed down his passion for the environment, Angelle was quick to differentiate himself from front-runner U.S. Senator David Vitter and his old boss Bobby Jindal. Continue reading »

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Apr 162015
 
Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Official photograph of Abraham LIncoln, taken Nov. 8, 1963. (source: Library of Congress)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Americans rich and poor, old and young, paused yesterday to remember the 150th anniversary of the assassination of America’s first martyred commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often considered America’s greatest president, polling way ahead of even George Washington.

A self-educated lawyer born in Kentucky’s western frontier, Lincoln became an early leader in the newly formed Republican Party and always spoke out against the expansion of slavery. Lincoln won the presidency by sweeping the North, causing the Confederate States of America to be created even before he was sworn in as America’s sixteenth president. Continue reading »

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Apr 022015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Louisiana donors will get their first chance to view former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s all-but-declared presidential candidacy up close and personal when Bush comes to New Orleans on April 15 as the special guest at U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s fundraising reception. Dozens of Louisiana’s heavy-hitter Republican donors — and a few Democrats too — are sure to find their way to the Metairie estate of Joe Canizaro, one of the most prolific bundlers in the Gulf South. Continue reading »

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