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 »

Oct 102013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

So who gets to decide how many judges are too many? Mayor Mitch Landrieu has strong feelings on the subject, based on his own experiences when he was in the private practice of law and his observations from the mayor’s office. There are too many judges and the money devoted to supporting empty courtrooms and under-worked judges could be better spent if the money was instead in the city’s general fund, Landrieu says. Continue reading »

Oct 032013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Even Tulane alum Allan Katz thinks that Mike Perlstein of WWL and Gordon Russell of the Advocate certainly did a bang up job on their first-rate investigation regarding Tulane’s century-old scholarship program.  Like many old habits in New Orleans, there is an aversion to change.  But change is definitely necessary for this program. Continue reading »

Sep 272013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We were pleased to hear Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s remarks yesterday in Washington. The epidemic of youth committing crimes is a national problem that every city faces. New Orleans and many American cities are strapped for cash and don’t have the available resources to implement clear solutions. It would be great if Congress allocated funds to create innovative programs that would address the problem.

But we think the real issue lies in economic equity for young African Americans. With the unemployment rate of African-Americans in New Orleans reaching almost 50%, it is quite easy to see why young men (and young women) commit crimes every day. The future does not seem bright for them. Excellent programs like Each One Save One and the new male mentoring program at McDonogh #35 High School can and do address the problem. But much more is needed – jobs are needed for adult black males and females and for their children. Continue reading »

Sep 192013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We were shocked and saddened this week about the latest developments in the Danzinger Bridge case.  Who are the worst perpetrators?  The cops who tried to cover up what they had done? The U.S. Attorney’s Office for using anonymous blogs to spin their tale? Or the Justice Department, while charged with providing oversight for local U.S. Attorneys, almost turned a blind eye to what might be going on here in the Big Easy. Continue reading »

Sep 122013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In our opinion, C. Ray Nagin was the worst mayor of our lifetimes. It is entirely possible that Nagin was the worst mayor in New Orleans’ 295-year history, going all the way back to the French and Spanish chief executives whom Danae has been studying recently.

However, being a terrible mayor is not of itself a crime. Later this month, a jury will be convened in federal court to consider whether accepting some $200,000 in cash and gifts, along with several truckloads of free granite, is indeed a federal crime. The jurors will presumably hear Nagin’s Chief Administrative Officer Greg Meffert and big-time vendor Mark St. Pierre, both of whom are currently doing time in the federal pen. Continue reading »

Sep 062013
(photo courtesy Jacques Morial)

(photo courtesy of Jacques Morial)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In a few weeks, civil rights advocates from across the nation will come to New Orleans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the city’s largest civil rights march that took place on September 30, 1963.

At the time, Allan was a first-year reporter at the States-Item, New Orleans’ afternoon paper. The editorial pages of The Times-Picayune and States-Item were adamantly opposed to the civil-rights movement then gaining steam throughout the South. The newspapers’ opposition to civil rights was based on the theory of “States Rights,” which held that the federal government had no right to impose an end to segregation on the sovereign states of the United States. Today, we all know how that has turned out in the last 50 years but, at that time, it was legal linchpin to the fight conducted in the courts by segregationist entities. Continue reading »

Aug 222013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Several weeks ago, we wrote a column listing a number of reasons why Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to move City Hall to the iconic but empty Charity Hospital was an excellent idea.

In the course of our interview with him, Pres Kabacoff said he hoped that the Civil District Court judges would reconsider their plans to build a new Civil District Court building in Duncan Plaza – adjacent to the current City Hall on Loyola Avenue – and instead decide to join Mayor Landrieu’s administration and the City Council in the move to Charity.

That all seemed reasonable enough to us, but then we received a visit from Civil District Court Judges Michael Bagneris and Kern Reese who told us the court is dead set on building their own structure and won’t be swayed by the mayor to move to Charity. Continue reading »

Aug 152013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Although Wednesday’s announcement by the New Orleans Community Data Center showed several great signs in the New Orleans economy, it also pointed several great disparities that do not bode well for New Orleans’ future.

Yes, our economy is diversifying beyond tourism, we weathered the recession better than most cities, home sales have increased, our number of new entrepreneurs is high, and construction jobs are on the rise since Katrina (no kidding). All great stuff to be sure. Continue reading »

Aug 082013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We are amazed by the changes over the years in the voting public’s perception of candidates involved in sexual scandals.

To put our views in some kind of context, you should know that Allan started covering politics in 1963 at the old States-Item and Danae worked in her first political campaign as a 12-year-old in 1962. She grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas and, campaign veteran that she was, was a blue chip worker in Bill Clinton’s first campaign – a race for Congress in 1974 which he lost but later won a few.

In the 1960s and early 70s, it didn’t take a sex scandal to put a candidate in trouble. Back in the day, a candidate running for the first time who had a divorce in his background was in serious trouble. Voters did not like divorces, although incumbents who had proved their electability could survive a divorce, especially if they re-married and the new wife embraced the political life and was a good campaigner. Continue reading »