It is often said that prefacing bad news with good news helps soften the blow. We have now cross the threshold into 2016, which seems to be giving New Orleans equal parts of each. Thus, at the risk of sounding trite, I have some good news, and some bad news.
New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has really thrown down the gauntlet vis-à-vis his support for gun control. Next year, he plans to lobby the Louisiana legislature to pass an unconstitutional anti-gun law. Not only that, he actually expects the NRA to aid him in his endeavors.
Whenever anybody engages me on the issue of self-defense, my mind always wanders to the case of Warren v. District of Columbia.
That case began on the morning of March 16, 1975, when two men broke down the back door of a rooming house on Lamont Street in Washington, D.C. The intruders soon encountered Miriam Douglas, a woman who lived on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter.
“Citizens of New Orleans, as your mayor, I am mindful of the ever-increasing cost-of-living in our fair city. Wages are not keeping pace, and many of our most economically vulnerable workers feel that they can no longer afford to live here.”
“For too long, your elected leaders have not only ignored this problem, but abetted it. Today, I pledge to ensure that we do better by our citizens – that we make their lives easier, not more difficult.”
You can file the above under “Things Mayor Landrieu Will Never Say.” Under his watch, the cost of pretty much everything has skyrocketed. Taxes, water rates, fees – they’re all higher. If Landrieu has the slightest notion of how this has affected the lives of the people he serves, he hasn’t been inclined to show it.
There was a time that I got a mild chuckle out of reading the old bumper sticker – New Orleans: Third World and Proud of It. The idea, of course, is that New Orleans is a poor city with inefficient, corrupt government, hence more akin to a developing nation than a prominent American city. Self-deprecating humor and all that.
However, it’s started to hit a bit too close to home lately. Last week we endured yet another “boil water” advisory for the east bank of Orleans Parish in the wake of a brief, 20-minute failure of the plant’s power generation capacity. It was the tenth such advisory in just five years.
It’s so cute. Mayor Landrieu has a secret admirer!
This past week, Chief Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin wrote to the city council announcing that the city had estimated the cost of removing three monuments to Confederate leaders (Lee, Beauregard, and Davis) plus the notorious Liberty Place Monument, which Mayor Landrieu believes are divisive symbols that make black people feel bad. The total price tag? $144,000.
I think, by this point, I’ve managed to establish myself as a critic of the current mayoral administration. If Mayor Landrieu has an official fan club, I am not a member. I find his usual gaggle of sycophants and hangers-on downright nauseating.
That being said, one would think that I am clapping my hands with glee with the recent announcement that Judge Kern Reese held Landrieu in contempt and sentenced him to house arrest in the decades-old lawsuit regarding firefighters’ longevity raises. However, I am not.
Today is Labor Day. Of course, with it being Labor Day, I started out writing this column with a single question boring into the recesses of my mind.
“Do I really need to write a column for Labor Day?”
The answer, of course, is no. That would be work, and today celebrates the backbone of the American system, the American worker. As all of us toil away our lives, squandering our precious dreams on jobs we probably don’t enjoy, we need a moment to celebrate both our shared sacrifices and creeping miseries.
We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in case you’ve been locked in a closet for the past few weeks and have thus been spared the maudlin, self-indulgent navel-gazing of every commentator that comes down the pike.
For some, Katrina was an opportunity seized. The guiding narrative is that of a city in decline that took advantage of adversity and emerged stronger. It’s a characterization of Katrina that’s equal parts appalling and inaccurate. We are not in a better position as entire swaths of neighborhoods lay in ruin and our population is greatly reduced.
The City of New Orleans is sending a message, loud and clear: Free public parking lots? You’ve had a good run, but your days are over.
I worked in the CBD a few years back, and initially I opted to utilize the free parking underneath the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expessway overpass. Although homeless people tended to congregate in the area nearest to the New Orleans Mission, the area further down by St. Charles Avenue tended to be wide open.
“Trust me, I’m a federal prosecutor.” You can almost hear the words come from his mouth. Sure enough, with his latest initiative, U.S. Attorney Louisiana Kenneth Polite is asking us for a great deal of trust.
Polite recently announced a bold plan for reducing gun violence in New Orleans. He proposed a joint effort between his office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Orleans Police Department, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Crimestoppers, to investigate and prosecute federal gun crimes.
At first blush, this sounds like exactly what gun-rights advocates have been crowing for. Authorities often seem to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to enforcing existing gun laws, leading to calls for more burdensome regulation.
Alas, it rapidly became clear that Mssr. Polite’s plan is not something that law-abiding gun owners will be sanguine about.
New Orleanians have long suspected that our drivers (like our government) are completely ignorant of the law. There’s some basis in fact for this view. A 2013 study found that Louisiana had the worst drivers in the country.
Former New Orleans mayor and textbook narcissist Marc Morial has come out in favor of Mayor Landrieu’s plan to remove four Civil War memorials located throughout the city. The erstwhile mayor, now head of the Urban League, proceeded to immediately put his foot in his mouth.
“Those symbols represent division,” Morial explained. “I don’t think Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard really had ties to the city.”
Apparently Morial’s grasp of Civil War history, even as it directly concerns the city he led for two terms as mayor, is just as lacking as his humility. While Lee had no major ties to New Orleans in particular, Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans and was originally buried here.
They finally won. Live entertainment at Mimi’s in the Marginy is no more. After fighting for three years, first with the city and then with its neighbors, Mimi’s finally threw in the towel this past Wednesday.
Few people today recognize just how devastating the Civil War was, especially for the South. The war resulted in over 750,000 deaths. The South lost roughly a quarter of its male population of military age — 4 percent of its total population. It constitutes the largest mortality event in American history.
Set against this backdrop, it comes as little surprise that memorials were built throughout the population centers of the South to commemorate the military and political leaders of the Confederacy and the soldiers who served under them. Though the war was lost, the memories remained.
Yet, according to Mayor Landrieu, the days of Civil War Memorials in New Orleans are numbered. In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Charleston, perpetrated by known Neo-Confederate and white supremacist Dylan Roof, virtually anything associated with the Confederacy is seen as a target.
One of the chief headaches one gets from monitoring the news cycle relates to the fact that it isn’t self-correcting. A tiny seed of disinformation grows to become a sturdy tree of conventional wisdom.
This is what happened with the so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws following the shooting of Treyvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman. Most recently, it was criticized in a recent column by Jarvis DeBerry after being invoked by Algiers Pastor W.L.T. Littleton, who is accused of shooting a fleeing copper thief in the back of the head.
There’s no getting around it: Central City is an impoverished neighborhood.
In 2013, Karen Gadbois and Craig Mulcahy summed up the situation in Central City nicely: “[Y]ou’re still within sight of the Superdome, but have no doubt about it: The tracks may be nonexistent, but you’re on the wrong side of them.”
With Central City’s depressed economic state, one would think that public officials and the nonprofit community would focus on promoting businesses that provide goods and services that serve a lower-income demographic. However, the opposite has been the case.
Plea bargaining is one of the hallmarks of an efficient criminal justice system. The prosecutor saves time and effort. The city collects a fine and court costs. The defendant receives a break on the offense charged. In theory, everybody is happy.
Alas, Mayor Landrieu is apparently not happy. His administration has decided to end the process in traffic court.
One of Aesop’s fables is that of the young crab and his mother.
“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said the mother crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”
“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”
Mother crab tried in vain to walk straight forward, but she could walk only sideways, like her son. When she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.
The moral of the fable? Don’t tell others how to act unless you can set a good example. And local government could learn something from it.
There’s an old episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge is mugged and the police are useless to catch the perpetrator. Nevertheless, Marge conquers her own fear and anxiety, managing to capture the guy who did it single-handedly.
Police Chief Wiggum arrives at the scene and proceeds to lecture the gathering crowd. “She caught her own criminal, unlike the rest of you lazy bones.”
The crowd begins to look down sheepishly. “You’re not gonna find those criminals looking at your feet, people,” Chief Wiggum chastises.