On Monday, Mayor Landrieu honored his vainglorious pledge made earlier this year to when he signed a new gun ordinance. The final draft of this absurd farce of legislative dreck was mercifully stripped of all provisions that completely merely mirrored existing state law. This left only three remaining restrictions.
Oscar Wilde once called experience “the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” In this sense, it is very useful to discuss Austin’s “experience” in building commuter rail. You see, commuter rail was originally envisioned as a remedy for congestion and an environmental boon, a sound investment in transportation infrastructure.
Instead, it turned out to be a cautionary tale, one New Orleans would best heed.
I’ve only been to New York City once in my life, on a family vacation when I was in my early teens during the notorious reign of Mayor David Dinkins. We stayed in a hotel on Times Square rising high above the debauchery below.
After we arrived, I ventured off briefly on my own to see a smattering of strip clubs, peep shows, purveyors of adult materials and the like. There was virtually nothing I could legally enter. I finally caught sight of a video arcade, which seemed wholesome enough. It was wallpapered floor to ceiling in pornography.
I awoke as the shots rang outside my bedroom window in the wee hours on Saturday. By the time I emerged from my house, wearing a garish, plaid Sears robe with my trusty shotgun in hand, there was nobody to be seen save a lone security guard. He crept forward from Eiffel Society, a venue down the street, his pistol drawn and at the ready.
The police arrived, shutting off the 2000 block of Prytania, but aside from collecting a few random shell casings there was ostensibly little investigation to be performed.
Naturally, I was unnerved by the experience. However, my fear was not turned against a mere instrumentality. Alas, the same cannot be said of the reaction of many Americans to the mass shooting that took place a week ago in Orlando.
“These modern verandahs . . . afford a perfect shelter from the sun and weather, to passers by the front of the houses to which they are attached. In sultry climates, the necessity of shade from the sun, to health, and comfort, has universally introduced the custom of balconies or verandahs; which in this respect, are equally beneficial to the inmates of the houses, and to wayfarers.”
Durant v. Riddell, 12 La. Ann. 746, 747 (La. 1857)
“It is a matter of public and judicial history that galleries, or ‘verandas,’ as they are also called, have been sanctioned by usage in New Orleans almost from time immemorial.”
Lambert v. American Box Co., 144 La. 604, 611 (La. 1919).
An iconic feature of New Orleans architecture, particularly in the French Quarter and present on most historic commercial strips, is the wrap-around, double-balcony – also called a “gallery” or “veranda” – that extends over the sidewalk. They serve not only as an attractive architectural element and to provide outdoor space for the owners of homes and commercial buildings, but they also shield passers-by on the sidewalk from the elements, thereby providing a public good.
Long ago, the law respecting the idea of sanctuary was embedded in British common law. Fugitives would be immune from arrest in sacred places, such as places of worship. You’ve probably seen a movie where some neer-do-well runs into a church with police on his heels and yells “sanctuary,” as though he’s discovered some trump card against getting caught.
However, sanctuary wasn’t quite the unequivocal boon to absconding felons as it would first appear. If he made it inside a church, the fugitive would then have 40 days to surrender to secular authorities or confess their crimes and be subject to forfeiture of their worldly possessions and permanent exile, i.e., “abjure the realm.”
Perhaps the most crucial skill a citizen can have when viewing the myriad policies proposed by politicians is knowing the difference between that which is substantive, and that which panders. The electorate should know when a politician is genuinely trying to make the world better, as opposed to merely looking like they’re trying to make the world better.
Alas, New Orleanians were exposed to the latter this past Friday, when Mayor Mitch Landrieu, flanked by Councilmembers Jason Williams and James Gray, proposed a five-part ordinance “aimed at promoting gun safety in New Orleans.”
It’s not uncommon for something to sound wonderful that is ultimately a bad idea — “freemium” games, bacon-wrapped pizza, going to Bourbon Street — the list is endless. It’s easy to get whipped into a frenzy by hype or sexiness and ignore practical realities.
That’s the category to which the oft-debated commuter rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge belongs.
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.