Danae Columbus: Villere touts Republican successes in Louisiana

Louisiana Republican Party chair Roger Villere believes Louisiana citizens are already living the “new American dream,” that President Trump described in his SOTU speech Tuesday night. In Washington this week for the annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee where President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also are speaking, Villere praised Trump’s remarks. “I believe that SOTU speeches matter and Trump’s will help his poll numbers significantly,” Villere said yesterday. Indeed, the latest Monmouth poll shows that President Trump’s approval ratings have taken an upward swing after all-time lows in December. The longest serving state GOP chair in the U.S., Villere was recently honored by numerous state and national GOP officials including former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at the Elephant Stomp, LAGOP’s premiere fundraiser.

Danae Columbus: Addressing climate impacts could become New Orleans’ equalizer

This week’s tropical storm Cindy is just the latest example that the New Orleans region and the entire Gulf Coast must become better at living with water rather than merely struggling to defeat it. From powerful waves breaking over the sea walls on Lakeshore Drive and in Covington to flooding caused by storm surge in Venetian Isles, Myrtle Grove and Grand Isle, we must employ what the Dutch call “inventive urbanism” to make our towns and cities more resilient. Though President Trump suggests climate change is not a reality, residents along America’s coasts probably don’t agree. More cities and states are paying attention to the lessons from Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy. Storm surge warnings are becoming commonplace.

Danae Columbus: New Orleans political consultant finds opportunity in Trump’s election

Early next week New Orleans based Republican lobbyist Brian Trascher will be escorting CEO Ed Carlson of Odyssey House New Orleans to meet with former Georgia Congressman Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump. “It will be my first meeting with a cabinet member,” said Trascher proudly. Trascher meet Trump and his attorney in 2011 in New Orleans and offered to help if Trump ever ran for president. When Trascher received the call, he jumped onboard to play an important role in Louisiana and around the country. Trascher says he knew Trump was going to win about a week before the election when he saw the change in direction of highly targeted phone banks he was supervising in other states.

Tulane law scholars to discuss Trump’s ban on travel from Muslim countries

A panel of experts from Tulane Law School on Wednesday afternoon will discuss the executive order by President Trump that attempted to halt travel to the United States from seven Muslim countries before it was blocked by a federal judge. The “Implications of Executive Action on Immigration” panel discussion will run from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in room 110 of Tulane Law School at 6329 Freret Street. Panelists will include immigration and refugee-law expert Laila Hlass, immigration law professor and lawyer Kathleen Gasparian, former State Department diplomat Kali Jones, constitutional law professor Stephen Griffin and human-rights professor Adeno Addis.

Danae Columbus: Why Congressman Richmond will attend Trump’s inauguration

Though recent polls (including one from the Wall Street Journal/NBC News) call President-Elect Donald Trump the most unpopular incoming President in decades, more than a thousand Louisiana residents including Fenn French, Louis Gurvich, Adrian Bruneau, Eric Skrmetta, Brian Trascher, Billy Nungesser, Jeff Landry, and State Republican Party Chair Roger Villere with granddaughter Madison are taking in all the Washington’s sights and sounds this week in preparation for the 45th Presidential Inauguration. Villere – who has been in the nation’s capitol all week – rattled off a long list of tantalizing events in addition to the inauguration itself for well-heeled insiders, including a breakfast hosted by the Louisiana Congressional Delegation at the Capitol Hill Club, the RNC Prayer and Praise Worship Celebration, a special event with long-time Beltway titan Newt Gingrich, a pre-inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial, and Trump’s wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Earlier this morning, Villere attended the RNC’s gathering where former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel, became RNC Chairman. She ran unopposed, of course. Villere was pleased to be appointed to McDaniel’s transition team.

Danae Columbus: Former Congressman Bob Livingston praises Trump on Larry King

Former Congressman Bob Livingston, now a Washington D.C.-based lobbyist, told talk show host Larry King on Tuesday night that President-Elect Donald Trump is making a good start on his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington. “President-elect Trump has hired some outstanding people and is headed in the right direction,” said Livingston. Livingston, who represented Louisiana’s first Congressional District for 22 years, was one of the first lobbyists to endorse Trump’s presidential bid back in March, 2016. Though Livingston initially supported the failed presidential campaign of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he quickly jumped onboard with Trump to counter the “Never Trump” movement. Livingston says he only met President-elect Trump once but has been in touch with his transition team.

Danae Columbus: Steve Scalise basks in Republicans’ prospects for the New Year

House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise took his own victory tour this week when area Republicans came to honor him as their Man of the Year. An early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump and nationally recognized as a conservative leader, Scalise will have Trump’s ear and the ability to shape legislation to benefit Louisiana. In his introduction of Scalise, long-time friend Jeb Bruneau reflected on Scalise’s early political days at LSU where he was twice served as speaker of LSU’s student government association. After a brief career as a systems engineer, Scalise was elected to the Louisiana House in 1996 and later to the State Senate before winning an easy race for Congress in 2008. His district includes a slice of Uptown New Orleans and Lakeview as well as all or parts of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St.

Will connections to Congressman help or hinder investigations into sex workers’ deaths?

When journalist Ethan Brown began researching the interconnected, unsolved slayings of eight women in rural Louisiana for what would become his new book, “Murder in the Bayou,” he knew he had immersed himself in a chronicle of the abuse of police power and easily discarded lives. What Brown didn’t know until much later, however, was that a central location in those women’s lives and deaths would lead him straight to a well-known employee of U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, in a connection that is now drawing more attention than the unsolved murders themselves. “That was a really surprising moment, to say the least,” Brown said. “I never imagined it would be someone who works for a Congressman.” Brown — whose work has appeared in publications like Rolling Stone and The New York Observer and whose most recent book was the acclaimed “Shake the Devil Off” — began researching the unsolved killings of the women known as the Jeff Davis 8 in 2011.

In New Orleans, U.S. Senate candidate Caroline Fayard calls for student-debt reform, equal pay for women

In the competitive race for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by David Vitter, attorney Caroline Fayard sought to distinguish herself in a New Orleans campaign stop Saturday by focusing on two themes that have played a role in this year’s Democratic Presidential primary — reducing the burden of student debt to spur small-business creation, and promoting equal pay for women. Fayard’s rally and fundraiser — hosted at Urban South Brewing on Tchoupitoulas Street by council members Susan Guidry and Jared Brossett, as well as other local Democrats — began with an introduction by brewery founder Jacob Landry that could not have fit better with her themes. The brewery has been open only four years, Landry said, but the journey to its creation began years ago when he was able to attend college debt-free through the state TOPS program. After college and graduate school (funded by AmeriCorps and scholarships), Landry was able to begin saving his wages immediately to buy a house, and then later was able to use that house as collateral to open the brewery, he said. Had he been burdened with student debt, however, his now-growing business would never have gotten off the ground.

Danae Columbus: With Gov. Edwards’ help, Foster Campbell brings U.S. Senate race to New Orleans

Dozens of heavy hitters from throughout metro New Orleans arrived at the Windsor Court Tuesday night to greet Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell who, according to a poll released yesterday, is the leading Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter. The fundraiser was hosted by Gov. John Bel Edwards whom Campbell endorsed early on and raised significant dollars for last year. Fans of the governor will automatically like Campbell because of his common sense, straight-talking approach. Though qualifying does not take place until mid July, if early trends persist Campbell will find himself well positioned in the November primary election. Having served an as elected official for more than 39 years, Foster was a savvy leader in the Louisiana Legislature before joining the Public Service Commission where he has been a strong advocate of the working class.