Viewpoint: Proactive policing needed to combat surge in violent crime, MCC says

The Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC), New Orleans’ premier criminal justice watchdog agency, is urging the New Orleans Police Department to refocus on violent offenders during a time when shootings and murders are surging and fewer arrests are being made for violent and weapons felony offenses. A new MCC analysis shows that there is currently a high community demand for police services. They recommend that the NOPD reinstitute a centralized task force model that allows police to strategically identify and target violent felons who continue to pose a threat to community safety. “Every violent crime that goes unresolved by arrest fuels the vigilante cycle of retaliatory justice, thereby diminishing public confidence in law enforcement,” said Rafael Goyeneche, MCC president. “The foundation for prosperity is built upon public safety.

Viewpoint: Before Kamala Harris, a very long battle for women in politics

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ selection as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee — and potentially the most consequential vice president in American history — is the crowning glory of more than 150 years of incredible work by countless suffragists who first fought for the right to vote and later battled for unfettered access to the top echelons of U.S. government. Though Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, Shirley Chisholm and others mightily aspired to reach the White House, polls currently show that the Biden-Harris team has more than a fighting chance to meet that goal. As America remembers the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which cracked open the doors for Harris and many others, there is no better way to celebrate than registering a friend or family member to vote. History tells us that the national women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, which was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Mary Ann McClintock.   

The suffrage movement started a little later in Louisiana because of an antebellum-influenced view of the Southern lady, delicate as a magnolia blossom in the spring.  Southern males believed the women’s rights movement could only be attributed to an inferior Northern culture and likened it to abolitionism.  Equality of the sexes was a blatant disregard of social distinctions, according to author Armantine M. Smith writing in the Louisiana Law Review. In 1861 men began leaving home to fight in the Civil War, thereby compelling womenfolk to take the lead in caring for children and the elderly.

Viewpoint: Nuns at Xavier Prep set Judge Piper Griffin on her path

As she campaigns to become the second Black female and third Black jurist to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court, Civil District Court Judge Piper Griffin, 58, credits the nurturing she received during her teen years at Xavier Prep for her courage and tenacity. “The nuns told me I could do anything if I put my mind to it, and I believed them,” said Judge Griffin. Her first dream, however, was to become an astronaut. “I loved exploring and being exposed to different things,” she said. When Judge Griffin began college at the University of Notre Dame, she realized aerospace engineering was not her forte.

Viewpoint: Will Judge Bonin enter the race for district attorney?

An alphabet of sitting judges quickly appeared yesterday at the Clerk of  Criminal Court’s office yesterday morning to qualify for re-election. Judge Kern Reese wore a traditional white linen suit and carried a straw hat, as did Judge Ben Willard. Judge Paul Sens was handsome in seersucker. The theory is that incumbents qualify on the first day to ward off challengers. One jurist who was conspicuous by his absence was Criminal  Court Section D Judge Paul Bonin, rumored to be entering the race for district attorney.

Viewpoint: Road to judgeship began with bus ride to Tulane University

 

When Terri Love arrived on the Trailways bus from her native Birmingham, Alabama, to attend Tulane University School of Law on a scholarship, little did she know that almost 30 years later she would be seeking a seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court. The daughter of two civics teachers, Judge Love had always planned to run for mayor of Birmingham until she met Judge Israel Augustine, who convinced her that the judiciary was her true calling. A member of the Louisiana Court of Appeal 4th Circuit, Judge Love proudly points to what she calls her exceptional legal training, extensive post-law-school judicial education, 25 years of appellate and trial court service and ongoing commitment to public service. “These are challenging times, but I am very excited about running for our state’s highest court,” Judge Love said. “I believe my credentials have prepared me to serve.

Viewpoint: Classroom lessons guiding local math teacher’s Senate campaign

 

“America needs a national plan to deal with COVID-19 that includes testing and PPE in order for our schools to re-open safely,” said New Orleans math teacher Peter Wenstrup, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 3 election. One of four candidates challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Wenstrup announced his candidacy July 1 via video and social media. 

Wenstrup points to the return of the NBA and the aggressive testing program within President Trump’s inner circle as examples of how life and operations can continue “close to normal” when regular testing and personal protective equipment are available. “It represents a failure of leadership when we don’t have that same level of support for regular people,” he said. 

A native of Seattle and longtime resident of Cincinnati who attended Brown University, Wenstrup moved to New Orleans because he was looking for “a warm and inviting place where people valued people first.” Wenstrup visited the city once during college and wrote every school in New Orleans looking for a job before receiving an opportunity from Lusher’s CEO Kathy Riedlinger. He began work on Jan.

Viewpoint: Longtime watchdog gives Chief Ferguson an A for handling of NOPD during pandemic and protests

Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche said yesterday that NOPD Superintendent Shaun D. Ferguson deserves the highest accolades for his handling of the department since the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests began. “Chief Ferguson has been dealing with an issue that no police chief has had to deal with in 100 years,” Goyeneche said. “In the context of New Orleans, look at some of the unrest in other cities around the country. I want to give him nothing but an A as to the way things have gone here. “New Orleans had our George Floyd awakening 15 years ago on the Danzinger Bridge.

Viewpoint: Free COVID 19 and antibody tests offered at DePaul Community Health Centers

DePaul Community Health Centers, formerly known as Daughters of Charity Health Centers, are offering free COVID 19 and antibody tests at nine of their 10 locations in metro New Orleans.  DePaul is working in partnership with Louisiana Health Care Connections and Quest Diagnostics to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in under-served communities. Tests available include the COVID 19 PCR test, which will confirm an active virus, and the COVID 19 IgG serology test, which will identify a previous infection. Though free PCR tests are offered at several locations across the city, DePaul is currently the only provider of free antibody testing. Because I might have contracted the virus before Mardi Gras, I signed up for the serology blood test at the DePaul Uptown campus, 3201 S. Carrollton Ave.  I had previously tested negative for the virus. The health center’s attending physician, Dr. Frank Pascualin DePaula, provided clear and concise information about the antibody test and its benefits.

Viewpoint: Mail-in ballots are essential for the safety of Louisiana voters

Who wants to potentially put themselves or their family members at risk by voting at a poll on upcoming election days? With Louisiana’s presidential primary and other ballot measures now scheduled for July 11, state officials are squabbling over how to hold safe elections during the pandemic and beyond. Newly minted state Rep. Mandie Landry, District 91, pre-filed House Bill 419, to allow all registered voters to utilize voting by mail in every election. Co-authored by Reps. Aimee Freeman, District 98, and Matt Willard, District 97, this legislation would impact the November elections and beyond.

School Board seeks candidates to finish Ben Kleban’s term

Orleans Parish School Board member Ben Kleban will step down from his District 5 post on June 15, and the board is looking for someone to finish out his term. Kleban announced his resignation in March, saying in an email that he and his wife and three children plan to move to Washington State to be closer to their extended family. Before joining the board in 2017, Kleban founded and led the charter school network New Orleans College Prep, which operates Hoffman Early Learning Center, Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep elementary school and Walter L. Cohen College Prep high school. The Orleans Parish School Board will appoint someone to finish his unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31.