Letter to the editor: City has alternatives to raising parking-meter rates

By William Khan

Hiking the cost of parking meters would be economically counterproductive and regressive. It would take a greater bite of incomes from service workers, and it would be especially harmful to the hospitality workers and businesses that make the city’s economic engine—tourism—run. Our city needs creative solutions to its fiscal crisis. Taking more money from workers who have not seen an increase in the minimum wage and who are grappling with a rising cost of living is not the answer to New Orleans’ budgetary woes. Here are four practical alternatives to raising parking meter rates.

Letter to the editor: Public investment in O.C. Haley Boulevard is getting results

By Mary Beth Romig

In response to the recent opinion from Owen Courreges in the October 19, 2015 issue of Uptown Messenger, I would like the opportunity to share good news about what the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) has accomplished in terms of commercial revitalization and affordable housing, specifically in the two neighborhoods Courreges mentions. First, with regards to Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, NORA has invested more than $8 million in support of commercial revitalization. Among them, the once dilapidated Myrtle Banks School is now home to several non-profit organizations. We have invested in both the internal renovation and external restoration of the New Orleans Mission, so that the Mission can better serve the city’s homeless population. Other non-profits we have invested in on the Boulevard include Good Work Network which provides business development services to minority and women-owned businesses and Café Reconcile which provides life skills and job training program to improve the lives of our city’s at-risk youth.

Letter to the editor: Defend Planned Parenthood’s crucial services in Louisiana, despite smear campaign

By Social Work Students United for Reproductive Freedom at Tulane University

As Social Work students, we are concerned about the deceitful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides vital health care services to 2.7 million Americans each year. In Louisiana alone, Planned Parenthood annually provides 16,000 visits in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans for services that include birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and treatment, and other preventative healthcare such as much-needed sexual health education. This smear campaign is part of a 10-plus year pattern of harassment and violence by extremists whose focus is banning abortion and preventing women from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. The group behind this video smear campaign is a part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement. They have been behind the bombing of clinics, and the murder of doctors in their homes and in their churches.

Letter to the editor: Data, history support medical uses for marijuana

By Brendan Valentine, David Brown and Kevin Caldwell

According to Dr. Ken Roy, the passage of Louisiana’s Senate Bill 143 is “a sad day for science, a sad day for medicine and a sad day for the State of Louisiana.” Dr. Roy is concerned that it isn’t currently feasible to expect physicians to prescribe a Schedule I substance, due to FDA regulations. He also strongly implies that there are no legitimate therapeutic uses for marijuana in a natural form. Although Dr. Roy correctly notes that marijuana does not fit flawlessly into the current regime of prescribable drugs, this is in large part because the federal government for years has blocked the type of research he would like done. However, Dr. Roy fails to note that marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years and there is ample evidence it can alleviate serious suffering, including wasting, chronic muscle spasticity, seizure disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and nausea related to chemotherapy, etc… Dr. Roy also claims that enactment of this law will increase teens’ marijuana use, however, data from other medical marijuana states shows the opposite — typically a correlation between a passage of medical marijuana laws and a decrease in teen use. Allowing seriously ill Louisianans to legally access a treatment with a long, safe, and effective history of therapeutic use represents a good day for science and a good day for medicine.

Letter to the editor: New Orleans should not honor America’s enemies with memorials

By Marc H. Morial

Nowhere else in the world but in the American South do a small and diminishing minority of citizens still celebrate and revere the military leaders who waged war and committed treason against the nation they claim to love. Most have moved on to an enlightened viewpoint of the New South – multicultural, diverse, dynamic and forward-thinking. Nowhere else in the world could Owen Courrèges even attempt his absurd argument that New Orleans should honor an enemy of the United States because he died in the city. Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid in South Africa, died in Cape Town, but you will find no shrines to his memory there. New Orleans’ real heroes are Louis Armstrong, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt and numerous beloved cultural icons who are known and revered worldwide. For too long, some have tolerated the lie of “The Lost Cause,” the sugarcoated illusion of the South’s bitter past. The leaders of the Confederacy were enemies of the United States, defending the most horrific system of brutalization and terrorism our nation has ever known. If we call ourselves Americans, we have no business worshipping America’s enemies.

Letter to the editor: Libraries have improved since 2011 report, but funding needs remain

By Susan Larson

The New Orleans Public Library is so grateful for Jewel Bush’s warm and thoughtful article about the New Orleans Public Library; we appreciate her support and her advocacy — and her patronage! I am writing this as the secretary of the New Orleans Public Library Board, of which I have been a member since 2011. Much has transpired since the drafting of the consultant’s report cited in the article. To clarify: After years of revolving door leadership of acting, interim, consulting or poorly prepared library directors after Hurricane Katrina, the Board appointed Charles Brown, a nationally recognized library leader, as City Librarian/Executive Director of NOPL. This was in late 2011, after the report was drafted.

Guest column: Renters need more protections from unfair landlords

By Elizabeth Elliott, Davida Finger and Melissa Gallo

While the City has many responsible landlords, all too often in our practice at the Loyola Community Justice Clinic, our clients face landlords who refuse to repair substandard housing, wrongfully withhold deposits at the end of leases, try to illegally evict in order to rent to Mardi Gras tourists and other offenses that take advantage of the landlord-friendly laws. Louisiana has lagged far behind other states in protecting renters, and Senate Bill 298 is an attempt to find the correct balance between landlord and tenant rights and interests. Senate Bill 298 requires that a security deposit be returned in 14 days.  Under the current process, it can easily take up to three months for the deposit to be returned, and based on our experience representing low income tenants, for many, the deposit is wrongfully withheld without explanation.  Currently, there are 15 states that require a deposit returned in less than 30 days after the termination of a lease. Of those, at least seven other states require a landlord to return the deposit within 14 days.  Tennessee requires the deposit returned within a shorter period: 10 days. While 14 days may not seem like a lot of time for the landlord to “assess damage and receive estimates for repair,” it is a reasonable balance between the landlord’s interest to be compensated for damage and to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible, and the tenant’s interest to be able to acquire the deposit to put down for a new residence or to replenish their savings.

Letter to the editor: Support the Freret Neighborhood Center at happy hour Thursday

By Liz Jurey, Freret Neighborhood Center

Have you ever wondered what happens in that yellow and red double shotgun house on Freret Street? You might be surprised to learn about the incredible work being done behind those blue doors! The Freret Neighborhood Center helps to offer resources to the Uptown / Central City area by providing access to a computer lab that is open to the public, conducting an afterschool program, organizing neighborhood clean-up efforts, and much more! We engage approximately 1,200 people, including residents, children, university students, as well as local and visiting volunteers. This is a unique space where people from all walks of life are able to gather and work towards the betterment of this region.

Letter to the editor: Audubon has earned New Orleans’ continued support

By Brooke Duncan III

It’s unfortunate that some have taken to social and other media to bash Audubon, one of the truly great success stories of local government in our time. The millage started out at 4.2 but was reduced a few years ago as a result of a state-wide reassessment of property values when values declined following Katrina. Without getting bogged down in semantics, the tax has been in place for a long time and the proposal returns the millage to its prior level. The difference for a home valued at $200,000 has been reported to be around $12 a year. The current taxes will end in 2021-2022.

Letter to the editor: Side streets, school traffic need more attention during Uptown drainage projects

By Clark Thompson

If you live in Uptown New Orleans, you’ve probably had the misfortune of driving on Octavia street in the past few months. The US Army Corp’s SELA project effectively closes Jefferson Avenue, and ends up sending lots of traffic onto Octavia, and the wear and tear of additional use is destroying the street. And the street is destroying cars, but that’s already been covered. At last night’s meeting about the Napoleon Avenue leg of the project, the US Army Corps of Engineers offered no plan to solve this oversight, and this must be addressed, but first let me ask you a question. You, my neighbor, have to do sewage line repairs in front of your home, and in the process, you dig up the sidewalk and the street, such that you leave the sidewalk impassable for months.