Viewpoint: Progressives show mainstream clout in the sheriff’s race

With the Dec. 11 runoff election just nine days away, the candidates and the political action committees behind them are wasting no time getting out their last-minute messages — mostly in the form of attacks. Though not officially on the ballot, the construction of an 89-bed special needs jail is at the heart of this year’s competition between Sheriff Marlin Gusman and former Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson. Gusman won 48% of the vote in the primary while Hutson ran second with 32%.  

With the Sheriff’s Office still under the federal consent decree, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s posturing has made it clear: build a special needs jail from scratch and commit the resources to operate it or face the consequences. It’s hard to disagree in public with a federal judge.

Viewpoint: Will incumbents rule the day in Saturday’s election?

Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s re-election became even more of a certainty after her announcement Tuesday (Nov. 9) that she is abandoning the idea of relocating City Hall to the Municipal Auditorium in Armstrong Park. Even with the anti-Cantrell vote and the personal support her 13 opponents have garnered, Cantrell is still expected to take it in the first round. Four years ago she won with 60% of the vote. Opponents who could win at least a small portion of the votes include small business owner Vina Nguyen, fitness expert Leilani Heno and activist Belden Batiste. 

Many of the other incumbents on the ballot might not coast to victory as easily as Cantrell.

Viewpoint: Charter school is perpetuating Robert Mills Lusher’s racist legacy

By Corinne A. Williams, guest columnist

The pandemic along with the racial reckoning in our country and, most recently, Hurricane Ida have all put New Orleans’ kids in a position to experience a collective trauma — much like people my age experienced after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to traumas already thrust upon them, children attending Lusher Charter School are attuned to many internal school-related traumas. Their school leaders have put their best interests last for one of the simplest things that they have control over: the name of their school. Lusher Charter School is named for Robert Mills Lusher, a Confederate tax collector, segregationist and unabashed member of the Crescent City White League. By today’s standards and any anti-racist standard, Mr. Lusher would be someone who should be unequivocally rejected as a person to name anything after.

Viewpoint: After years of protest, Lusher Charter School could be renamed … Lusher Charter School

By Dana Eness, guest columnist
Lusher Charter School’s long-awaited name change may come as soon as the next meeting of the school’s board, the Advocates for Arts-Based Education, on Nov. 11. This follows a very painful and very public reckoning for the namesake of an avowed White supremacist, Robert Mills Lusher. It is the hard-earned outcome of marches and other forms of protest, resistance and attempts at dialogue with the administration led by students and alumni of color and supported by allies. The outcry continued in earnest following the murder of George Floyd in the spring of 2020.

Viewpoint: Soft early-voting numbers portend low election turnout

With Covid-19 and Hurricane Ida, plus Jamie Winston’s torn ACL and Michael Thomas’ ankle injury, New Orleans voters are burned out. Although we are in the process of electing a mayor, City Council members and other municipal officials, many New Orleanians don’t even know or care about what’s on the ballot. The early polls are proof of this.  We’ve already passed the midway point in early voting for the Nov. 13 elections.

Viewpoint: How will election apathy affect the statewide constitutional amendments?

With the unusual level of apathy that has pervaded this year’s election cycle, supporters of the four constitutional amendments on the ballot are naturally worried that the few citizens who plan on voting will just skip over them. “Voters tend to ignore ballot measures that they know nothing about,” said one consultant yesterday. Still, supporters and opponents of the various initiatives are pushing ahead toward election day, Saturday Nov. 13. 

Ballot language can be confusing — and sometimes even misleading. Voters should read and study the amendments carefully.  

“I encourage people to read about all of the amendments and visit information sources like the Public Affairs Research Council and the Louisiana Budget Project,” said state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman. 

Constitutional Amendment 1 would streamline how state and local sales taxes are collected by creating an electronic filing and remittance system.

Viewpoint: Sheriff Marlin Gusman on the special needs facility, compliance order and his tenure as sheriff

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman spoke with the Uptown Messenger about the changes that have occurred in his office and in the criminal justice system during his more than 15 years as sheriff as well as the challenges ahead. Gusman is currently a candidate for re-election and has four challengers: Quentin Brown Jr., Janet Hayes, Susan Hutson and Christopher Williams.

Danae Columbus: Tell us about your background. Where you were born, educated, degrees or certifications you may have received. Sheriff Marlin Gusman: I am a native of New Orleans, born on the West Bank and married a 7th Ward girl who continues to this day to be my best partner and friend. Renee and I have been married for 43 years, raised our family in Gentilly, where we continue to live.

Viewpoint: Crime among the issues plaguing New Orleans in Hurricane Ida’s aftermath

Times are tough since Hurricane Ida decimated New Orleans, and they don’t seem to be getting better quickly enough. 

Blue tarps dot the horizon as homeowners wait for their insurance settlements. Storm debris is disappearing slowly, and trash pickup is down to one day a week. Entergy wants to take a hike rather than face the music. Whether the utility stays or goes, utility rates will probably rise. The cost of flood insurance is increasing along with the cost of gasoline, a hamburger at McDonald’s and grocery store staples, the latter blamed on international supply chain issues. 

It’s hard to drive around New Orleans long without encountering a pothole or other obstruction.  Neighborhood streets will probably flood during the next heavy rain.