New Orleans Thanksgiving 2020: Socially distanced Creole Oyster Dressing

Below is the Oyster Dressing recipe I’ve prepared since 2006. It was recorded at the elbow of my cousin Velma, then 93. At 4-foot-10, still whip-smart and eternally feisty, she bossily instructed me in “the right way” to prepare the family dressing for an “authentic Creole New Orleans Thanksgiving.” Her recipe cards and everything else she’d owned were stolen a year before “by that hussy Katrina,” her sobriquet for the hurricane. The recipe she passed down that day, first prepared by her family in the 1800s, had been committed to memory during Prohibition.

Viewpoint: Who would succeed Cedric Richmond if he leaves Congress for the White House?

For months now rumors have been building that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond will join President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration in an executive capacity. Though Biden has yet to make a formal announcement, many candidates are already lining up for what will surely be a fierce competition to replace Richmond in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.   

Since last week’s election, a new poll has been conducted by John Anzalone, Biden’s pollster, that looked at five candidates already considered to be the prime contenders – former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, state Sen. Troy Carter, state Sen. Cleo Fields and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson. Any of these candidates would be considered serious players in a district stretches from Orleans Parish through Jefferson and up the River Parishes ending in Baton Rouge. Not surprisingly, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, now a CNN contributor, ranked first in the poll with 25%. Landrieu served four terms as a state legislator as well as two terms each as mayor and lieutenant governor.

Viewpoint: Support public safety officers threatened with furloughs

People are getting desperate. Led by an increase in homicides and aggravated assaults, the crime wave sweeping across New Orleans and America can be blamed in large part on COVID-19 and the economic turmoil it has caused. A recent Council on Criminal Justice analysis of homicide rates in 27 U.S. cities found that the sheer number of crimes increased sharply during the summer months.  Overall domestic violence and carjackings are also skyrocketing together with drug and gang violence.  

Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s almost singular focus on reducing the virus in Orleans Parish has successfully limited hospitalizations and deaths, especially as the virus’ latest wave is wreaking havoc nationally. We applaud her for those efforts. Yet its accompanying financial devastation is driving up crime in New Orleans as desperate individuals resort to reckless acts to put a few dollars in their pockets.  

Along with a very real concern about how to pay the bills during New Orleans’ stalled economic recovery are factors such as an increase in gun sales, mental health issues such as depression, boredom and a lack of interaction with others. 

New Orleans is a poor city where the Police Department has perpetually been understaffed and underpaid by regional and national standards.

Yo Joe: A Realtor’s Q&A with New Orleans interior designer Maureen Stevens

I’m Joe Gerrity, local businessman, investor and Real Estate Broker. For my Yo Joe! column, I’ll be answering your real estate questions and providing market information special to New Orleans. Part of being in real estate and offering superior, across-the-board services comes with making connections in the housing industry – for us, that includes everything from construction workers to interior designers. Today, we met with our new friend, Maureen Stevens, owner of Maureen Stevens Design.

Viewpoint: Women of color and progressives ruled the day in Orleans Parish races

From Keva Landrum to Chanel Payne, women of color and younger progressive-minded voters were the big winners in New Orleans’ election earlier this week.  Women of color were candidates in 21 of the 25 local races on the ballot and won outright or earned a runoff slot in almost every one. 

Progressives qualified for many of the School Board and judicial seats. It’s not just the candidates who were the victors but the men and women behind the scenes who poured their sweat and hard-earned money into the contests. A much-needed new generation of elected officials and consultants will continue to emerge. In the race for district attorney, former Judge Keva Landrum benefited from strong fundraising and her ability to stay on message despite attacks by outside interests. She also has to thank her besties, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and Mayor LaToya Cantrell, for their push.

Viewpoint: Time is running out to vote by mail

Like almost every other city and town in the nation, New Orleans enjoyed a record-breaking early voting period during which 98,259 Orleans Parish residents cast their votes for president, seven constitutional amendments, sports betting, and an alphabet soup of local races. While the vast majority of Orleans voters – 86,979 – visited one of the five early voting locations, 11,280 citizens mailed in their ballots. Almost 100 mail-in ballots have been received since early voting ending. Today (Oct. 30) at 4:30 p.m. is the last day and time to request a mail-in ballot.

Viewpoint: Business leaders eyeing potential challengers to Mayor Cantrell

Although qualifying for New Orleans mayor, City Council and other municipal offices is still eight months away, many of the same conservative business leaders who gave Mayor LaToya Cantrell the seed money that launched her campaign have begun the painstaking search for a new candidate. “LaToya won’t be mayor much longer,” said one multi-millionaire businessperson who was an enthusiastic early donor. Though many business owners had become disenchanted with Mayor Cantrell, they were willing to work with her for another four years until COVID-19 soured relationships.  “I’m not surprised that the business community is going to put a candidate up against the mayor,” said Ed Chervenak, UNO political scientist. “They are upset that she is not following the lead of Gov. Edwards, who has opened up the state much quicker than Mayor Cantrell has opened up Orleans Parish.

Viewpoint: An open letter to Mayor Cantrell: Only New Orleans can save New Orleans

Dear Mayor LaToya Cantrell:

Long gone are the days when the Louisiana Legislature is willing or even able to solve New Orleans’ financial problems, especially in the years of ever-tightening budgets and Republican dominance of the upper and lower chambers. Though we appreciate you asking state leaders for an extra share of available federal dollars, surely you knew in advance it was a futile attempt.  

Every city and town in Louisiana is hurting, especially those that have been hit once or even twice by storms this season. Legislators are elected to bring home the bacon. How could they explain to constituents that additional funding for New Orleans should be their priority?    

The very people that can save New Orleans from even greater economic disaster are the citizens of New Orleans – the business owners small and large who are desperate for customers; the Saints fans who want to watch the games from inside the Superdome; the music lovers who want to dance at Tips, the Maple Leaf or on Frenchmen Street; the foodies who want to linger inside their favorite bistros or savor chef Meg Bickford’s new Sunday brunch at Commander’s Palace.  

The ongoing regional and national media coverage detailing New Orleans still-strict COVID-19 restrictions has scared away many potential visitors. It has put a damper on conventions returning, on national developers’ willingness to invest in our city, and on the ability of too many citizens to eat, pay the rent and keep their utilities on.  

We’re proud of your role in ensuring that Louisiana is one of the few states that has handled COVID-19 effectively and that cases are not exploding in our city.

Viewpoint: Campaign finance reports provide bird’s-eye view of race

With the Nov. 3 elections just weeks away, the newly released campaign finance reports provide a long-awaited snapshot on how the various local races are unfolding. Several trends are evident.  

Money is tight in almost every race across the board, forcing most candidates to dip into their own pockets to keep going and also attract donors large and small from outside the region. With the exception of law firms and supporters of the new PAC for Justice, many members of the business community have been sitting these races out, perhaps not realizing how important they are to public safety and quality of life. Finally, a number of more progressive donors, their associated consultants and style of campaigning are bringing generational change to our politics.  

Going into the final few weeks, which judicial candidate reported the most cash on hand?