Viewpoint: May the New Year restore hope in Ukraine and the Middle East

By Arnie Fielkow, guest columnist

As 2023 comes to an end, we all look forward to a New Year filled with much happiness, good health and fulfillment for ourselves and our family. Yet, while we in New Orleans  have largely enjoyed a year of peace, the same cannot be said for the citizens of our allied nations of Ukraine and Israel. Since February 2022 in Ukraine and Oct. 7 in Gaza, lives have been uprooted and terrible acts have been committed against innocent citizens. The atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists against Israel on Oct.

Viewpoint: Candidates line up to lead the state Democratic Party out of its doldrums

Qualifying for the March 2024 elections got off to a quick start yesterday at the Clerk’s Office, Criminal District Court.  Two attorneys, Dianne Alexander and LaKeisha Jefferson, signed up for open seats in First City Court and Civil District Court respectively. In addition 71 other contenders — including a number of fresh faces of the more progressive persuasion — qualified for Democratic and Republican parish and state committees. Ronald Coleman, president of the local NAACP, was first in line to qualify for re-election to the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee. Yesterday’s turnout was higher than four years ago, when only 48 candidates qualified on the first day followed by 49 the second day and 114 the third and final day for the state political committees. With the poor showing in the fall elections, the Louisiana Democratic Party is clearly at a crossroads.

Viewpoint: Saturday’s elections are important, but voters are not enthused

For the past month, the candidates still in the running for parish and statewide offices have been pulling out all the stops to encourage voters to cast their ballots in Saturday’s (Nov. 18) elections. Only 11,140 Orleans Parish voters took part in early voting last week, the vast majority in person. Orleans Parish ranked sixth overall in early voting turnout behind Jefferson, St. Tammany, Lafayette, East Baton Rouge and Caddo parishes, where more local races on the ballot.

Viewpoint: Does anyone really care about the Oct. 14 elections?

Saturday’s elections for statewide and parish offices along with a number of other ballot initiatives will be the culmination of many months of hard work and millions of dollar spent by candidates, their supporters and public and quasi-public agencies such as school boards. Yet there is a broad swath of voters who are likely to attend their favorite football game or fall festival and bypass the polls. Perhaps that’s why Shawn Wilson was greeting Democratic voters in Alexandria on Tuesday, why Jeff Landry is midway through a series of Diner Dashes in seven cities around the state, and why lieutenant governor contender Elbert Guillory borrowed a jet for a statewide tour this week. 
Early voting was off 42,000 people statewide in comparison to the 2019 statewide elections. The vast majority of those who did vote were 65 and older. On the other end of the spectrum, fewer than a thousand 18- to 20-year-olds made the effort to visit the polls last week.

Viewpoint: Candidates rally their supporters as early voting begins

With early voting set to start on Saturday (Sept. 30), it’s now-or-never time in this season’s campaign cycle. Many mainstream candidates in the race for governor campaigned in metro New Orleans on Tuesday (Sept. 26). Five candidates — Sharon Hewitt, Hunter Lundy, John Schroder, Stephen Waguespack and Shawn Wilson — participated in a morning forum sponsored by AARP in conjunction with The Advocate.

Viewpoint: Leading gubernatorial candidates make their pitches to voters

The three top contenders in the race for governor of Louisiana — Republican Jeff Landry, Democrat Shawn Wilson and Independent Hunter Lundy — recently visited the metro areas to spark enthusiasm for what is likely to be a lackluster, low-turnout election. This trio of candidates — along with State Treasurer John Schroeder, business lobbyist Steve Waguespack and state Sen. Sharon Hewitt — have been invited to participate in a statewide televised debate tonight (Sept. 9). With Attorney General Landry refusing to appear, the event will be informative but lack a clear comparison on important issues. 

Landry has no real need to face off against other candidates. All the polls, including one taken recently by Ron Faucheux, have him way out in front.

Viewpoint: Can the city fix its broken bureaucracy?

Most New Orleanians shudder at the thought of having to go to City Hall to get a permit — any permit. It’s not now, nor has it ever been, a quick, easy or transparent process. The requirements are hard to understand. A staff person might not be available to discuss or explain a puzzling issue, which can add more time and more cost to the already lengthy, expensive process. If citizens are able to actually connect with a live staffer in person or on the phone, that individual might be less than user friendly.

Viewpoint: It’s time to tear down Plaza Tower

Like many downtown residents, whenever I open my front door I catch a glimpse of the decaying Plaza Tower, once the grande dame of Loyola Avenue.  I see the blown-out windows, black netting and colorful graffiti that makes the building an ongoing eyesore. I’ve been in New Orleans long enough to remember when the Plaza Tower was the home or workspace to creatives types like urban planner and artist Bob Tannen and his wife Jeanne Nathan, who appreciated the building’s unique aesthetics. Current owner Joe Jaeger is trying to unload the asbestos-laden structure and the avoid hefty unpaid fines that have caught the attention of Inspector General Ed Michel. 

A 45-story 531-foot skyscraper, the Plaza Tower was the third tallest building in New Orleans when it debuted in 1968 but lost that distinction when the taller One Shell Square opened four years later. The Plaza Tower was designed in the modern style as an office building with a few residential spaces on the upper floors. By 2001, the building was suffering from leaks and deferred maintenance, which created a welcoming environment for toxic mold.

Viewpoint: Republican candidates make their pitches to voters at forum

More than a dozen contenders for local and statewide office addressed a packed house Wednesday (Aug. 16) at the Home Defense Foundation’s candidate forum. The gun-rights lobbying group attracted an array of Republican candidates, including gubernatorial candidates state Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and state Rep. Richard Nelson; secretary of state candidate and grocer Brandon Trosclair; former U.S. Rep. John Fleming and state Rep. Scott McKnight, who are running for state treasurer; attorney general candidates state Rep. John Stefanski and former prosecutor Marty Maley; retired state Sen. Elbert Guillory, who is seeking the office of lieutenant governor; and legislative candidate Charles Marsala, who is running to represent House District 94. “I want to bring integrity back to state government. I recently went to a national conference where I got tired of hearing jokes about corruption in Louisiana.

Viewpoint: Fall elections are shaping up to be a spicy mix

Attorney General Jeff Landry made it official yesterday. He is one of 12 candidates already signed up for ballot’s top spot, with former LABI executive Steve Waguespack and state Rep. Richard Nelson expected to round out the field today. Landry, whose campaign is sitting on more than $9 million as well as a bucket full of endorsements and a giant lead in the polls, is planning a larger-than-life campaign kick-off in the coming days. It may be hard for any candidate to significantly narrow Landry’s lead. Landry is running a tight campaign.