Viewpoint: Business leaders courting state Rep. Royce Duplessis for mayoral run

With qualifying for New Orleans municipal races just five months away, New Orleans business leaders are still scrambling to find a candidate they consider suitable to challenge Mayor LaToya Cantrell. District 93 state Rep. Royce Duplessis recently rose to the top of that list after a poll showed he would be viable in the race. 

Duplessis distanced himself from the poll and denied any current mayoral ambitions when asked about it Wednesday (Feb. 17), stating that, while he may be considering his future options, “challenging the incumbent mayor is not one of them.” 

Duplessis is one of the few elected officials who supported the election of DA Jason Williams, who is one of Duplessis’ closest allies. Business Council Chairman Henry Coaxum and Executive Director Coleman Ridley are both Williams’ donors along with HRI’s Pres Kabacoff. It’s no secret that many members of the business community are disappointed in Cantrell’s style and decision-making process.

Viewpoint: Troy Carter leads fundraising in race for Cedric Richmond’s seat in Congress

In documents filed yesterday with the Federal Elections Commission, state Sen. Troy Carter reported a fundraising haul of $405,118, far exceeding any of his opponents including state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who raised $301,140 and Gary Chambers Jr. who reported $106,463. Carter, Carter Peterson and Chambers are among the 15 candidates vying to replace former Congressman Cedric Richmond, now a top aide to President Joe Biden. 

The filings covered fundraising activities through Dec. 31, 2020.  Political consultants estimate this race will cost about $1 million.    

During the reporting period, Carter spent only $26,687.50, leaving him with $378,430.50 in cash on hand. Carter received $48,350 in contributions from political action committees and $353,968 from individuals – almost evenly split between “high” donors who contributed more than $250 and “low” donors who contributed smaller amounts.  Almost 90% of Carter’s donors are Louisiana residents. What is impressive in Carter’s report is the dozens of individual donors who made the maximum contribution — $2,800.  Richmond’s endorsement of Carter’s candidacy almost certainly led to the steady flow of funds. 

Individuals in the $2,800 category include a Who’s Who of New Orleans legal and business community including Rico Alvendia, Cherie Teamer, James Garner, Anthony Irpino, Gladstone Jones, Leopold Sher, Bob Ellis, Joey Murray, Anthony Marullo, John Litchfield, Sundiata Haley, Troy Henry, Chris Coulon, Nathan Junius, Moe Bader, Dr. John Hamide and Ronald Bordelon.

Viewpoint: Fluctuating Entergy bills frustrate consumers

Understanding utility regulations is like playing chess. There are lots of parts and pieces – some players can control and others they cannot. Making the wrong move can lead to expensive consequences for consumers.  Many New Orleanians have been perplexed by the ever-changing fuel adjustment charges and other unanticipated costs that appear on their monthly bill.  

What’s a customer to do? After the demise of NOPSI, the City Council gave Entergy New Orleans the legal right to supply the city with reliable, affordable gas and electric power so that homes and businesses are relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Entergy New Orleans is also a business that has a financial obligation to its investors to turn a profit.

Viewpoint: Candidates offer new voices for Second Congressional District voters

Charter school co-principal Mindy McConnell and small business owner Jenette Porter —along with state Sen. Troy Carter, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers — all qualified yesterday for the open Second Congressional District seat recently vacated by former U.S. Rep Cedric Richmond, now a high-ranking aide to President Joe Biden. Qualifying continues until Friday (Jan. 22) at 4:30 p.m.  The race will be fast, furious, expensive and very competitive. The entrance of McConnell and Porter into the race will make the campaign more interesting to a wider range of voters. McConnell, 37, is a Libertarian who believes that it’s time to break up America’s two-party system.

Viewpoint: Political newcomers Desiree Ontiveros and Gary Chambers Jr. prepare to qualify for congressional seat

“Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s happening,” said Desiree Ontiveros about yesterday’s congressional vote to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time. A Latina who moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Ontiveros, 39, has formed an exploratory committee to seek Louisiana’s the Second Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond. 

Also recently announced for the race is Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers Jr. Qualifying will begin Wednesday, Jan. 20, and continue through Friday, Jan. 22. A sixth-generation native of El Paso, Texas, Ontiveros attended New Mexico State University and received a degree in marketing from California State University in Los Angeles.  She considers New Orleans a “special city” that welcomed her with open arms. 

In 2016 Ontiveros started the Badass Balloon Co.

Rouses and Breaux Mart respond to social media frenzy and calls for boycotts

Two local supermarket chains, Rouses Supermarkets and Breaux Mart, issued statements Thursday afternoon in response to a social media furor over their owners’ political activities. On Wednesday night, Lamar White Jr., the editor of Bayou Brief, posted a photo on Twitter of Rouses co-owner Donald Rouse Sr. and a former Rouses executive, Steve Galtier, from Galtier’s now-deleted Facebook page. It was taken at Wednesday’s pro-Trump demonstration in Washington, D.C. and originally posted to show that not everyone at the rally was maskless. The photo went viral — setting off a frenzy of tweets and calls to boycott the store. Then writer Michael Tisserand replied to a tweet that “Breaux Mart is better anyway” with examples of pro-Trump Facebook posts from Barry Breaux, the owner of Breaux Mart.

Viewpoint: It will take more than a vaccine to restore America’s spirit

Amid an Epiphany Day marred by an unanticipated insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the state’s highest COVID rates, 87-year-old Isiah Steele received his long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination at New Orleans East Hospital. “I am so blessed to have gotten this vaccine,” said Steele, before lighting a candle at the Shrine of St. Jude. “I will sleep a little easier tonight.”

Steele has been locked down in his family home since mid-March, where he has fretted about his grandson, a senior soon to graduate from LSU, and his caregiver daughter, who goes to work almost every day despite the pandemic.  “While I worry about their health and safety, I am mourning the loss of a year of my life at a time when I don’t have too many years left,” he said. 

A chronic voter, Steele is also troubled by how ugly and divisive politics have become. “I pray that our elected leaders will seek consensus, get the virus under control and everybody back working again.

Viewpoint: Piper Griffin, Jason Williams to ring in 2021 with fresh promise; Lambert Boissiere eyes Richmond’s seat

As a newly elected Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice, Piper Griffin takes the bench on Monday (Jan. 4), she said she is humbled by the overwhelming support from the community. “I want to thank the people of New Orleans for the opportunity to be of service and the trust they place in me for such an important position,” Griffin said. 

Joined by her mother Betty Griffin, a retired Charity Hospital nurse; sisters Kaci and Lisa Griffin; nephew Keenan Fortenberry; and ministers Rev. Samuel Gibbs Jr. and Pastor Calvin Woods Jr., Griffin took the oath of office Monday (Dec. 28). Her formal investiture, a public event, is tentatively scheduled for Jan.

Viewpoint: City faces challenges in reaching herd immunity and retooling economy

 

By almost every measure, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has done a yeoman’s job of keeping COVID-19 at bay in New Orleans, albeit at great cost to our tourism-driven economy. Now that the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have reached the region and Moderna’s vaccine is not far behind, Cantrell must face her next big hurdles: convincing enough citizens to get inoculated so that we reach herd immunity, and retooling the economy to better address the city’s long-standing workforce issues. 

Convincing skeptics that the vaccine is effective and without adverse side effects will be a daunting task for Cantrell. A  Gallup poll of 3,000 adults nationwide taken earlier this month reported that only 63% of Americans would be willing to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. 

The vaccine’s effectiveness will be measured not only by how well it works but by how many people agree to be vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has estimated that 75% to 85% of the population will need to get the vaccine before herd immunity is reached. There has always been a relatively small group of Americans who have opposed vaccinations over safety concerns.