Viewpoint: Second Amendment supporters pleased with 2021 legislative session

It was a productive legislative session for advocates of the Second Amendment, according to attorney Dan Zelenka, president of the Louisiana Shooting Association. “Overall, the 2021 session was quite good,” Zelenka said. “Four of the five bills our statewide organization supported — HB 48, HB 124, HB 597 and SB 118 — are now sitting on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk awaiting his signature.”

Although three of the four pieces of legislation sailed through both chambers without significant opposition, Gov. Edwards could decide to veto SB 118, known as the concealed-carry bill. Introduced by state Sen. Jay Morris, R-West Monroe, and passed by a veto-proof majority, the law would allow Louisiana residents who are otherwise qualified to carry a concealed firearm to now do so without first obtaining a concealed weapons permit. Louisiana has always been a state with powerful pro-gun legislative leaders and zealous gun enthusiasts.

Viewpoint: State Police presence is only a Band-Aid to cover the city’s real crime problem

Operation Golden Eagle, the new collaborative partnership between the Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department, began Tuesday (June 1). Though Mayor LaToya Cantrell is unable to quantify exactly how many state troopers are participating, both she and NOPD Superintendent Shaun D. Ferguson are quick to note that the emphasis is on “constitutional policing.”  The State Police officers will also be working in crime-ridden neighborhoods outside the French Quarter.  
In the aftermath of the revelations about Ronald Green’s beating death by State Police officer Lt. John Clary in 2019, some Black leaders are fearful of State Police presence in New Orleans this summer. State troopers attempted to pull Greene over for an unspecified traffic violation on a dark, rural roadside outside of Monroe. After a high-speed chase, Greene was shackled, put in a chokehold, punched, dragged and prodded repeatedly with a stun gun.  The Louisiana State Police covered up that night’s details for almost two years. 

New Orleans had its own police brutality and cover-up problems just after Hurricane Katrina, as seen in the police shootings on the Danzinger Bridge. In the months surrounding the storm, citizens relied on and needed the NOPD to restore order and prevent looting.

Viewpoint: Police reform and crime dominate upcoming mayoral races across U.S.

In New York, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit and even Jackson, Mississippi, crime and police reform have emerged as the go-to issues in the many 2021 races for mayor across the U.S.

As New Orleans’ crime rate continues to escalate and the federal consent decree lingers on, it’s expected that the New Orleans contest will fall in line along the same issues. “We have a rising crime problem. Crime in New Orleans  needs to be an issue in the New Orleans mayor’s race,” said the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Raphael Goyeneche. Announced City Council at-large candidates Kristin Gisleson Palmer and JP Morrell have already signaled their intent to significantly focus on crime. Statistics from the Metropolitan Crime Commission indicate that shootings have increased 132% from 2019 to 2021; that homicides are up 108%; and that carjacking has increased 173% during the same period.  There have been 179 shootings, 77 homicides and 54 carjacking in 2021 to date. Numbers are expected to skyrocket during the warm summer months.

Viewpoint: Cassidy offers support to ensure minority-owned businesses maximize opportunities

In a webinar sponsored Wednesday (March 3) by the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy told participants that his staff in Washington and Louisiana will be available to help resolve problems businesses might encounter when applying for the Payroll Protection Program, Small Business Administration and other funding available from the $1.9 billion federal stimulus package currently in the U.S. Senate. 

“Everybody in my state has a seat at the table,” Cassidy said. Several of Cassidy’s staff members were also on the call to introduce themselves and field questions from participants. 

The pandemic was “a punch in the gut” for cities like New Orleans that depend on tourism, he said. Cassidy congratulated attendees for their work in building businesses that will “employ future generations.”

Cassidy said he expects the economy to grow by 4.2 percent in the coming year, which he called “a good thing” and the highest growth spurt in recent years. “We’re trying to get the economy reopened by trying to control the pandemic,” he continued. Though President Joe Biden’s efforts to include the $15 minimum wage in the stimulus package is now off the table, Cassidy said he would not be surprised if another push was made soon to pass the legislation.

Troy Carter leads congressional field, pollster Silas Lee finds

In a recent poll of 450 chronic voters in the Second Congressional District, state Sen. Troy Carter has a nine point lead over state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, 28 percent to 19 percent. Polling third at 6 percent was Baton Rouge activist was Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers Jr.

Small business owner Desiree Ontiveros came in fourth at 2 percent followed by Gonzales Republican challenger Claston Bernard, who also polled at 2 percent. Collectively the 10 remaining candidates — Chelsea Ardoin, Belden Batiste, Harold John, J. Christopher Johnson, Brandon Jolicoeur, Jenette Porter, Lloyd Kelly, Greg Lirette, Mindy McConnell and Sheldon Vincent — polled at a combined 6 percent.  District-wide, 38 percent of voters are still undecided.  In a heads-up competition between Carter and Carter Peterson the undecided vote dropped to 9 percent. Paid for by Sen. Carter’s campaign, the poll was taken Feb. 12-14 by Silas Lee using landlines and cell phones.  The margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.