Viewpoint: In the midst of a pandemic, we need to prepare for an active hurricane season

With all the rain we’ve had recently and Monday’s official start of hurricane season, I spent time yesterday ensuring my closest catch basin is in good working condition. After all, New Orleans is a city that floods, especially during hurricane season. With this year’s ongoing pandemic along with predictions of even more storms than usual, getting prepared for the inevitable deluge and updating our personal evacuation plan are especially vital. Weaker trade winds and warmer than normal ocean temperatures might be the official reasons that the National Hurricane Center expects 13 to 19 named storms and three to six Category 3 or greater hurricanes this year. Yet we can’t forget the impact of weather disasters farther up the Mississippi River or the impact of a storm that sits above our city for days at a time.

Viewpoint: Individual efforts are meaningful, but significant federal help is essential

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Every morning just before 7 a.m. Jonathan Rietmaier unlocks the doors of Mammoth Expresso, his popular CBD coffeehouse, so his employees can serve up the aromatic brew and pastries for which his small business is well known. Although strictly take-out these days, Riethmaier hadn’t changed Mammoth’s hours or staffing in an effort to help his five part-time employees. “I am strictly trying to support the hourly wage earners who work for us. I want to help them earn a living so that they do not fall in a vulnerable space,” Rietmaier said. “As long as we can serve our customers in a safe and sanitary environment, we’d like to remain open.”

Though Mammoth does not operate at its pre-corona pace, customers — usually one at a time — trickle in all day long.

Viewpoint: Leaders must demand sheltering in place to flatten the curve

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor LaToya Cantrell are being too soft on New Orleans. With the number of confirmed cases and deaths skyrocketing, our elected officials don’t have the luxury of merely suggesting that people stay home as much as possible. Some form of sheltering in place must become the law of the land if we don’t want martial law and the additional restrictions it will bring. Though it might sound extreme, sheltering in place slowed the virus in China and is currently being implemented in Italy, Spain, Belgium and France. The Ukraine has shut down all transportation.

Mississippi Primary Watch Party

Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington State will all cast their presidential primary votes tonight (March 10). The NOLA Messenger crew is inviting our readers, neighbors, and any political thinkers to join us again to watch the campaign unfold. Our next Democratic Primary Watch Party is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. tonight at Twelve Mile Limit, 500 S. Telemachus St. Political junkies of any affiliation are welcome, and the venue is for ages 21 and up. Messenger merchandise will be available, and drink sales will help support our own coverage of local elections in 2020.

Viewpoint: Criminals are in control because of NOPD officer shortages, Cannizzaro says

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Although he has yet to formally signal whether he will seek re-election in the fall of 2020,
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro gave a rousing address about New Orleans’ many crime problems and potential solutions to a packed crowd of Second Amendment supporters at the Home Defense Foundation’s meeting earlier this week. Attendees included New Orleans independent police monitor Susan Hutson. “We have a crime problem in the city of New Orleans,” said Cannizzaro who has worked in criminal justice for more than 40 years. “Since I first became an assistant district attorney in 1978, I’ve never seen crowds as were gathered at Hynes School in January and at the Jewish Community Center. People are upset.”

Cannizzaro told attendees that a significant part of the problem can be blamed on former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who set in motion the current police manpower shortage by failing to prioritize classes for new recruits during his first term.

Super Tuesday Watch Party with NOLA Messenger

Thanks to you all who have joined us for the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary this presidential election season. With Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar all dropping out of the race over the last few days, the results of the Super Tuesday election events tonight (March 3) will set the tone for the rest of the campaign. The NOLA Messenger crew is inviting our readers, neighbors, and any political thinkers to join us again to watch the campaign unfold. Our Super Tuesday Watch Party is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. tonight at Twelve Mile Limit, 500 S. Telemachus St. Political junkies of any affiliation are welcome, and the venue is for ages 21 and up.

Viewpoint: Is the coronavirus the next Katrina for New Orleans?

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

I am not a naysaying fatalist or someone who rushes to conclusions early. But last night I went to my neighborhood grocery store and picked up 10 cases of bottled water and placed it next to the five cases I bought the other day. I intend to get another 10 cases this weekend and begin stocking up on canned fruits and vegetables too.  And antiseptic cleaning supplies and cough medicine. Am I opening a bodega? No, I am preparing for what could be life-as-unusual if the coronavirus really hits New Orleans.

Viewpoint: Cantrell still the queen despite changing poll numbers

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist
Although Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s job performance ratings took a hit from last year, according to a new poll, Cantrell still reigns supreme over all things News Orleans. The poll — taken earlier this month by Ed Chervenak’s Edgewater Research and Tony Liccardi’s My People Vote — provided a snapshot of the mayor’s favorability midway through her first term.  Results showed that Cantrell is less popular than either mayors Landrieu or Nagin were at this point in their administrations. The biggest take-out from the poll was her drop in favorability with white voters. African-American voters – especially males — clearly appreciate Cantrell. She is most popular in Council District E, followed by districts C and D. Caucasian voters, especially women and Republicans, are much less enchanted with the mayor by almost polar opposite numbers.

Join Uptown Messenger for New Hampshire primary watch party

The Uptown Messenger crew is inviting our readers, neighbors and any political enthusiasts to come and watch the New Hampshire Democratic Primary this Tuesday, Feb. 11, from  6:30 to 9 p.m. at Twelve Mile Limit, 500 S. Telemachus St. Thanks to you all who came to watch last week’s fiasco in Iowa with us. We plan for this primary to be less of a debacle but still worth conversing over. Political junkies of any affiliation are welcome, and the venue is for ages 21 and up.

Viewpoint: Diverse crowd attends opening of Bloomberg campaign’s N.O. headquarters

By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With a rocky Democratic presidential nomination competition currently underway, Democrats and other voters in New Orleans are giving serious consideration to former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a 77-year old self-made billionaire and declared presidential candidates who is not participating in the tumultuous early state primaries. Bloomberg launched a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign and has opened up strategic headquarters around the country, including in New Orleans at 642 Julia St. where dozens of interested citizens turned up Tuesday night. Among those present were civic activists Anne and King Milling, award-winning author Walter Isaacson, Cantrell insider Bob Tucker, writer John Pope, community leader Anne Redd, tax credit adviser Morris Kahn, Metairie businessman Rod Caccioppi, and philanthropist Leslie Jacobs. “I’m impressed by Michael Bloomberg’s experience and accomplishments as well as the campaign he’s putting together.