It hasn’t been a good couple of months for the Dryades YMCA, the sponsoring organization for the James M. Singleton Charter School. First there were awkward questions about falsified background checks for several charter school employees. Then the CFO’s criminal history and sloppy bookkeeping also became issues. Several people, including long-time head Doug Evans, resigned. Then a Dryades Y board member stepped down to assume the top staff position at the charter school, an action the state ethics board might signal as a violation of state law.
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.
With qualifying for New Orleans’ municipal elections about a month away, politicos are eyeing the party, gender and ethnic make-up of the city’s voters overall and in the individual City Council districts.
A new analysis by seasoned demographer and consultant Greg Rigamer shows that there are currently 273,627 registered voters in Orleans Parish residing in 216,052 households. This includes 119,656 (43.7%) male voters and 153,681 (56.2%) female voters. Of that total, 149,373 (54.6%) are Black; 99,821 (36.5%) are White; and 24,433 (8.9%) are registered as “other.” Democrats make up 64.2% (175,571) of the voters; “other party” 25.9% (70,748); and Republicans 10% (27,303).
Council District A has the highest percentage of White voters, and Council District E has the highest percentage of Black voters. For the first time in recent years, the percentage of White voters in Council District B exceeds the percentage of Black voters.
Almost 30% of the voters in both Council Districts A and B are registered as “other party,” above the local average.
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.
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.
Scott Presler is on a mission to convince Republican voters that they must take personal responsibility for their party and America’s future. “You can make a difference. I dare you to say, ‘I will!’” Presley issued the challenge to an enthusiastic audience of 100 plus Republicans, including former congressional candidate Claston Bernard, Wednesday (May 5), the night before President Joe Biden’s visit to New Orleans, at The Cannery in Mid-City.
A Navy brat and former dog walker who has become the darling of conservative Republicans around the country, Presler is in New Orleans on a three-day tour to build party leadership, raise money, and rally grassroots support for litter clean-up and other community campaigns. An honors graduate of George Mason University, Presler is a successful activist with 806,000 followers on Twitter under his hashtag #ThePersistence.
“It’s our Republican Party, not theirs. I’m coming for you in 2022 peacefully,” he continued. Presler has already visited 25 states this year, registering voters and campaigning for Republican candidates, including Susan Wright who just made the runoff for an open congressional seat in Texas. He is conducting a letter-writing campaign to support Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House press secretary.
Decked out in skinny jeans, cowboy boots and long Fabio-like locks, Presler exudes that Hollywood-style charisma that keeps his listeners fully engaged.
The recipient of the coveted Ronald Reagan Freedom Award from the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Presler delivers a concise, conversational message on electing “America-first patriots.” His mission is to reclaim the spirit of America one city at a time.
Presler said he “fully supports” the proposed ousting of Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney from Republican leadership over Cheney’s anti-Trump statements.
City Council President Helena Moreno said Wednesday (April 14) that she is proud of New Orleanians’ response to the smart decisions of the city’s public health leaders during the pandemic. “I think we showed that we can adapt and follow the science and, by doing so, we can manage an emergency and save lives,” Moreno said in an exclusive interview that touched on a wide range of topics. “We’re coming out of this not because of what elected officials did, but because of the tenaciousness and grit of New Orleanians.”
The past year has been “heartbreaking and grueling,” she said. “To get through it and emerge from the pandemic, we’ve had to come together and lift each other up.” That has meant supporting the public health responses like masking and restricting in-person contact, as well as now increasing the pace of vaccinations.
“Much of what science told us we had to ask of New Orleanians was unprecedented. Yet the people of this city responded and took us from the red zone to one of the leaders in virus suppression and now vaccination,” Moreno continued.
She expects that the pandemic will encourage government leaders to properly prioritize public health. “This will help raise the standard of living for so many in our community.
What do the South Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, the National Cotton Council of America and Jackson Offshore Operators all have in common? Their political action affiliates are contributing in Louisiana’s Second Congressional District race, according to the latest federal campaign finance reports released Monday (March 8).
State Sen. Troy Carter continues to lead the 15-person field in fundraising with a total of $914,444.70 raised to date, including $509,326.70 during this reporting period. After having spent $596,543.35, Carter reports $291,613.85 remaining cash on hand. He has received $104,551 in PAC contributions.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson has raised a total of $704,634.63 including $402,994.14 most recently. Carter Peterson also received $47,000 in PAC contributions.
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.
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.