Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Mary Landrieu’s dream of winning in the November primary may be unrealistic

Let’s start with some full disclosure — Danae will be among the dozens of table captains at Senator Mary Landrieu’s women’s fundraising brunch later in October. It will be a star-studded affair with well more than a thousand women present — many of whom have been devoted to Mary for decades. In fact, Danae can remember walking in Broadmoor with a much younger Mary Landrieu during her first race for the Louisiana Legislature. Fast forward a few decades to this week, when you might have heard one of the state’s leading elected officials say that he is concerned about the unwanted scrutiny and negative attention Louisiana will receive during a very divisive Senate run-off campaign. The nation’s eyes will be watching us as PACs spend millions to damage opposing candidates.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Helena Moreno shows savvy with work on women’s issues

State Representative Helena Moreno has turned out to be a savvy lobbyist for issues important to women and families and easily able to cross the political aisles to get the votes she needs. That’s the sentiment of the Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), a coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Independent Women’s Organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Organization for Women, who hosted a reception in her honor, courtesy of attorney Pamela Gibbs. Louisiana has traditionally ranked close to last in terms of the number of women in the state House and Senate. The metro area is lucky to have Moreno and the powerful Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, along with newly elected Rep. Ebony Woodruff, a Democrat from Harvey, and Republican Julie Stokes from Kenner. LAW representative Julie Schwam Harris said that their major issues in this past session included Equal Pay for Women, Medicaid Expansion and Sex Education.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Statewide town-hall meetings to focus on lessons from Ferguson

African-American organizations and others are holding dialogues across America to bring home the lessons from Ferguson as a basis for creating change in their communities. Former Mayor Marc Morial, national president of the Urban League, is in the forefront of this movement through his weekly column which appears in newspapers and e-letters around the country and local action through the Urban League chapters. The NAACP will begin a series of statewide meetings, the first this Saturday in New Orleans (1 p.m., Christian Unity Baptist Church, 1700 Conti Street), moderated by Pastor Dwight Webster, co-convener of the grassroots coalition Justice & Beyond, a co-sponsor of the meetings. Their message is that if African-Americans want police (and other elected officials) to be more accountable, transparent, and sensitive to their needs, they must become more involved in the electoral process. The National Democratic Party is adding their voice to this dialogue in a effort to turn out African-American voters for the mid-term election.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Great cities need effective policies to address the needs of the mentally ill

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults –  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Mayor Landrieu’s decision this week to close down the homeless encampment under the Pontchartrain Expressway due to “health issues” is both necessary and needed, but not well-planned.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Candidates emerging for fall elections as August qualifying period nears

With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond.  While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected. In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. Richmond’s brunch attracted a wide spectrum of elected officials and business leaders including Councilmember James Gray and his wife Judge Ernestine Gray; Councilmember Nadine Ramsey; state Rep. Randall Gaines; Criminal Court Judge Frank Marullo; Civil District Court Judge Lloyd Medley; along with judicial candidates Desiree Cook Calvin; Janet Ahern and Tertrece Harrison.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Voters need plenty of information and options before deciding on new taxes

Since Mayor Landrieu did not succeed in getting the Legislature to approve many of the new taxes he wanted to pay for the police consent decree, the firefighters’ lawsuit, the jail consent decree, etc, it is no surprise that he is punting to the voters to choose. Unfortunately, average citizens often lack the information needed to make such decisions. That’s why we elect leaders who can study these important issues and provide recommendations to us. Not every citizen has time to read through budget materials like the City Councilmembers do. Nor do they have experts at their disposal to evaluate various proposals.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Is Hillary Clinton ready to be the president America needs?

As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation.  Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is. Hillary’s new book “Hard Choices” (definitely a Hillary book, not a Hillary&Bill book) shows how she developed her political skills along the way starting with her stint as a young Congressional legal counsel, to First Lady of Arkansas, the U.S., then a member of Congress and finally as Secretary of State, where she looked at every foreign affairs decision on an issue-by-issue basis. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote last Sunday that “Madame Secretary made a difference.” Kristof further noted that Hillary achieved a great deal and left a hefty — but different — legacy.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Dogs from New Orleans finding “forever homes” up North

Snuggles is a New Orleans dog, born and bred — a 2-year-old mixed breed with probably more terrier in him than anything else. About a year ago, Snuggles was a lonely street dog, mostly eating out of garbage cans. One day, a stranger swept him up and brought him to the Louisiana SPCA. After getting some really good food, shots, spayed and regularly bathed, Snuggles was ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, no matter how cute Snuggles was, he always seemed to come in second.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Is another New Orleans Super Bowl worth the cost of a new stadium?

Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America.

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: All hail King Banana, and bring on more bananas foster!

The Krewe of Banana is returning to the Port of New Orleans and we couldn’t be happier. The Port of New Orleans has undergone a great resurgence in recent years – at least they are one agency that Governor Bobby Jindal cuts less frequently than most others. Port Director Gary LaGrange – who has spent his whole career in the maritime industry – is one smart guy to keep approaching Chiquita Brand over the years until the time was “ripe” for a move back to New Orleans. Coupled with the widening of the Panama Canal, Chiquita’s move will send a big international signal that the Port of New Orleans is once again the premiere place to do business. Governor Bobby Jindal did step up with the cash and incentives Chiquita needed to seal the deal.