Brother Martin High day at Semolina's -Clearview Mall

This is an event sponsored by Brother Martin High School--eat, enjoy, support!

"Pasta with a Purpose”
Semolina is excited to invite you to
“Pasta with a Purpose,”
a fundraising event for
Brother Martin High School.
Enjoy a wonderful meal with family and friends,
and Semolina will donate 10% of the proceeds to
Brother Martin High School.
All you have to do is bring this invitation to dinner
with you!
Monday, January 25th
10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Semolina Clearview Shopping Center
4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, LA 70006
The Crusader Family thanks you for participating!

Click the link above to download the PDF of the invitation. Bring that with you to Semolina on Monday so BMHS gets credit for your meal. Thanks!


Don't Play Dirty with @FleurtyGirl

It all started with a tweet this morning:

huh? The NFL told Fleurty Girl they couldn't sell their great #WHODAT shirt?  I immediately had flashbacks to my Radio Shack days in the early 1980s, when Radio Shack sued Auto Shack (and won because they sold car audio), and also sued Peanut Shack (and lost, because it was a stupid idea). 

And of all people, Fleurty Girl, a t-shirt shop uptown on Oak Street.  With all the knock-off merchandise sold in the French Quarter year-round, why pick on a small operation on the opposite side of town, in what is by and large a shopping district frequented almost exclusively by locals?

Let's back up a moment, though.  This is the offending t-shirt:

It's on display outside the Fleurty Girl store.  Look a bit more closely at the design:

A gold fleur-de-Lis that doesn't look at all, at all, like the BLACK fleur-de-lis that the Saints use:

The fleur de list that Fleurty Girl uses is more like the ones you find on the flag of the French Monarchy, early incarnations of the English royal arms, and the three on the flag of the city of New Orleans. Maybe the NFL can sue HM The Queen. They can try to sue SeeRay, but the city's still paying pre-storm judgements. I also doubt they'll be sending C&D demands to kingcake bakeries, either.

As for the term "Who Dat," the NFL has no more claim to that than I have to the George Halas trophy.

Fleurty Girl
says they're going to agree to the NFL's demands. Probably a good move, even though there's no shortage of lawyers willing to take their side on this. No worries, though, since their other "Who Dat" shirt is not a problem for the NFL:

In other words, all that was gained by someone dropping a dime on Fleurty Girl was to boost their public profile and sales.


Speaking of bad news for @JohnGeorges2010

At a forum a couple of weeks ago, businessman and mayoral candidate John Georges listed Mac Rebbenack (Dr. John) as one of his friends.


Exclusive to, New Orleans music icon Dr. John has endorsed mayoral candidate James Perry.

"The man is the only person I have met that's in this race for mayor who is for the people," he said in endorsing Perry.

Congrats to Karen Beninato (@kbeninato on da Twittah) for getting the scoop!


Today's poll in Da Paper is more bad news for @JohnGeorges2010

Interesting numbers in the mayoral poll on the front page of Da Paper this morning:

The survey of 500 registered voters, conducted Jan. 13-17 for WWL-TV, gives Landrieu 45 percent and Henry 14 percent of the vote. Lawyer Rob Couhig and businessman John Georges, who so far has invested $1.5 million of his own money in the race, are tied for third place at 8 percent.

Bringing up the rear in the poll were fair-housing activist James Perry receiving 3 percent, followed by former Civil District Court Judge Nadine Ramsey at 2 percent.

First, that sample is of registered voters rather than likely voters, so the numbers could be tighter if a more accurate sample was taken.

Second, yeah, it looks bad for everyone but Mitch. Henry's legal issues with his partner, as well as his last campaign finance report combine to indicate a campaign out of cash. That's not a good place to be if you're trying to keep Mitch from getting to 50% + one vote.

Third, these numbers indicate a devastating rejection of John Georges. While his attack ads may have contributed to keeping Mitch below 50%, clearly they're doing nothing to boost his personal brand. Georges has spent a dumptruck full of his own money, with nothing more to show from it than what Couhig's got.

Prior to the storm, the players would be trying to get Perry and Ramsey out of the race to solidify the black vote behind the candidate with the best chance. In post-storm NOLA, however, those players don't have the influence they used to.


The modern civil rights movement is about housing, and that makes @jamesperry2010 a movement leader

Norbert Rome is little more than a footnote in the current mayor's race, but he made a comment at the Urban League mayoral forum last night that struck a nerve with me:

Perry took the next hit as Rome said, “I keep hearing James say he has a long history in civil rights. I been at it 40 years and never saw you James, so when you get a chance tell me what organization, what board?” The moderator Camille Whitworth suggested, “Perhaps the two of you can catch up on old times a little later.”

Consider age,for starters, I'm 51 years old. I didn't sit at the lunch counter at Woolworth's on Canal until after the store was required to let black folks sit there as well. James Perry's younger than me, so that whole forty years thing Rome's going for just doesn't fly.

But that doesn't mean Perry isn't active in the cause of civil rights. James knows that fair and affordable housing for everyone is the battleground of the civil rights movement. James' work with the Preservation Resource Center and the GNO Fair Housing Action Center show clearly that he's "in the trenches" as he puts it.  Affordable housing is the silver bullet of economic development and civil rights.  Give people the opportunity to live near where they work, they will work.  Job growth breeds job growth.  Give people the opportunity to own their own homes without being screwed by banks, they become commuity citizens.  They get involved in neighborhoods.  They become activists.  They vote.

You didn't have to picket Woolworth's to be "in the trenches," Norbert.

Also, read Katy Reckendahl's excellent profile of James in Da Paper.


Charter School Ups and Downs of the Week

The massive experiment with charter schools in Orleans Parish has had its ups and downs since being implemented post-storm. This week's down comes from Langston Hughes Academy:

The former business manager of Langston Hughes Academy allegedly stole nearly $675,000 from the charter school, according to a forensic audit of the school's accounts.

The audit reports that Kelly Thompson, who authorities arrested in November, made more than 150 cash withdrawals from the school's operating account over a 15-month period.

(more after the jump)

Embezzlement at a public school is certainly not a new concept; bookkeepers and administrators have been been tempted to dip into the till for generations. Some do, and the ones who do on a grand scale usually get caught. The stories that come out of these incidents are often fodder for the screenplay of a soon-to-be-TV-movie on Lifetime.

What separates the charters structure from the OP Public School system is the speed with which folks were held accountable. When this particular case broke in November of 2009, Thompson was immediately arrested and the CEO of the school, John Alford, resigned. Even though he was not involved in the crime, the buck stopped at his desk and Mr. Alford did something you hardly ever saw in the union-management adversarial environment of the pre-storm school system: He manned up and took responsibility:

"He was part of our uncovering this," said board member Matt Candler, who added that Alford resigned because of "his belief that he had oversight of this and it happened, in his words, on his watch."

Tip of the hat to Mr. Alford. He learned something important about management, and hopefully he'll apply that in his next position. And I'm sure there will be a position for him somewhere, as the schools continue to refine and improve their various approaches to educating the children of New Orleans.

On a brighter side, public education is back on the road to recovery in Lakeview:

Construction has begun to re-bulid Edward Hynes Elementary on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview. Look at the amount of dirt they're bringing in to raise the elevation of the new building.

Hynes was hit hard by the storm, as was all of Lakeview.  The school's families came together quickly and established a board of directors to re-open as a charter school.  Hynes' board counts Chancellor Tim Ryan of UNO as one of its members, although the school is not part of UNO's charter school managment structure. St. James Major High over on Gentilly closed some years ago. That campus weathered the storm well, so it's a good place for Hynes to be while their school is constructed.

Still, Gentilly isn't Lakeview, and the neighborhood needs its public school. Even though St. Dominic's (Catholic) and St. Paul's (Episcopal) are just a few blocks down the street, a public school presence is important.

An open letter to @JohnGeorges2010

Dear Mr. Georges:

First off, let me wish you a Happy Martin Luther King Day. Since you're a Democrat this year, I know the wishes aren't falling on deaf ears. I wouldn't waste my time if you were still a Republican, like when you were trying to court the Louisiana Republican Party prior to the 2007 election for LA-Gov. I hope you don't mind I refer to that election as LA-Gov, like we do on Daily Kos, even though you don't have a lot of respect for us Internet folk.

And that's why I'm writing. During a mayoral forum on 14-January-2010, you said:

There are some dangerous people out there, and they’re here tonight. They’re taping us.

Now, I just know you probably wish you could take that statement back. After all, the people filming you were author Louis Maistros and his wife. They were accompanied by author Poppy Z. Brite, who has a lot more name recognition than you do, and she didn't even have to spend millions like you did in your failed bid for the governor's mansion to get it. I'll be the first to admit that Poppy can get worked up when she's passionate about something, like the closure of St. Henry's Church (her parish), or Da Saints, but but they weren't quite up to hell-raising standards last Thursday night.

Yet you still think of them as dangerous. Your attitude during the forum reminds me of George "Macaca" Allen, former US Senator from Virginia, so Poppy's characterization of you as "paranoid" appears on the money. Personally, I think it's less about paranoia than ego. You just don't like losing, and that's what's happening to you now, just like in the LA-Gov election. (Oops, there I go again, with that lingo from the Internet, sorry.)

About the Internet, by the way: You do know that it's a product of the Cold War, right? It really wasn't invented by Al Gore. Most of the companies actually making money with all those bits-and-bytes are backed by venture capitalists, investors with lots of money. Guys like you.

But you knew most of that already, I'll wager. After all, you've hired some of these "dangerous people" yourself for this campaign. Got to have a website, of course. Maybe you don't let the "dangerous people" in the same room with you, OK, fair enough. The restaurant has a website too, and a pretty good one. Congratulations on that acquisition, I like Crabmeat Ravigote.

Notice that I'm doing my best here to not lapse into the rants and tirades you probably expect when reading blogs, or, in your case, paying a staffer to read blogs like you most likely do for your @JohnGeorges2010 twitter account. I don't want you to think all of us blogger types are foul-mouthed hacks. Some of us can be polite when we want to be. And I say that with all the pride in my Catholic school education I can muster. Still, I take issue with you and this calling a writer, his wife, and another writer "dangerous." They were at the forum to observe democracy at work. OK, they were there with the hope that you or Mr. Couhig would say something outrageous, but that's not dangerous, that's just waiting for the sun to rise in the east.

Still, you're on to something here. There are some dangerous people on the Internet. There are the real Internet criminals of course, but then there are the hackers who are amused by creative stunts. Stunts like that fake-Mitch-the-Mayor website you had your guys put together. Some of us also enjoyed the pro-pot candidate with the same last name as a Republican candidate. Seriously, that's good stuff.

It's also poison.

Yes, you, sir, are poisonous to democratic discourse. The problem is, giving you back what you've been dishing out taints everyone else with the same poison. If someone did want to return the favor, however, they might want to look for one of the "dangerous people." Maybe it would be somebody who went to Catholic school and has a sense of humor. That person might not be a "political operative," as you described those writers videoing you, but maybe they shared office space with a real political operative early on in their consulting career.

This person would know the Internet better than the keystone cops who left their fingerprints all over the fake Landrieu website, that or they just wouldn't care who found out. Either way, a workable strategy would be to hit you in the wallet, because if someone could deal you a financial blow, you'd have less personal funds with which to pull stunts that cost other candidates a lot of money.  After all, personal financial troubles can sink a candidate, particularly when being sued by a politically-connected Republican lawyer.  This member of the "dangerous people" group might get a domain like this one, then start gathering negative reviews and articles together, updating the site as often as possible. Using some basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, this new website would come close to the actual site in Google rankings. People trying to decide whether or not to go to this place might opt for the competition. Come to think of it, this probably wouldn't set you back enough financially to have an impact on the campaign, but it would appeal to the Catholic-school sense of humor.

You are wrong for government, Mr. Georges. Your campaign's conduct is old-school, and that's not a compliment. You claim to be a Democrat (this time around), but you're a campaign straight out of the GOP consultant's playbook. New Orleans is a city that deserves something better than a poisonous businessman who will fill City Hall with sycophants who can't run an honest campaign.

Oh, and once again, Happy MLK Day!