Viewpoint: America needs leadership from a ‘gumbo coalition,’ Marc Morial says

National Urban League President and former Mayor New Orleans Marc Morial was born to lead.? His parents, former Mayor Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial and educator Sybil Haydel Morial, wouldn’t have had it any other way. From his NORD playground days as a national champion Little League football star to his groundbreaking work in civil rights and economic empowerment, Morial has united voices and created meaningful change first in Louisiana and later across the globe.??

“A good gumbo depends on diversity and inclusion, the very thing companies, schools and institutions of all kinds find themselves wrestling with,” Morial said, discussing his new book “The Gumbo Coalition: 10 Leadership Lessons That Help You Inspire, Unite and Achieve.”

He believes that most leaders of large organizations are not taking full advantage of America’s “incredible diversity.”??

“America needs a national Gumbo Coalition movement right now because the ingredients for the most diverse gumbo in the world are already at our fingertips,” said Morial. “We have all the spices and flavors to create all manner of coalitions.”??

One of only 14 Black students out of 1,000 at Jesuit High School, Morial graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University before returning home to become a member of the Louisiana State Senate in 1992 and mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002. While mayor, Morial addressed corruption at the New Orleans Police Department, reduced violent crime by almost 60%, renamed and improved the Louisiana Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and accelerated economic growth.?

He also expanded the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, beefed up year-round youth programming, increased home ownership, initiated the return of the historic Canal and Rampart streetcars, strengthened ties to Latin America and the Caribbean, and brought NBA basketball back of New Orleans.? During his final year as mayor, Morial served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He was selected to lead the National Urban League in 2003.?

Morial coined the phrase “Gumbo Coalition” after a campaign supporter prepared gumbo for a party being hosted in his honor.

Viewpoint: Does Churchill Downs prioritize gaming over horse racing?

In a decision that critics say speaks directly to corporate greed, Churchill Downs is challenging the Louisiana State Racing Commission’s emergency ruling that requires Churchill to temporarily take in 500 horses displaced from Delta Downs by Hurricane Laura. The showdown will take place Friday, Sept. 11, in front of Judge Sidney Cates in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.?

Churchill Downs, the owner of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots since 2004, grew from a one race-track company to a publicly traded conglomerate with multiple tracks, casinos and the country’s leading online wagering operation. They offer 800 video poker games at 13 facilities in Louisiana.????

Horsemen are puzzled because they know Churchill has the extra barn space needed for Delta’s horses and that it would be compensated for the additional operating expenses. But Churchill would not reap the same profit from horses as online wagering and video poker.

Viewpoint: Candidates meet the moment with redefined campaigns

Armed with push cards, customized face masks and signs, judicial candidate Rhonda Goode-Douglas spent Saturday morning greeting voters outside Congregation Coffee Roasters in Algiers. On Saturday afternoon, her opponent Derwyn Bunton posed with his wife Eileen and daughters Chloe and Reilly for photographs and video that will be used in social media. Both candidates would have attended the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic in City Park today – always a highlight of the fall political season – had it not been canceled.?

While Labor Day signals the beginning of the final two-month stretch before the Nov. 3 elections, New Orleans candidates up and down the ballot are continually adjusting to the new normal of campaigning during COVID-19.?

“I came to this coffee shop because I wanted to meet the residents of Algiers Point,” said Goode-Douglas, a defense attorney who is running for Criminal District Court judge, Section E. “It’s difficult to spread our message and touch the community without being able to campaign door-to-door. We are dropping literature at people’s houses, but we are not ringing their bells.”??

“Trying to win an election during a pandemic requires extra creativity as well as a heavy reliance on technology and social media,” said Bunton, Orleans Parish’s chief public defender and also a candidate for Criminal District Court Section E. “The usual canvassing, meet-and-greets and handshaking can literally place you, your volunteers and potential voters in danger, so we are being respectful and following the science.”?

“Campaigns used to be about visiting people, but now they are all about content for social media,” said Ray Reggie, who has 36 years’ experience on political campaigns.

Viewpoint: Arthur Hunter positions himself as the people’s candidate for district attorney

Long before the honorific “criminal justice reformer” came in vogue, Arthur L. Hunter Jr. was earning a national reputation for identifying alternative solutions to incarceration aimed at decreasing recidivism. After four years as a New Orleans police officer, 12 years as a lawyer in private practice, and 23 years as the Section K Criminal District Court judge, Hunter decided the only way he could bring greater systemic change was to run for district attorney. “I am the clear choice for New Orleans voters who want a fair criminal justice system that truly addresses the needs of victims and defendants while creating programs that reduce crime,” Hunter said. A former St. Augustine High School football star, Hunter said he is running as “a candidate of the people, not a candidate of the bosses.”
Hunter, 61, said he earned the trust of the community during his stint as a police officer.

Viewpoint: Judge Laurie White, Dennis Moore duke it out in Criminal Court Section A race

Judge Laurie White admits she has always been a little feisty. “Even as a child I wanted to free the world,” she said. A former professional boxing manager who traveled internationally with her fighters, White will put her innate pugnaciousness to use in what could be a no-holds-barred competition against seasoned capital defense attorney Dennis Moore. A 61-year old Baton Rouge native, White graduated from LSU and Southern University Law Center and served as an assistant district attorney in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. While in private practice she handled civil rights and insurance matters and also tried more than 100 criminal defense cases as first chair and litigated almost 75 judge trials.

Viewpoint: Three candidates offer diverse experiences in Criminal Court Section K race

In the race to fill the open seat in Criminal District Court Section K, three lawyers are bringing their diverse background and outlook to the competition: attorney Stephanie Bridges, best known for her 24 years as president of the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice (NOCCJ); 36-year-old lawyer Marcus DeLarge, whose family has been active in city government for half a century; and 30-year practitioner Gary Wainwright, who describes his work as “citizen’s defense.” A fourth candidate, Diedre Pierce Kelly, was disqualified by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Stephanie Bridges

A distant relative by marriage to civil rights icons Ruby Bridges and the late Dr. Zebadee Bridges, nonprofit executive Stephanie Bridges has been an advocate for youth justice for more than 30 years. The NOCCJ, the human relations organization she leads, “promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.”
NOCCJ offers cultural diversity workshops and for almost 10 years provided free expungement clinics in conjunction with the Louis Martinet Society and the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana.? Some of the young people who participated in NOCCJ programs needed expungements to give them a fresh start. While lawyers from the partnering groups completed the technical aspects, Bridges learned the basics. Longtime NOCCJ partner and former Loyola University President Father James Carter dared Bridges to enter Loyola’s Law School program.

Viewpoint: Proactive policing needed to combat surge in violent crime, MCC says

The Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC), New Orleans’ premier criminal justice watchdog agency, is urging the New Orleans Police Department to refocus on violent offenders during a time when shootings and murders are surging and fewer arrests are being made for violent and weapons felony offenses. A new MCC analysis shows that there is currently a high community demand for police services. They recommend that the NOPD reinstitute a centralized task force model that allows police to strategically identify and target violent felons who continue to pose a threat to community safety. “Every violent crime that goes unresolved by arrest fuels the vigilante cycle of retaliatory justice, thereby diminishing public confidence in law enforcement,” said Rafael Goyeneche, MCC president. “The foundation for prosperity is built upon public safety.

Viewpoint: Before Kamala Harris, a very long battle for women in politics

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ selection as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee — and potentially the most consequential vice president in American history — is the crowning glory of more than 150 years of incredible work by countless suffragists who first fought for the right to vote and later battled for unfettered access to the top echelons of U.S. government. Though Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, Shirley Chisholm and others mightily aspired to reach the White House, polls currently show that the Biden-Harris team has more than a fighting chance to meet that goal. As America remembers the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which cracked open the doors for Harris and many others, there is no better way to celebrate than registering a friend or family member to vote. History tells us that the national women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, which was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Mary Ann McClintock.???

The suffrage movement started a little later in Louisiana because of an antebellum-influenced view of the Southern lady, delicate as a magnolia blossom in the spring.? Southern males believed the women’s rights movement could only be attributed to an inferior Northern culture and likened it to abolitionism.? Equality of the sexes was a blatant disregard of social distinctions, according to author Armantine M. Smith writing in the Louisiana Law Review. In 1861 men began leaving home to fight in the Civil War, thereby compelling womenfolk to take the lead in caring for children and the elderly.

Viewpoint: Gusman says additional health care facilities could save lives at parish prison

Armed with the ruling yesterday (Aug. 5) by U.S. District? Judge Lance Africk, which returned control of the Orleans Justice Center to Sheriff Marlin Gusman, the sheriff said he is moving ahead with his push to build a new facility to house inmates with severe health and mental health needs and to repurpose Templeman V as a temporary facility for COVID-19 inmates. “I’m trying to save lives,” said Sheriff Marlin Gusman after Wednesday’s ruling, as he discussed plans for new or repurposed health facilities for prisoners.?

Court-appointed monitors reported in July that the OPSO was in partial or substantial compliance with the majority of federal reform provisions. Though Judge Africk returned control of the Orleans Justice Center to Gusman, the consent decree continues.?

On Wednesday, Gusman said his immediate concern is containing the spread of the coronavirus within the prison walls. “NOPD officers are bringing known COVID-19 positive patients to the Orleans Justice Center,” Gusman said.

Viewpoint: Nuns at Xavier Prep set Judge Piper Griffin on her path

As she campaigns to become the second Black female and third Black jurist to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court, Civil District Court Judge Piper Griffin, 58, credits the nurturing she received during her teen years at Xavier Prep for her courage and tenacity. “The nuns told me I could do anything if I put my mind to it, and I believed them,” said Judge Griffin. Her first dream, however, was to become an astronaut. “I loved exploring and being exposed to different things,” she said. When Judge Griffin began college at the University of Notre Dame, she realized aerospace engineering was not her forte.