Saturday, February 27, 2010

Many thanks for the responses to the post below. I wasn't able to create a satisfactory paypal donation apparatus in a timely, transparent way for those victimized by the fire. Also, figuring out equitable distribution became more complicated than I originally anticipated. I didn't want to use my own account, and I didn't have time to try something new. So I'm sorry I floated the idea without a better plan in place.

Most of the tenants have been able to find enough assistance to regroup and move on with their lives. I'll keep you updated on the story as events warrant.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Uptown fire 

Some noticed a pretty big fire yesterday evening at an Uptown apartment building. The NOFD took care of the blaze but not before massive damage occurred to the large three story structure. Fortunately, all of the tenants evacuated and no one was hurt, although one tenant with heart trouble had to be taken to the hospital. This is a twelve unit building, and the tenants are primarily low wage workers without much in terms of a support structure, savings or renter's insurance. Most of them lost the majority of their belongings, either from the fire, smoke or water. All are currently homeless. The Red Cross was on the scene quickly and provided relief, but that will run out very soon, and everyone is trying to find other accomodations. The landlord is pretty stressed out about the situation, too.

Here's the kicker: by all accounts, this was a case of arson. A tenant broke up with her boyfriend a couple days ago. The disgruntled ex (who still had a key) went up to her empty apartment and apparently set a fire on the bed, then he rushed out and left the building. The tenant returned from work around 4:30pm to see smoke coming from her apartment door, opened it (*cringe*) and huge rolls of smoke billowed out. A couple other tenants from the second and first floors noticed the blaze and bravely ran back up to the 3rd floor to evacuate the other tenants up there (some of which had special health needs). Fire extinguishers were emptied into the blaze, but it had grown too big to quell, and everyone got out to wait on the NOFD's arrival. This could have been extremely tragic, as a single mom with two infants lived in the unit next to where the fire was set. Thank goodness the family was elsewhere that afternoon. I believe the alleged arsonist is still at large, but am confident he'll be arrested soon. What a sick, evil thing to do.

I haven't ever asked for donations or done paid advertising at YRHT, but I'm thinking about setting up a quick paypal fund to be split among the homeless tenants, to help them get back on their feet. Would you be inclined to support such an endeavor?

Update: There was a photo of the fire on the front page of the T-P Metro section. I'll add that NOFD has not completed its investigation, so no official determination of the cause of the fire has been made. However, the information above comes from several witnesses, whose stories all match without contradiction. And when a determination of arson is made, as I expect, I'm absolutely committed to doing everything I can to ensure justice is served against the guilty party.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

No apology 

Dead Pelican publisher Chad Rogers was a guest on Jeff Crouere's Ringside Politics radio show on WIST 990am. A caller named James from Metairie phoned in and asked Rogers if he felt the need to apologize or retract his false "Flash Sheet" news report claiming "the National Democratic party [planned] to provide massive amounts of Cash" for Mitch Landrieu's mayoral campaign".

There was stunned silence for a few seconds and Rogers babbled out "but Mitch Landrieu won", and he kept repeating that as if it answered James' query. I suppose Rogers' idea is that Mitch Landrieu's surprisingly overwhelming victory is evidence of involvement by the Democratic National Committee. Sure. What else could possibly explain it? Low turnout, weak competition and immense Nagin fatigue? No, no... it must be the DNC money.

Needless to say, there was no apology and no retraction for Rogers' false news story.

This wouldn't be a big deal if it were an isolated incident. But it's not. As I detailed in this Filter piece, this happened in 2006 as well. (The Drudge Report at least retracted its false story about the DNC and Landrieu in '06, but not before most of the conservative Louisiana blogs ran with it and incorporated it into their articles of faith about the sinister Landrieus.)

The other day Chad was doing a chat with Jeff Crouere on WGNO's web site, and I noted Chad's previous support for Nagin and his anti-Mitch Landrieu hit pieces. If you're interested, you can read the transcript of his responses here.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just say no to drug kingpins 

A T-P story from February 13th provided updated information to some of the details presented in a recent far-flung YRHT post.

STANDING DOWN: A real-estate developer has withdrawn a suit he filed last week in an attempt to stop criticism during the District A City Council campaign that, he said, "unlawfully ridiculed and derided" him.

Vincent Marcello Jr. had sued candidate Susan Guidry and Keith Hardie, the leader of Anybody But Batt, a political action committee designed to keep Jay Batt, a Guidry opponent, from regaining the council seat he held from 2002 to 2006.
Marcello said Thursday that he decided not to pursue the suit because he had "other legal remedies." But he declined to specify what those might be.

Good! I think legal remedies are preferable to illegal ones.

Here's a T-P story from 2 years ago about a French Quarter restaurant mentioned in that YRHT post:

Maximo's Italian Grill has officially reopened after being closed for almost 3 years. The original chef, Paul Cattoche is back and is running the restaurant. The previous owner, Jason Anixter relocated to California and the new owner is Vincent Marcello.

The restaurant will serve the same high quality, fresh food as before the storm.

Good! I love restaurants that serve fresh, high quality food.

Thanks to a dot-connecting anonymous commenter, we'll link to this extremely brief story in today's T-P Metro section. The online title is "Alleged kingpin of New Orleans drug-trafficking ring arrested in Atlanta".

Authorities investigating a drug-trafficking ring suspected of shipping high-grade marijuana from California and Atlanta to the New Orleans area have arrested the operation's alleged kingpin and seized more than five pounds of pot and other substances, according to the Louisiana State Police.

Paul Cattoche, 57, of New Orleans, was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta at one of at least five locations in Louisiana and Georgia where state and federal agents executed search warrants as part of a probe that began last month...

Good! I think drug-trafficking kingpins should be arrested and probed. (Though we should perhaps begin with big Pharma.) A different sort of racketeering occurred at another Vincent Marcello-owned property at Canal Street, where madames participated in a sophisticated nationwide prostitute-swapping exchange for the pleasure of various doctors, lawyers and indian chiefs. Aren't those madames savvy? Must be due to their hard-knock upbringing. (Jeanette Maier, for example, grew up in and around a beloved French Quarter restaurant-- Toney's Spaghetti House.)

Darn the luck of poor Vincent Marcello, though! Allegedly, his (former) employees and tenants keep getting involved in these large, lucrative, sophisticated, nationwide criminal enterprises. I hate it when that happens.

Will these (no doubt coincidental) connections (continue to) escape the eagle eyes of local media and federal investigators?

Update: Georgia media has more information.

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