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With much fanfare, on October 25, 2018, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other political leaders opened a meditation room at City Hall. The purpose of this “safe space” was to allow people “to reflect, even seek counsel if they need it.” It was one of Cantrell’s anti-violence initiatives for “youth in crisis.”

The Mayor touted the center as a “holistic approach about health and wellness,” featuring reclining chairs, essential oils and diffusers.

After 15 months, it seems clear the “holistic” approach is not working. Juvenile violence is on the upswing. It has been particularly horrible in Lakeview. In fact, one recent incident forced schools and homes to be placed on lockdown as police launched a manhunt to find three automobile thieves who had fled from authorities after a traffic stop.

In recent months, Lakeview residents have had to deal with car burglaries and car windows being smashed all too frequently. Their anger reached a boiling point on Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Lakeview. A massive crowd attended to express their disappointment at the lack of action from City Hall.

Unfortunately, not only did the Mayor not attend, but she also chose not to send a representative to the meeting. This shows a total lack of respect for an area of New Orleans that send millions of tax dollars to City Hall. Sadly, Lakeview has been ignored for many years. For evidence, just examine the pitiful condition of the streets, which are among the worst in New Orleans.

A leading Lakeview activist Elizabeth Schindler said that residents “want actual results, we don’t want placation.”

Truly, the time for “placation” is over for Lakeview, but did the Mayor get the message? It is a legitimate question for she spends plenty of time outside of the city. For example, she is currently enjoying a trip to Washington Mardi Gras in our nation’s capital. Over the New Year holiday, she visited the country of Ghana on a trade and cultural mission. Last summer, she attended a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Hawaii and led a panel discussion dealing with issues such as “water” and “infrastructure.” For her birthday, she visited the communist nation of Cuba to learn about their health care system and economic development programs.

Let’s hope for remainder of 2020, the Mayor will spend enough time in New Orleans to realize that her administration must focus on crime, especially juvenile crime, as the most important issue to be addressed.

In response to the Lakeview crime surge, the Cantrell administration announced that it will create an evening reporting center for juveniles and a supervision program with social workers. A better approach is to unleash the police department by removing the consent decree that is limiting proactive measures that officers can take. According to the Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, police officers are “not allowed to participate in chases and again that sort of empowers…the criminal to go out and be more brazen on the streets.”

The real answer is not meditation rooms, social workers or midnight basketball. It is old fashioned law and order and punishment for juvenile criminals so they will be deterred from committing more crime. If they receive no punishment for their illegal activities, criminals are incentivized to continue with their delinquent behavior.

Clearly, essential oils are not doing the trick, it is time to let police officers do their jobs. 

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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It has been three months since the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed on Canal Street, killing three workers and injuring dozens of others. Since that time, lawsuits have been filed, but very little has been done to demolish the partially collapsed building. After the collapse, an effort to demolish two large cranes on the building site only partially succeeded as one crane is still dangling from the side of the building. To make matters worse, the bodies of two dead construction workers remain in the building.

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As you know by now, the Saints will host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in a game that will break the tie for the NFC’s top seed. Both teams are 10-2 after the Niners lost at Baltimore and the Saints avenged an earlier loss by defeating the Falcons Thanksgiving night. Beating the Falcons anytime, especially after that Week 10 upset, is sweet, but I was looking ahead to this week for a special reason. I hate the 49ers.  

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For months, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city leaders have been boasting about the reduction in murders this year. It looks like 2019 will end with a significant decrease in the murder rate. This is great news and should be celebrated by all citizens in New Orleans.

Despite this progress, there are serious concerns which remain about crime in New Orleans. Auto burglaries are on the increase all over New Orleans. Sadly, on Sunday morning, at the end of the Bayou Classic weekend, there was a mass shooting on Canal Street. In this case, 10 people were shot and, thankfully, none were killed.

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It's time to talk Turkey.  

With Thanksgiving now roughly ten days away, it is almost winter holiday-time when we spend quality moments with our friends, relatives and loved-ones.  And to prepare everyone with the right spirit, on Thursday November 21, we're serving up some of the most recognized political-turkey-talk with punch.

drew bridge

I had a great idea a few weeks ago, right after Drew Brees cracked his thumb on a Ram horn and was staring at a 6- to 8-week rehab. The scenario went this way: We knew Teddy Bridgewater would replace Brees during a very difficult stretch of the schedule. After all, the local heroes had fallen a game behind the Rams and then had to travel to Seattle where the Seahawks almost never lose to good teams. Then the Cowboys would come to town spitting vinegar that this is – finally – their year. Tampa Bay was up next and was scoring more points than Wilt Chamberlain’s Warriors, then the Saints hit the road again for games at Jacksonville and Chicago  where the Bears were another 2018 playoff team.  

bridgewater morrall

If Teddy Bridgewater has achieved anything this season, he has added another feather in Coach Sean Payton’s genius bonnet. If Payton had not pushed the re-signing of the free agent quarterback after last season, the Saints might not be at 5-1 today and a favorite to make the Super Bowl. Of course, with Pope Francis inadvertently expressing his blessing on the Saints this week, Who Dat Nation is trying to enlist the Pontiff to use his spiritual influence to speed up Drew Brees’ recovery and send Bridgewater back to the bench. 

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A remarkable thing occurred this past weekend that should have raised the eyebrows of any fan who has questioned the skill, the intentions and probably the heritage of NFL game officials. On Saturday, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association reached agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that goes through the 2025 season. The current deal was set to expire next May. No information was given on improved methods of training or rules reviews or even the hands-off conversation of full-time officials. Nothing other than the subliminal news that the quality of officiating you have been seeing is the same quality of officiating that you will be seeing forthwith.  

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Refs try to rub it in, but this time Saints prevail

The first week of the NFL season has come and gone, and not much has changed. The Browns are still terrible, the Patriots are still dominating, we still have whack-jobs by the basketful, and game officials still shoot themselves in the foot, as we saw on Monday Night Football.

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It seems that Lusher High School in New Orleans has a celebrity teacher this year, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He will be teaching an Advanced Placement American Government course to a select group of students.

Not surprisingly, his emphasis will be on local government, which makes sense since Landrieu was Mayor of New Orleans for eight years. While it might be interesting to hear from Landrieu’s liberal perspective, will the high school be offering an alternative ideological viewpoint? Will there be balance in the classroom?

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