1. 9/11 MEMORIAL STAIR CLIMB
Cities around the U.S. have had stair climbs to memorialize those who lost their lives at New York's World Trade Center on 9/11. The inaugural New Orleans 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb will be held at Poydras Tower (400 Poydras St.) on the morning of Sept. 10 to honor the first responders at 9/11 as well as Louisiana military and first responders who have died since 2001. Participants will climb 110 floors in full gear. Money pledged to the climbers will benefit the Louisiana Heroes Project, a nonprofit supporting military, first responders and their families. A block party will follow at noon outside Barcadia (601 Tchoupitoulas St.), where Flow Tribe (pictured) will perform. For more information, visit www.neworleansstairclimb.com.
2. Quote of the week
"This geriatric bunch of stooges are nothing more than a bunch of political cock roaches [sic] starved for attention. ... Let's just call them the 'Krewe of Dementia' because they probably won't remember that they even belong to this nonsensical organization." — Michael Lawrence, U.S. Senate campaign coordinator for David Duke, in response to the reactivation of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, a group formed in the 1990s to oppose Duke's run for Louisiana governor (see Commentary, p. 13).
Among the group's members are political pundit James Carville, former Gov. Edwin Edwards and former WDSU-TV news anchor Norman Robinson, who sparred on air with Duke in 1991. Lawrence called them "basically a bald-headed buffoon," "nothing more than a Viagra salesman" and "a washed-up journalist that can't find a job."
3. Feds give $1 million to fight Louisiana ODs
Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration warned New Orleans that heroin and its synthetic counterpart fentanyl pose a significant drug threat, while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $1 million in funding to Louisiana to help improve access to opioid abuse treatment.
Agents with the DEA's New Orleans field office announced departmentwide training for administering naloxone, a nasal spray to counter the effects of an overdose. As of mid-May, 65 people in New Orleans died this year from opiate overdoses, according to New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey Rouse. There were 63 opiate overdose deaths in all of 2015. As Gambit reported in a June cover story, however, statewide law enforcement had not yet been trained to administer the potentially life-saving drug.
HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will provide up to $11 million to 11 states to expand services to combat opiate abuse. Other targeted states include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Rhode Island.
4. Get on the bus
Ride New Orleans (RNO), a transportation advocacy group, presented its third annual "State of Transit" report last week, examining how the metro region is doing in public transport. RNO acknowledged the recently expanded service and extended hours on streetcar and bus lines operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), but noted the system continues to fail to provide "reliable access" for local workers. "The average New Orleanian with a car can reach 89 percent of the region's jobs in 30 minutes or less. But the average New Orleanian relying on transit can only reach 11 percent of those jobs in the same time period." To read the report, visit www.ride- neworleans.org.
5. Feds won't block
Two federal agencies say they have no interest defending the Battle of Liberty Place monument following a years-long agreement with the city of New Orleans to keep it in place. On Aug. 26, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation wrote the agencies have "no further or programmatic interest" in preventing the removal of the monument, which commemorates the 1874 white supremacist revolt against the state's Reconstruction-era government. Attorneys argued the monument "is not federal property, nor will the city expend federal funds for the proposed removal of the Liberty Monument."
Their dismissal glimpses a response from other federal agencies involved in a separate lawsuit filed by monument proponents trying to halt the city from removing the Liberty Place monument and three controversial statues memorializing leaders of the Confederacy. That lawsuit — filed immediately after the New Orleans City Council's December 2015 vote agreeing to take down the monuments — is held up in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. An oral hearing is set for Sept. 28.
6. Louisiana tops in obesity rates
The Trust for America's Health ranked Louisiana No. 1 in the nation in obesity in its annual "State of Obesity" report. It found that 69.2 percent of adults in the state are either overweight or obese, putting Louisiana in the Top 5 states in terms of percentages of adults with diabetes and hypertension. One bit of good news: Obesity rates of Louisiana preschoolers on the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) decreased significantly between 2008 and 2012.
7. Black and gold all over
After a disappointing 0-4 preseason showing, the New Orleans Saints kick off their regular season Sunday, Sept. 11, at noon in the Superdome in a matchup against the Oakland Raiders. The following week is an away game against the New York Giants on Sunday, Sept. 18, while the traditional rivalry comes Monday, Sept. 26, in prime time when the Black and Gold take on the hated Atlanta Falcons in the Dome.
8. Payton: No comment on Kaepernick
Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew headlines last week when he spoke out against San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Kaepernick's choice not to stand when the national anthem is played at NFL games as a silent protest of racial inequality. Brees later walked back his criticism, saying he supported Kaepernick's right to protest, but disagreed with the method.
Given the team's 0-3 preseason record at the time, perhaps coach Sean Payton had the smartest reaction: "Honestly, we have a lot more important things we're working on right here in our building."
9. Big Tymers reuniting at House of Blues Oct. 7
Cash Money Records duo Big Tymers — featuring label founder Bryan "Birdman" Williams, aka Baby, and influential producer, DJ and MC Mannie Fresh — will reunite Oct. 7 at House of Blues (225 Decatur St.). The duo parted ways more than a decade ago, leaving behind five studio albums and the foundations of a New Orleans rap empire that developed from the label's local beginnings into a global phenomenon. Big Tymers announced a reunion on the heels of Cash Money's partnership with Apple Music and the release of the documentary The Cash Money Story: Before Anythang.
10. Hints of GOP defeat?
Is U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy prepping for a loss by Donald Trump in the presidential election? During a C-SPAN interview last week, Cassidy said "The message we have is pretty good; it may turn out that Mr. Trump is not the messenger," before going on to sketch out ways the Republican leadership could work with Hillary Clinton should she become president. Cassidy also addressed the Senate candidacy of white supremacist and neo-Nazi David Duke, saying, "In Louisiana, it's a non-event."