New Orleans City Council Defers Appointment of Prop 2 Supporter to NOPL Board

Photo courtesy of NOPL

UPDATE: This article has been edited to reflect the New Orleans City Council Committee’s decision to defer the appointment of Dana Henry to the NOPL Board.

This afternoon, the New Orleans City Council Government Affairs Committee deferred the appointment of Dana Henry to the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). Henry currently serves as the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at Einstein Charter Schools and was a vocal proponent of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s failed Proposition 2, which would have cut the NOPL budget by 40 percent.

Proposition 2 was one piece of a three-part millage readjustment plan pushed heavily by Mayor Cantrell’s administration in 2020. The YES campaign spent over $109k attempting to persuade voters to support the measure. However, while it originally received widespread support from local officials and media, it was later revealed that Cantrell and others had pushed misinformation in order to drive support for the measure. When that fact was widely reported in local media, Cantrell turned to threatening layoffs of city employees should the measures be defeated. Eventually, several local groups, including the Power Coalition withdrew their support for the measure, and The Gambit even issued an apology to readers for their endorsement. Voters overwhelmingly defeated the measure, with 57 percent voting against it.

With the current NOPL millage expiring at the end of 2021, members of the NOPL board will begin drafting a new millage for voters to consider on the 2021 ballot. As the people who will decide what to include in the new millage proposal, those appointed to the board and its various committees of particular interest.

“Mr. Henry publicly supported Proposition 2 last December. The voters spoke LOUD & CLEAR last year by voting #NoOn2 to #SaveYournolaLibrary. Shouldn’t the Library reflect the voter’s interests?” posted the group Save Your NOLA Library on Facebook Wednesday. Save Your NOLA Library was largely responsible for the campaign that helped defeat the 2020 millage readjustment.

Without a new millage, NOPL will lose 50 percent of its current budget – something library supporters say the system cannot afford. In 2018 and 2019, NOPL spent over 97 percent of its allocated budget. In 2020, library users checked out over 1.3 million books, movies, audiobooks, and ebooks, showing just how important the NOPL system is to city residents.

Because the appointment was not taken up by the committee today, public comment on the issue was not read aloud, however, council members noted that any written comments submitted would be circulated among councilmembers.

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