Political Blackmail: SWB Infrastructure Funding Withheld Over New Orleans Abortion Stance

Photo Credit: Justin Credible, Twitter

The Louisiana State Bond Commission denied $39 million in funding for a critical New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure project at the urging of Attorney General Jeff Landry. According to Landry’s official Facebook page, Landry urged the commission to withhold the funding due to the July 7 New Orleans City Council resolution forbidding city law enforcement from enforcing the state’s abortion ban.

“The officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our State, yet they have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement,” Landry’s post said. “In light of the City’s open defiance of the will of the people of Louisiana, I continue to my efforts on the State Bond Commission.”

The August 20 vote is the second time that the state bond commission has delayed the requested funds, which are supposed to support the New Sewerage and Water Board Power Plant, Planning, and Construction project. According to city officials, the project is vital to helping reduce and prevent street flooding across the city.

“They’re expecting it to flood, so you can now legally park on the neutral ground because of rains,” said Sen. Jimmy Harris (D-New Orleans), a legislator sitting on the bond commission. “That’s actually happening in the city right now. That’s what we’re dealing with. That’s what this particular project is attempting to help us, to where we don’t have to drown.”

All three of the state’s abortion clinics – including one in New Orleans – shut down in July after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing a state abortion ban passed in 2006 to take effect.

“There are no abortions being performed in Louisiana, much less in Orleans Parish, right now,” noted Matthew Block, executive counsel for Gov. John Bel Edwards. “So this idea that because there were statements made and a resolution passed that, somehow in the future, there might not be enforcement of law – that’s not happening right now.”
According to civil rights lawyer and former President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, Landry’s move amounts to authoritarian political blackmail.
“I don’t think we’re responding with the urgency these authoritarian moves deserve. This is blackmail, not ordinary politics. And it’s becoming normalized. Trump was impeached for conduct like this.”
According to Cantrell, the bond commission’s move won’t stop the power plant project from moving forward.
“We cannot afford to put politics over the rights of people, and particularly safeguarding people from hurricanes and other disasters, because we are on the front lines of climate change,” Cantrell said in a CNN interview.

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