Our Views: Mayor Cantrell Remains Deaf to Constituent Concerns

Photo Courtesy of Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s Facebook Page

Nearly 50% of New Orleanians disapprove of the mayor’s performance at this point, but that hasn’t deterred her from staying the course. Over the past several weeks, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has faced criticism on trash contracts, crime, her outlandish travel spending, and more. Yet in almost every interest, she has ignored the concerns of her constituents and attempted to defend her actions – or even doubled down. Let’s take a deep dive into the issues of the past several weeks:

Cantrell Doubles Down on Supporting a Convicted Juvenile Carjacker

In a rush press conference on Wednesday, Cantrell defended a convicted 14-year-old carjacker at his sentencing hearing, saying that she didn’t pick sides – she also showed compassion to the victims by stopping to tell them “God Bless You” on her way out of the court proceedings. Cantrell’s support of the juvenile has drawn national attention, in spite of the fact that this isn’t the first time that the mayor has supported a juvenile suspect in court. However, over the last several months, crime – particularly juvenile crime and carjackings in particular – have been a growing concern for residents. For residents already increasingly frustrated and concerned over crime and juvenile crime, seeing the mayor appear in support of a convicted juvenile rather than specifically in support of the victims could seem like taking sides – even if that wasn’t the mayor’s intention.

Cantrell Defends Her Travel Spending

During the same press conference, Cantrell took time to defend her travel spending – over $120,000 this year alone. Earlier this month, a WDSU investigation found that the mayor’s recent trip to France cost the city an astounding $43,000 (more than a year’s salary for a new NOPD recruit or a New Orleans firefighter), prompting the New Orleans City Council to file legislation aiming to cap non-essential travel expenses for city officials at $1,000 per trip. Cantrell has defended her travel as an attempt to grow the city’s economy.

“It is my job. I will continue to do my job. It was absolutely worth it,” Cantrell said.

But many feel like she should be focused more on the other aspects of her job – such as improving public safety, bringing new businesses (rather than just tourists) to the city, and ensuring city departments such as the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and Department of Public Works are working effectively and efficiently. Her continued defense of outlandish travel spending while residents become increasingly frustrated is incredibly tone-deaf.

“Yeah, Yeah, Trash Contracts”

It’s no surprise that one of the repeated questions that Cantrell received during her recent round of town-hall style meetings throughout the city was on the city’s trash contracts. Since Hurricane Ida, New Orleans residents have been paying the same price for greatly reduced and at times unreliable trash service. Many had hoped that with the announcement of new trash contracts, bi-weekly pickups would resume. But that hasn’t – and won’t – happen. Cantrell’s obvious annoyance with citizens’ repeated concerns over the issue shows that she’s out of touch on what is obviously a key issue for her constituents.

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