Belden Batiste: New Orleans Needs New Leadership; Rebuffs Response to NOLA Tribune

Photo source: Facebook

Editor’s note: Belden Batiste and Eileen Carter filed a petition with the Secretary of State to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell.  The petition has received overwhelming response from New Orleanians voters, many of whom are upset with Cantrell’s lack of leadership. 

The Tribune newspaper recently published an editorial in support of Cantrell. Batiste wrote a scathing response which Big Easy Magazine is publishing in its entirety.

The Tribune’s article titled It Ain’t About Us misrepresents the intent of the recall. Why does it bother you that this action is sponsored by black people?  YOU say,  WE are complicit in doing others’ dirty work. Regardless of race, ethnicity and gender, WE SHOULD HOLD ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE FOR  THEIR ACTIONS. Well, your opinion is your opinion, BUT YOUR STORY DOES NOT CONSIDER ALL FACTORS LEADING TO THIS DECISION. 

Our thoughts expressed from the beginning is that our city’s present condition is in need of leadership. Mayor LaToya Cantrell has not provided that leadership. The recall is not about personality. But, if you would take an honest look at our city’s condition, without any partiality, you would see the handwriting on the wall.

Let’s deal with some real issues:

  • The citizens of New Orleans are paying for two days of trash collection, yet, trash is collected once a week. Where are the extra funds going?
  • The City of New Orleans is filthy. Take a ride around the city; it reflects death, a dead spirit.
  • The streets are undriveable, unsafe, and reflect a lack of care for the City of New Orleans and her people.

    Source: Belden Batiste
  • Members of the New Orleans Police Department are leaving in large numbers. Many police districts are not adequately manned to handle life-threatening matters or quality-of-life issues.
  • The 911 Communications Center was ordered to downgrade serious offenses, including sexual offenses. We are aware that this department regularly operates with inadequate staffing, which got worse during the Cantrell administration.
  • New Orleans Youth who participated in the City’s Summer Program were not paid on time. 
  • The mishandling of the hotel collapse, the negligence, and disrespect for the dead and their families was shameful. As of this writing, the public does not know how the owner was allowed to demolish the historic Woolworth’s building.
  • The intentional delay in the release of funds to the families of Gordon Plaza continues as of this writing.
  • Provides insufficient allocation of funds to develop Lincoln Beach. A Commission was created without the community person who for years cleaned and continues to maintain the historic site. 
  • The Smart City debacle
  • The distribution of checks to culture bearers and other cultural venues serve as payment for support. The real issue is what has been done to implement economic sustainability for present culture bearers and generations. Please note, in my opinion, while the Mayor has engaged culture bearers more than in previous administrations, her plea for support from culture bearers presents a misleading impression. 
  • The consolidation of the Finance and Budget Departments
  • And, of course, the proposed destruction of the Municipal Auditorium, Congo Square, Louis Armstrong Park, and the Historic Treme Community, the first African American neighborhood in New Orleans and the United States, to name a few.

 Let’s address the present condition of New Orleans infrastructure. Is there such a thing? 

Source: Belden Batiste
  • Rampant flooding in areas that never flooded before Hurricane Katrina. Collapsed streets, broken water lines, high Sewerage and Water Board and New Entergy bills with no recourse of action for citizens, lack of affordable housing, mental health, crime committed by youth, and effective juvenile and family programs.
  • The lack of communication, cooperation, and collaboration between the Mayor’s office and the New Orleans City Council affect the operation of the city. There is a display of disrespect for the legislative body, really anyone who questions her decision-making.

Let’s talk about the lack of respect for the Mayor’s Office.  Everyone knows and speaks of the way Mayor LaToya Cantrell carries herself in public places. Just view Facebook, Instagram, Tic Tok, and other social media outlets. Mayor Latoya Cantrell is known for using profanity when talking to people. It doesn’t matter if they are dignitaries or citizens doing the work of the people of New Orleans. She has a bully mentality and appears to have no limits on self-control regarding addressing the business sector, constituents, and even her staff. Again, this is common knowledge. This list can go on and on. 

The Tribune writes that Cantrell did not let the powerful or elite bully her. I laugh at this statement because you know better than that. I am not going there. And when it is convenient to play the race card, Cantrell does just that. Also, you write about last year’s Mayoral election. I know you have the statistics of the Mayor’s race. Of the approximate 266,000 registered voters, Mayor LaToya Cantrell was elected by 48,750 voters. She was elected by a SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE. Her election was not a mandate of the Citizens of New Orleans; rather it was because the citizens of New Orleans did not take the other candidates, including me, seriously.

As a newspaper, your voice is essential to conversations. However, it is obvious that you have taken sides and have chosen to misrepresent the issues by making it a Black and White issue. And having the recall viewed as Black people unjustly fighting a Black Mayor. But you should never lend your voice against people who have dedicated their lives to serving others in community with integrity and commitment, and who don’t have an agenda against Mayor LaToya Cantrell. I say it again, this recall is about doing what is in the best interest of the City of New Orleans. SHAME ON YOU, TOO!

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