Cantrell Woes Continue to Multiply with Hits from Council and Ex NOPD Chief

Photo Credit: Jenn Bentley, Big Easy Magazine

The hits keep on coming for Mayor LaToya Cantrell. On Wednesday, the New Orleans City Council announced they will consider docking the mayor’s 2023 salary if she fails to pay back tens of thousands of dollars spent on upgrading overseas flights to France and Switzerland. In addition, former New Orleans police chief Warren Riley says that Cantrell’s administration has failed to pay a lawsuit settlement on time, and is now seeking to reopen the case.

Both headlines come in the midst of a recall effort that is already proving more successful than expected and appears to be driven by the group considered most likely to support Cantrell – New Orleans women.

Council Considers Docking Cantrell’s Pay

City policy states that government employees traveling on behalf of the city are required to seek the lowest fares possible and that any employee who upgrades is solely responsible for the difference in cost. However, Mayor Cantrell has repeatedly refused to pay back nearly $30,000 spent on first-class flight upgrades on trips to France and Switzerland, stating that the upgrades were necessary to ensure her safety as a Black woman.

“Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world Black women walk in,” Cantrell said in a statement.

However, documents originally reported by WDSU showed that the mayor’s security person and other staffers who traveled with her flew economy during a July trip to France, while Cantrell herself upgraded to first class.

“I definitely want the mayor to be safe,” said New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno in a tweet in August. “So, if she felt she needed security, she should have flown economy class with him.”

Moreno says that the city charter gives the city council the power to reduce the mayor’s salary if she fails to pay for the upgrades – though she remains hopeful Cantrell will pay the money back.

Former NOPD Chief Reopens Lawsuit Against Cantrell

Last month, Cantrell’s administration settled a lawsuit with former NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley over a rescinded job offer worth $180,000 per year to serve as her public safety and homeland security director. In the initial lawsuit, Riley sought $700,000 in damages, stating that he had already quit his $170,000-a-year job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency when the offer was rescinded after a public outcry.

Riley is now seeking to reopen the lawsuit, stating that Cantrell has not paid on the out-of-court settlement on time.

“It is a substantial injustice to allow the defendant, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, to break her word, yet, again, at Mr. Riley’s expense,” a motion to reopen the lawsuit reads.

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