A Democrat mayor who’s wasted nearly $30,000 of taxpayer money needlessly flying first class and business class is now refusing to reimburse the city on the grounds that flying coach is dangerous for women, particularly black women.
“My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury. As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has “previously” said, as reported last week by The Times-Picayune.
“As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be. Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”
Cantrell refuses to reimburse the city despite a policy that “states all traveling city employees are required to seek the lowest fares available or reimburse the city for deluxe accommodations,” according to local station WVUE.
“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans. One thing is clear; I do my job and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way,” she added during a press conference last Thursday.
At yesterday’s press conference, @FOX8NOLA was the only station that asked Mayor LaToya Cantrell about whether or not she will reimburse thousands of dollars to the city for her travel upgrades.
Here’s her full statement: pic.twitter.com/swA2flFIkc
— Andrés Fuentes (@news_fuentes) September 9, 2022
Cantrell’s latest trip, a visit last month with three aides to France to sign some sort of partnership agreement, cost the city $43,000, of which over $18,000 went toward just her flight expenses, according to a separate report published by The Times-Picayune last month.
“Her flights were booked through an agency called Going Places Travel on United, Delta and Air France and cost $18,442, according to city records. There were six segments: two in first class, three in business class and one in economy,” the report reads.
It’s not clear how, if flying coach is dangerous for black women, Cantrell managed to fly economy during one of the segments.
It’s also not clear why, despite personally flying first class and business class for most of the trip, Cantrell forced her aides to fly economy the whole way.
“All three flew economy, and their flights, collectively ringing in at $17,140, cost less than Cantrell’s alone,” the The Times-Picayune notes.
“Communications Director Gregory Joseph, Chief of Staff Clifton Davis & Robert Monlyn, who serves as Cantrell’s executive protection … all flew economy class on the flights … City records show the flights for the three cost $17,140, which is less than the mayor’s total flight.”
— Victoria M. Walker (@vikkie) August 23, 2022
The mayor’s staff has reportedly been trying to justify her exorbitant spending by claiming the city’s policy doesn’t apply to her because she was elected to office and is therefore not an employee.
Dillard University public policy professor Robert Collins thinks this argument is bull.
“It’s sort of like saying the president of the United States is not an employee of the federal government. He draws a salary. Of course he is. It’s like saying the governor of Louisiana is not an employee of state government. Of course he is. He is the CEO of the state government,” he said to WVUE.
“So to pretend there is some sort of legal difference between an elected official who draws a salary from a government agency and an employee of that government agency, I think it’s problematic,” Collins added.
It appears most New Orleans residents feel similarly. An online poll conducted last week by The Times-Picayune found that 68 percent of respondents believe the mayor should be recalled.
Meanwhile, an official poll conducted by Edgewater Research uncovered similar results:
According to that poll by Edgewater Research, 64.5% of the 402 registered Orleans Parish voters surveyed said they believe the city is headed in the wrong direction. Fifty-five percent of those polled said they believe Mayor Cantrell should be recalled and removed from office. pic.twitter.com/1am1IIjNCM
— Eileen Carter (@Eileen__Carter) September 7, 2022
Luckily for the mayor’s critics, she’s already facing a potential recall — one broadly supported by women, both black and white.
“Women voters – both black and white – could likely be the driving force behind current efforts to gather 53,000 verified signatures of Orleans Parish registered voters which would trigger an election to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell,” Big Easy Magazine reported last week.
Citing the results from Edgewater, the magazine noted that “[w]hen only responses from women are tabulated, support for the recall shoots up to 60 percent of white women and 56 percent of black women.”
“While Cantrell has always connected with black women voters, that strength appears to be slipping away,” the magazine added.
Why? Because she appears to have no financial discipline at all, as evidenced by both her current AND past behavior.
“New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell owes more than $95,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes over the course of six years, according to liens filed by the agency against her home in Broadmoor,” The Times-Picayune reported in 2020.
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