NEW ORLEANS — Organizers working to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said they are confident enough voters will go along with her leadership amid a surge in violent crime and questionable travel and spending that have raised ethical concerns. be dissatisfied.
The recall began airing TV ads last month, and letters have been sent to voters across the city asking them to sign a petition that includes their name on prepaid cards that can be returned free of charge.
It’s about the city’s violent crime rate, Cantrell’s expensive international travel at taxpayer expense, and lackluster city services like inadequate garbage collection and non-functioning streetlights, said Eileen Carter, Cantrell’s former social media manager who worked with Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste. a former New Orleans mayoral candidate to submit the recall motion in the summer.
In addition, critics claim that Cantrell was absent from several important events and meetings in the city.
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French President Emmanuel Macron (center left) walks through the French Quarter with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell during a recent diplomatic tour. A group conducts a recall against Cantrell, focusing on the city’s high violent crime rate and questions about Cantrell’s taxpayer-funded trips abroad. (Fox News Digital)
“The national term ‘quiet quiet,’ that’s what our mayor did,” Carter told Fox News Digital, referring to the term for employees doing the bare minimum in their jobs. “Our mayor will literally not say the word crime. She has distanced herself from crime. She refuses to be involved at all.”
“Our mayor will literally not say the word crime. She has distanced herself from crime. She refuses to be involved at all.”
– Eileen Carter
As of Monday, the New Orleans Police Department has investigated 248 homicides this year, a police spokesman told Fox News Digital. In 2021, the city had lost 218 lives, the most since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.
The city has a population of nearly 377,000, according to 2021 US Census Bureau estimates, making its homicide rate one of the highest per capita rates in the country. In September, the city became the country’s so-called murder capital as the number of murders increased by 140%.
“I don’t take it at all,” Cantrell said in reference to that label at the time.
Fox News Digital has reached out to Cantrell’s office multiple times, as well as her PAC, Action New Orleans.
Carter said her group has about a third of the more than 53,000 signatures needed from registered voters to get the recall question on a ballot. The deadline for filing the petition is February 22, 2023. Carter said she is targeting 70,000 signatures to offset those that registrars may deem invalid.
She was reluctant to reveal the latest number of signatures on the recall petition, fearing sabotage by Cantrell supporters. Cantrell’s team previously dismissed the recall as a Republican-backed move to “undermine and discredit New Orleans’ first black woman mayor.”
If the petition is submitted and approved, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards must call a new election in which voters would decide Cantrell’s political fate. If the petition fails to meet requirements, residents must wait 18 months to file another recall under Louisiana election law.
Organizers of the recall against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell have sent out petitions to registered voters. (Courtesy of Eileen Carter)
New Orleans has never recalled a mayor in modern times. If Cantrell becomes first, the city council would have to appoint an acting mayor from its two members, who are elected citywide – councilors Helena Moreno and Jean Paul “JP” Morrell – until an election is held, Professor Robert Collins said in Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University in New Orleans.
The other five council members are elected by the district. Cantrell was first elected mayor in 2017 and re-elected in 2021.
When the recall was first announced, there was skepticism among local and state policy observers, Collins said.
“Originally we didn’t think they had a chance,” he told Fox News Digital. “It used to be just two volunteers and now they’re doing TV ads against the mayor, so that’s going to be effective.”
He expects backers of the recall to know if they have enough valid signatures by early next year.
A recall request to the State of Louisiana dated August 26, 2022. (Courtesy of Eileen Carter)
The main issue Cantrell opponents continue to focus on is the city’s crime problems and the mayor’s alleged laxity in handling the matter amid a dwindling police force. The New Orleans Police Department lost more than 150 officers under Cantrell’s supervision in 2021 amid a spate of killings and carjackings.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson announced his resignation last week and will officially resign on December 22. The city council has recommended a statewide search for a replacement.
“We must do everything we can to recruit more police officers,” Councilor Eugene Green told Fox News Digital last week after Cantrell’s State of the City address.
“We must do everything we can to recruit more police officers.”
– New Orleans City Councilman Eugene Green
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Aside from the spike in homicides, some local residents have questioned Cantrell’s August 18 court appearance in support of a teenage carjacker at a sentencing hearing. The 14-year-old was convicted on five counts of auto theft for crimes committed within two days.
He was sentenced to three years probation and no jail time following Cantrell’s court visit. Citywide carjackings increased 168% from 2019 to 2022, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC), a nonprofit group that tracks crime in New Orleans.
As of Dec. 11, the city reported 265 carjackings, according to MCC data. Shootings and armed robberies were also ongoing.
Add to that the mayor’s costly trips abroad last summer to the European cities of Ascona in Switzerland and Juan Antibes-les-Pins on the French Riviera. Her trips have cost the city nearly $45,000, including first-class international flights with reclining seats.
“It just looked like she was milking her last term for every penny of the taxpayer dollar for her pleasure,” Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue, a former Orleans Township Attorney and member of the Bayou Mama Bears, told Fox News Digital. “It didn’t seem real that these trips were meant to help New Orleans. It seemed like they were selfish, like a bucket list.”
In September, Cantrell defended the cost of her trip, saying: “My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not luxury. … I need to be safe as I am doing business on behalf of the City of New Orleans.”
The mayor has also come under fire for allegedly using an expensive two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the French Market Corporation’s Upper Pontalba Building in Jackson Square as his personal residence without paying rent, even though the property is owned by the city. The mayor’s comings and goings from the apartment were the subject of a two-month investigation FOX8 New Orleans, who in September reported combing through more than 600 hours of surveillance footage.
The outlet found Cantrell at the home almost every day for a 26-day period, often staying for hours and sometimes overnight.
She defended her record in November when asked by the news outlet if it was appropriate to spend almost 20% of the year out of town or out of the country.
Itinerary of Mayor Cantrell in Ascona, Switzerland (City of New Orleans)
“I can point to the results on the ground,” she said. “The ongoing budget hearings speak to the work my administration and team have done and continue to do for the City of New Orleans on public safety, housing and infrastructure, and I can literally move on.”
During her State of the City address last week, Cantrell touted investments from NASA and other groups in the city.
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Carter, the organizer of the recall, objected to the mayor’s credit for things prior to her tenure. She said the mayor’s failure to properly attend to the day-to-day running of the city has resulted in a lack of proper planning and oversight by various city departments.
“The mayor is the executive branch. She has all the departments,” Carter said. “Every department is on fire because it’s literally not at work.”
“Every department is on fire because it’s literally not at work.”
– Eileen Carter