LaToya Cantrell

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Orleans to host Super Bowl in 2024

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 9:20 AM


New Orleans will host one of those Super Bowls in 2024, marking the 11th anniversary of that time Beyonce killed the power in the Superdome.

The NFL awarded New Orleans its 11th hosting gig after a bid presentation dubbing New Orleans as a neon-lit "2024/7" city.

In a statement, New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson said "hosting a Super Bowl is synonymous with New Orleans as is the legacy of my husband Tom Benson."

“This is a great honor and well deserved for our city as New Orleans and our Gulf South region continue to prosper in so many ways," Benson said.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans would create a "tremendous" economic impact — the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation measures the last New Orleans-hosted Super Bowl's impact at $480 million, with $21 million to the state.

"So we’re talking a significant shot in the arm," Cantrell said. "We have proven that our destination is second to none — it is special and I believe the NFL recognizes that fact. They’re not coming to New Orleans for the 11th time for no reason.”

And that was a whole thing — from the first large-scale glimpses of the impacts of short-term rentals in New Orleans to Beyonce singing the national anthem at a press conference, the weird world of international press descending on the city, many for the first time under vastly different circumstances, to 86-ing Roger Goodell around town and then-Mayor Landrieu telling us to not do that .

Of course, Super Bowl LVIII (58) will fall right in the middle of Carnival on Feb. 4 — 10 days before Fat Tuesday.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cantrell decides against hiring Warren Riley for top post in her administration

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:54 PM

Former New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Former New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell will not be hiring former New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley for a high-ranking position in her administration, Cantrell's office announced today.

In a statement, Cantrell said "Mr. Riley’s qualifications are undeniable," but "I have listened to the people of New Orleans on both sides, and I have decided not to move forward with his employment."
Riley had been considered for the position of Director of Homeland Security & Public Safety in Cantrell's new administration, and two sources close to the administration told Gambit that Cantrell was ready to name Riley to the job May 2 when she announced several other major appointments. In the hours before her announcement, though, she changed her mind and announced she was "pressing 'pause'" on Riley.

Had the appointment gone through, Riley would have overseen the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the New Orleans Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Riley led NOPD after the Danziger Bridge shootings of 2015, and while he was not chief during the shootings themselves, he was in charge of the department during the coverup of the incident that left two dead and four wounded.


In a statement, Riley says he "learned this morning in a telephone conversation with Mayor LaToya Cantrell that she has rescinded her official appointment of me," which he says was imminent prior to Cantrell's announcement of a hiring "pause" — Riley says he "was preparing to return to City Government, having undergone employment administration processes, including security and background checks and a drug test."

Riley also says he was introduced to Cantrell's team as Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety and held a group session with law enforcement officials before a meeting with Cantrell 30 minutes before her press conference announcing roles in her administration. At that meeting, Riley says, Cantrell "informed me that she was putting a pause on my appointment."

Riley's statement also included an offer letter from Cantrell, dated April 22, offering Riley an annual salary of $180,000.

"Today's decision by Mayor Cantrell to reverse her initial decision and rescind my appointment is concerning on several levels," Riley said. "I am aware of the rumors and untruths being spread questioning my personal character and professional reputation."

Riley's statement also addresses the Danziger Bridge shootings and incident reports to "set the record straight."

Read Cantrell's statement and Riley's statement below.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Warren Riley: An existential threat to Mayor Cantrell

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 12:31 PM

Former New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Former New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley.

Nobody has a stronger survival instinct than a politician, so it’s surprising to see new Mayor LaToya Cantrell cling to an idea that threatens her political viability in an existential way. I’m talking about her refusal to abandon — publicly and unequivocally — the notion of hiring former New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley as her “director of homeland security and public safety.”

The title is a new one created by Cantrell. If it sounds like an amped-up police commissioner, well, that’s exactly how Cantrell describes it.

Which is what makes her continued talk of filling that position with Riley so surprising — and so dangerous to her own political survival.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Mayor Cantrell sends letter to city employees: 'We public servants have to stick together'

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 3:11 PM


Shortly after her inauguration this morning, Mayor LaToya Cantrell sent a letter to City of New Orleans employees, asking them for their patience and saying she'll be soon be sending out a survey to solicit their opinions on a wide variety of matters.

"The City has been doing some things the same way for a long, long time," Cantrell wrote. "Sometimes that’s a beautiful tradition, like today’s inaugural events. But sometimes we have just gotten stuck in an old way of doing things and it’s time to update how we operate. Change can be uncomfortable, but I know that if we stick together as a team — as a family — we will come out the other side in a better place."
Cantrell added, "Your perspective, your eyes and ears, are valuable front-lines of information we have, and I am listening. Let me know what you are proud of, and how you see us moving forward, together."

Under the jump: the entire letter.

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'It's got to be we': LaToya Cantrell sworn in as New Orleans' first female mayor

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 2:40 PM


Formally sworn at 11 a.m. Monday, May 7, Mayor LaToya Cantrell inherits New Orleans City Hall as the city's first woman mayor, with no shortage of things on her to-do list.

With hundreds of family members and current and former city and state officials in the audience, the ceremony at the Mahalia Jackson Theater leaned on familiar themes and phrases: rise, forward, we, us, together — the now-standardized address to the city’s “we” echoing now-former Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s promises of “one team, one fight, one voice, one city” and Cantrell's populist campaign spirit of building something together. In Cantrell’s vision it’s an “intentional and inclusive” New Orleans that will “strive toward equity and opportunity for all.”

“You don’t quit on your families,” she said, “regardless of what that family looks like.”

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Assessing Mitch Landrieu's legacy

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 1:32 PM

  • Mitch Landrieu.

Like mayors before him, Mitch Landrieu worries about his legacy. It’s understandable. Mayors spend much of their time saying “no,” either because there’s never enough money to do all that’s asked or because some things are just bad ideas. Then, at the end of their tenures, they get criticized for all they couldn’t or didn’t do — and for things that didn’t go very well.

Perhaps hoping to get in front of the inevitable evaluations, Hizzoner made the rounds of local media in recent weeks asking for “exit interviews.” He passed out slick reports touting his accomplishments. Fair enough. It’s beyond dispute that Landrieu left the city in far better shape than he found it — on many levels — and he has every right to crow about that.

On the other hand, Landrieu cannot deny that he could (and should) have done some things better — though, like most politicians, he offers a ready litany of excuses and explanations.

Herewith my “performance review” of his tenure.

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S&WB plans, short-term rentals and housing, new positions, public works projects outlined in Cantrell plan

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Less than a week before her inauguration, Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell and her transition team released an extensive 135-page report outlining the team’s recommendations for Cantrell’s administration as it prepares to enter City Hall.

Among those recommendations is to come up with a plan for the Sewerage & Water Board to purchase power to run its pumps, rather than rely on the Carrollton plant and network of generators. That plan, assembled by her Forward Together New Orleans transition team, would shift the S&WB pumps from power generation to power purchasing, which Cantrell says could save the city millions of dollars annually.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Report: Women on the rise in post-Katrina New Orleans politics

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 1:04 PM

A demonstrator holds a sign at a 2017 protest for International Women's Day. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • A demonstrator holds a sign at a 2017 protest for International Women's Day.

A new Tulane University report finds that women are both running for office more frequently and winning more elections in New Orleans in the years since Hurricane Katrina.

In "Assessing Equity in Political Representation in New Orleans," authors Mirya R. Holman and Chloe Schwanz found that women made up the majority of the New Orleans City Council in every council cycle since Katrina, whereas other city councils nationally are typically 25 to 30 percent female. (Three of seven, or 42 percent, of incoming council members are women.)

New Orleans also has elected an average of two women per election since 2005, up from 1.17 women in the pre-Katrina years.

"As the proportion of women and African-American council members increase, so do the policies that benefit constituents of these groups, increasing equity," the authors wrote. "With the election of our first woman mayor, along with a majority women and people of color city council, New Orleans moves into a new era of representation."

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Editorial: Why LaToya Cantrell will have no honeymoon period as mayor

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 11:19 AM

  • LaToya Cantrell.

Most politicians get a honeymoon period after they’re elected — constituents allow them a few mulligans as they get used to their new duties. LaToya Cantrell, who takes office as New Orleans’ 51st mayor next week, may get no do-overs, however. There are several reasons why.

First, due to staggered changes in New Orleans’ election and inauguration dates, Cantrell had more than five months to prepare for office. Future mayors-elect will have more like two months. The long transition should have been a blessing, but it appears Cantrell and her team squandered that opportunity. Despite having months to vet her picks for key city positions, most weren’t announced until this week, just days before her scheduled inauguration. Many others remained unannounced at press time. The lack of a full slate of high-level staff just days before her inauguration signals a lack of organization and focus in the mayor-elect’s transition team. We can only hope she gains traction quickly once in office, because things will not slow down going forward.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mitch Landrieu: Gambit's exit interview

Posted By and on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 1:34 PM


After three tries, Mitch Landrieu won the New Orleans mayor’s office in 2010 by a landslide. It was a singular triumph for the then-lieutenant governor, coming one day before the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. Everywhere else in town, however, things were not going so well. After eight years under now-disgraced — and jailed — Mayor Ray Nagin, the city’s post-Katrina recovery stagnated and citizens as well as businesses seemed to lose confidence in New Orleans’ ability to bounce back.

Landrieu brought new energy and focus to the job, and billions of federal recovery dollars have changed the cityscape dramatically. Landrieu points to new recreation centers, new schools, new libraries, a new airport (set to open early next year) and new additions along the riverfront as examples of what may be the largest municipal recovery program in American history.

Equally important, Landrieu worked with the City Council to pull the city out of a $97 million operating deficit in his first year in office. Today, the city’s bond rating is the highest it’s ever been — and the budget has been balanced for seven straight years, with millions in a reserve fund. His administration also has been free of corruption scandals.

But not all went well for Landrieu. The city’s violent crime rate remains too high; his early belt-tightening came at a frighteningly high cost to police manpower; and a downpour last August 5 exposed incompetence, indifference and severe infrastructure deficiencies at the Sewerage and Water Board. If finishing on a high note is what matters, Landrieu’s legacy is tarnished by the S&WB debacle — which is probably why he (with a coterie of top aides and department heads) has gone to great lengths to seek “exit interviews” with local media.

Here is ours.

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