Even in this era of performative politics, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Aug. 24 news conference failed to live up to anyone’s expectations (or standards) but Heronner’s. Over the course of nearly a half-hour, she entertained only a handful of questions – and answered none of them.
Instead, she offered a rambling, incoherent series of contradictory dodges and deflections in response to inquiries about two of her worst decisions as mayor: her frequent, taxpayer-funded, first-class intercontinental travels; and her appearance di lei in Juvenile Court on behalf of a teenager convicted of multiple carjackings.
Worse, she doubled down on both affronts, vowing to continue her high-end travels as a “cultural ambassador” for the city and to offer solace to youthful offenders – but not necessarily to victims.
Here are some questions that went either unanswered or unasked, the latter thanks to her handlers’ ham-fisted shutdown of the “news conference,” which was timed to fill local 6 pm newscasts. Let’s see if any of them get answered.
• What’s so unsafe about flying coach? How exactly does a first-class seat protect you? If flying coach is unsafe, why invite foreign tourists to New Orleans when 95% or more of them will fly coach to get here?
• What is your travel schedule for the rest of 2022? Why does your administration use a travel agency – one of which is in Metairie, no less – to book travel?
• You said you went to Juvenile Court because the teen participates in your “Pathways” program. How long has the teen been in Pathways? Why was he in that program when he it’s not supposed to accept anyone convicted of violence offenses?
• You insisted you did not “take sides,” but how is sitting with the perpetrator not taking sides? What programs have you implemented to comfort victims of crime? You routinely get a list of juvenile offenders (because you asked for such a list) – have you ever requested a list of victims (who are typically identified in police reports)? If not, why not?
• On your recent flight to Washington, DC to ask the Department of Justice to end the federal consent decree governing NOPD, did you fly first class? What other expenses did you incur? Who accompanied you, and at what cost? Who at DOJ did you meet with, and for how long? Please release any records of that discussion, including DOJ’s response. Did you notify US District Judge Susie Morgan of your attempt to negotiate directly with DOJ? If so, how and when? If not, why not?
• Why did you sign a permanent extension of the Wisner Trust in 2020 when the courts declared the trust expired in 2014? Who, if anyone, recommended that you sign it?
• What steps, if any, is your administration taking to comply with the federal court order to build Phase III of the city prison?
• Were you or your campaign interviewed by federal law enforcement in connection with the investigation into former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson? If so, were any records requested of you or your campaign?
Between Heronner’s busy travel and counseling schedules, citizens eagerly await a reply.