Beleaguered New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Tuesday she would reimburse the city for nearly $30,000 in first-class plane tickets to Europe — a sudden reversal that came after a member of the city council threatened to take action to recover the money.
The Democrat previously resisted refunding the money, saying luxury flight upgrades on trips to Switzerland and France were for legitimate business purposes, boosting the city’s economic development.
But the city attorney and Cantrell’s own administrative director recently said the charges should be reimbursed.
And city council president Helena Moreno said last month the council had the power to cut the mayor’s salary next year if she didn’t pay for the improvements.
Cantrell, during a groundbreaking Tuesday for a YWCA facility, didn’t give a timeline for repaying the money, telling a reporter, “I’m not doing that. I don’t need to do this.
She insisted travel upgrades were “business expenses” necessary for her health and well-being, noting the COVID-19 pandemic. She also mentioned security issues.
“Based on the policy review, however, I will have to refund,” she conceded. “So I’m going ahead to do it.”
His about-face came after the city attorney ruled that Cantrell was considered a city employee and, as such, must follow a policy requiring all city employees to pay out of pocket for any upgrades. of travel.
Cantrell, 50, sparked a separate controversy when it was revealed she was living rent-free in a city-owned luxury $3,000-a-month apartment in the French Quarter.
When asked about her use of the unit on Tuesday, the mayor defended her actions, saying she was following the example of previous mayors.
But an investigation published last week by news station WvUE-TV accused her of potentially violating a city employee policy that reads: “Use of city property is at work-related purposes and not for personal benefit”.
A separate report released Thursday by the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a civic organization dedicated to exposing public corruption, claimed Cantrell had been living in the upscale apartment for months, with another city employee apparently acting as a building superintendent.
He also revealed that the mayor – who earns $188,000 a year – had installed privacy screens on the balcony and received packages at the address, according to the report.
With pole wires
New York Post