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City Council votes to establish commitee to investigate Hard Rock collapse

Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 10:52 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - It’s been more than three months since the multi-storied Hard Rock Hotel collapsed onto dozens of workers killing three.

Its exclusion area has closed city blocks to commerce.

But the public still wants to know how it happened.

“We were told from day one the priority was to retrieve the bodies,” says one resident. “This is the heart of the city disrupting transit which impacts lives across the city.”

City Council members convened the special meeting to hear public comment and testimony from state and city agencies before unanimously voting to create the City Council’s Canal Street collapse special committee.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell made it a point to not attend the special meeting as her administration asked the council not to create the committee fearing it would impede investigations into the collapse.

The Office of the Inspector General also revealed they had an ongoing investigation into the city’s Department of Safety and Permitting, which encompassed the Hard Rock collapse. The also asked the council to defer “any review of the specific circumstances” of the Hard Rock in favor of the investigations underway.

City Council President Helena Moreno refuted these points.

“It is the City Council’s role under the charter to have this level of involvement. With that being said, we do not intend nor ever have intended to intervene or interfere with an ongoing investigation,” says Moreno. “Aside from the IG, no federal, local or state investigators have sent notice to the council with any concern and with respect to the IG, the venue we’re creating today will be appropriate for him to present his findings.”

“I find this totally unprecedented and could set a dangerous precedent so I expect a lot more discussion by the ethics review board about what will play out,” says FOX 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman.

FULL HARD COLLAPSE ROCK COVERAGE HERE

Sherman is referring to the Office of the Inspector General’s request say it is outside the office’s scope of responsibilities.

“The Inspector General in an unprecedented fashion weighed in on a political discussion between the mayor and the City Council about whether the council should exercise one of the authorities it has to investigate,” says Sherman.

Moreno says as a council, it’s especially their responsibility to ask questions for the families of the men still trapped inside.

“Because answers and justice is what they deserve,” says Moreno.

The Inspector General spoke to FOX 8 regarding the investigation but said he would not comment outside the statement issued earlier in the week.

City Council Vice-President Jason Williams said today that the collapse has cost the city more than $10 million.

Councilmembers were also able to question members from the Louisiana Workforce Commission but found they had no insight into the Federal OSHA investigation into the site.

The Federal OSHA report is expected to be completed six months from the collapse, sometime in April.

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