City attorney says Mayor Cantrell on the hook for $30k in travel upgrades

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 3:41 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The city attorney for New Orleans confirmed on Tuesday (Sept. 27) that Mayor LaToya Cantrell is in fact a city employee and a policy requiring city employees to pay back first-class travel upgrades applies to her.

It is now up to Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano to enforce the policy, according to the city attorney’s findings.

City Council President Helena Moreno says her office will write Mayor Cantrell a letter reiterating how important it is for her to pay back nearly $30,000 of taxpayer money spent on travel upgrades. If the mayor refuses, as she did earlier this month, Moreno says the council will move forward with legislation to dock her pay in 2023.

More: New Orleans mayor’s salary could be docked over first-class flight upgrades

Cantrell reiterated on Tuesday that the travel upgrades were not for luxury, but for her health and well-being. She said the threat of COVID has prompted her to fly first class in some cases and she’s previously cited security concerns.

“And I stand by [that] all day long,” she said.

“Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world Black women walk in,” Mayor Cantrell previously said in a statement.

In a press conference on Sept. 8, Mayor Cantrell told Fox 8′s Andres Fuentes she did not plan to pay the city back for flight upgrades on overseas flights.

“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans,” Mayor Cantrell said. “One thing is clear; I do my job and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way.”

The city policy states all traveling city employees are required to seek the lowest fares available or reimburse the city for deluxe accommodations.

The council begins budget talks in November.

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