Council, Cantrell spar over access to Pontalba
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council on Thursday (Aug. 10) voted to relinquish Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s use of the Upper Pontalba Apartment and give the unit back to the French Market Corporation.
The ordinance puts the apartment back on the market, which the Inspector General said could generate nearly $36,000 a year for the city in rent.
The council passed the ordinance by a vote of 4-2. Council members Oliver Thomas and Eugene Green voted against the ordinance. Councilman Freddie King was absent.
Mayor Cantrell says she will use her executive power to veto the ordinance, a spokesperson tells Fox 8.
The mayor’s use of the apartment has been at the center of a series of Fox 8 investigations. Most recently, video from an FMC-operated camera outside the front door of the apartment showed Mayor Cantrell and other guests spending several nights at the apartment during the Essence Fest weekend, despite a city ordinance prohibiting such.
Some council members say Cantrell clearly violated the newly-passed ordinance which outlines how she and future mayors are allowed to use the city-owned apartment.
Council President J.P. Morrell says he believes this is the best move for the city. A spokesperson for his office says he is “not surprised” that the mayor plans to veto.
“What today is about is putting a unit back on the market to generate revenue to pay for things and programs and assets that we care about,” he said. “The Mayor is welcome to exercise her right to veto, as the City Council will exercise their right to override her veto. Once we receive her official veto, we will schedule a special meeting at the appropriate time.”
“It takes five votes to override a veto, so the City Council will need to pick up one more vote,” Dillard University political analyst Robert Collins said.
The council amended the ordinance to allow the public to be placed on a waiting list to become a tenant at the Pontalba apartment on a first-come, first-serve basis regardless of who they are. Morrell says the list already includes over 300 names.
Green says he doesn’t believe future mayors should be affected.
“The reality of what I know has transpired here in terms of politics should not impact all future mayors in terms of not having access,” Green said.
“It’s just a question of who can marshal the most votes on their side,” Collins said.
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