LaToya Cantrell’s stays at Pontalba draws ire from council members. ‘This cannot stand.’

LaToya Cantrell's stays at Pontalba draws ire from councilman. 'This cannot stand.'
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Council member Joe Giarrusso suggested the council could take Cantrell to court, where the council could request an injunction and ask a judge to penalize Cantrell for violating the ordinance.

Or, the council could simply bar the mayor’s use of the French Quarter apartment — a longtime perk of the office — and put it up for rent. Council President JP Morrell called for the council to take that action in April, before the council passed a narrower ordinance that only banned overnight stays.

Morell has re-filed his measure, which would convert the apartment to a rental, he said Wednesday. 

“The problems which we are now facing were predicted by Councilmember Morrell (in April), and it is no surprise that we are once again back in the same predicament,” Morrell spokesperson Monet Brignac said in a statement.

Giarrusso didn’t say which solution he’d prefer. “I support taking a step so that our laws are followed,” Giarrusso said, adding that “this cannot stand.”

WVUE-TV reported Tuesday that Cantrell stayed overnight twice at the apartment during Essence Fest, drawing on surveillance footage showing Cantrell entering the building late at night and leaving the following morning. 

A Cantrell spokesperson said Wednesday that the mayor would have no comment.

The council’s April ordinance said Cantrell could continue using the apartment to host parties or dignitaries — just that she couldn’t stay overnight. The council declined to include any penalties for doing so, nor did it specifically define “overnight stay.”

The footage published Tuesday showed Cantrell walking into the apartment on July 1 at 12:27 a.m., and leaving in different clothes at 9:37 a.m.

The next day at 1:54 a.m., Cantrell is seen entering the apartment with four women. She exits at 10:02 a.m. 

Council member Oliver Thomas, who proposed banning overnight stays instead of taking the apartment away, didn’t return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

In a statement, Council member Helena Moreno — a frequent Cantrell critic — said the council should defer the issue to outside authorities, vaguely referring to “agencies who are already investigating this administration.”

“The Council attempted to put reasonable restrictions on the use of the Pontalba Apartment … yet here we are again expending energy and time, because this mayor so often refuses to follow policies and laws,” Moreno said. “She just doesn’t seem to care.”

In April, Morrell told the council, “You have prohibited overnight stays. You have not prohibited parties that go the whole night.”

“When that happens,” he added, “I want everyone to look at the tape of this meeting and see we had an opportunity to solve this problem.”

Cantrell’s use of the apartment came under scrutiny in the fall after WVUE-TV obtained surveillance footage showing the mayor frequenting the apartment and occasionally staying overnight.

In March, New Orleans Inspector General Ed Michel recommended returning the apartment to the French Market Corp., the city agency that owns the building so that it could be rented by the general public. Those rentals could generate around $40,000 a year for taxpayers, Michel said.


About Mary Weyand 11641 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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