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

LaToya Cantrell's stays at Pontalba draws ire from councilman. 'This cannot stand.'
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The New Orleans City Council should reconsider allowing Mayor LaToya Cantrell to socialize at the city owned Upper Pontalba Building apartment after video published Tuesday appeared to show Cantrell skirting a city ordinance that forbids the mayor from staying overnight there, Council member Joe Giarrusso said Wednesday.

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 restrict the mayor’s use of the French Quarter apartment altogether and put it up for rent.

Giarrusso didn’t say which option 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.

In April, the council rejected Council President JP Morrell’s proposal to convert the apartment traditionally reserved for the mayor to a rental. Instead, the council’s 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.”

Morrell declined to comment Wednesday. A spokesperson referred a reporter to Morrell’s comments in April, when he 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 – which the city has owned and allowed mayors to use for decades – came under scrutiny in the fall after WVUE-TV obtained surveillance footage showing Cantrell frequenting the apartment and occasionally staying overnight.

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

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About Mary Weyand 11873 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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