Viewpoint: Crime and Cantrell will hurt the city’s bottom line

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Like many New Orleanians, I’ve been inundated with national and international news reports about New Orleans’ crime and Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s missteps. This week’s piece in the New York Post is only one of many recent examples. With New Orleans’ designation as “Murder Capital of the U.S.” and the lack of progress being made in reversing that trend, I expect those stories to become more frequent.

Bourbon Street is still hopping and no conventions have cancelled because of the record number of murders, armed robberies and carjackings. Perhaps some are naïve enough to believe that crime and Mayor Cantrell are not hurting our economy. I beg to differ.

I went off the grid most of last week in a small Southern town farther away than the perennial “one tank trip” only to find that New Orleans’ crime and the mayor’s actions automatically became the topic of discussion when locals learned where we lived. People would ask if New Orleans was really as bad as all the news reports. Did we feel safe? Why haven’t we moved away?

There is something to be said for small towns. People are inherently friendly. Strangers speak to each other as a matter of course. Citizens only carry guns when they are going hunting. No one is carjacking drivers at intersections or in front of their homes. Armed robberies are not the norm. The only sounds heard at night are crickets, not speed racers or random gun shots. Just close your eyes and smell the fresh air.

Of course, there are few five-star restaurants, fine clothing stores, Mardi Gras parades or Jazz Fest celebrations in most small towns in the South. But there is something to be said for being able to drive at night and not worry.

If Mayor Cantrell wants to fly first-class every time she travels, she should pay the difference. If Cantrell wants to have a mayor’s fund, it must be independent and follow accepted business practices. If funding select nonprofits with Wisner Trust dollars is a goal, she needs to work with — not against — the City Council. If she stays in a city-owned luxury apartment in the Upper Pontalba, as the Metropolitan Crime Commission has reported, she should pay the market rate. These indiscretions might not even matter if New Orleans was safe and prosperous. Unfortunately, the city is neither. What smart business will consider relocating employees and their families to a city where violence is endemic? Even Starbucks is closing on Canal Street.

Generally speaking, lots of folk who live five, six, eight or even 10 hours from New Orleans used to think nothing of popping down here for the weekend. Unfortunately, the people I know in one small Southern town are determined to keep their distance until crime is under control. Let’s hope change comes before it’s too late.

WHO IS GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS SUPPORTING FOR CLERK OF FIRST CITY COURT?

Political consultant Richard Carbo, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ former campaign manager, released a tweet earlier this week that Gov. Edwards has not endorsed a candidate in the race for Orleans Parish Clerk of First City Court and has no plans to do so. Eric Holl, Edwards’ deputy chief of staff, communications, confirmed that Carbo’s tweet was accurate. “You can trust Richard Carbo on this matter,” Holl wrote in an email.

Current Clerk Austin Badon is running for re-election against former interim City Councilwoman Donna Glapion, who most recently served as Chief Deputy Clerk at Second City Court.

Carbo’s tweet surprised Badon, who says that he and Edwards were friends from their years together at the Louisiana Legislature. Badon explained that Edwards made a commitment to support him in July 2022 and reiterated that commitment at the AFL-CIO picnic earlier this month.

“I’m not a liar and I’m not stupid. There’s no way that I would use the Governor’s name if he didn’t give me his support,” Badon told Uptown Messenger in a text. A photo of Gov. Edwards and a statement attributed to the governor are included on Badon’s hand card.

THERE’S NO EXCUSE TO PROCEED TO TRIAL WITHOUT THE WITNESS

District Attorney Jason Williams and his staff should be ashamed of themselves for trying the 15-year-old in the carjacking of Dr. Pat Dennis in front of his Garden District home without Dennis’ testimony. Williams said sheriff’s deputies tried to serve Dennis on three occasions but could not reach him at his home during normal working hours.

Emergency room physicians like Dennis spend their days at hospitals treating patients, not lounging on their living room couches. When the assistant district attorney realized Dennis had not been contacted, he or she could have changed the service address to the hospital or reached Dennis by phone, even as late as the night before the trial. Without Dennis’ testimony, the teenager was found not guilty in July and set free. Did the DA really want to prosecute this teen? Dennis told WWL-TV this week: “I’ve been robbed once by the individual, and I feel like I’ve been robbed by the city on the second count just because of the way the district attorney’s office handled the entire case from start to finish.” Williams issued an apology to Dennis.

WHERE TO SIGN RECALL PETITIONS THIS WEEKEND
Now that recall campaign organizers have reached 20% of their goal, the pace of signing parties is picking up. Petitions will be available for signing this weekend at multiple locations including the Lafitte Greenway, Carrollton and Oak, The Fly, Arts For Arts Sake, the Fried Chicken Festival and at the intersection of Canal Street and Norman C. Francis Parkway.

For a complete list of petition signing events visit NoLatoya.org. Orleans Parish registered voters can also download a petition that has space for 15 signatures and turn it back in to campaign organizers. Volunteers are also needed to help organize and staff petition signing events.

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, former City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at swampednola@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “Viewpoint: Crime and Cantrell will hurt the city’s bottom line

  1. Election was held in November 2021….where was the electorate then?. What was voter participation rate? Why do we receive more federal dollars than we send to Federal. Why is Louisiana always ranked if not dead last #49. I’m suspicious of recall motives and go after John “Vanderbilt” Kennedy and insurrectionist Scalise.

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