Viewpoint: The system is designed for New Orleans mayors to prevail

Critics of Mayor LaToya Cantrell have been having a field day recently with multiple incidents about which to complain. Yet it seems no matter how much venom is directed toward her, Cantrell manages to adroitly deflect every accusation like a sizzling fried egg sliding off a Teflon-coated pan.   

Case in point: U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan is demanding answers about the Public Integrity Bureau’s shoddy investigation of NOPD officer and Cantrell bodyguard Jeffrey Vappie. The good judge must know that it’s Cantrell who wields the big stick at the NOPD. Other than to extend the consent decree even longer, what recourse does the judge actually have?  Cantrell has already refused to allow her staff appear in Morgan’s courtroom. A long-awaited investigation by lawyers working for the City Council concluded that the informational mailer that Cantrell authorized during the recall campaign probably violated state law.

Viewpoint: The challenge to voting rolls shows how lazy New Orleanians are

Voting is a privilege that Americans often take for granted. Millions of people in countries around the world are willing to risk their lives for freedom, democracy and fair elections. Yet thousands of New Orleanians are labeled on the rolls as “inactive voters” because they haven’t gone to the polls often enough. 

Sure, some inactive voters have moved out of parish or out of state. Individuals who have passed away are purged. Yet there are still plenty of New Orleanians who end up on the inactive list because they are just too lazy to get off the couch on Election Day or cast their ballots in advance.

LaToya Cantrell’s website confirms candidacy for mayor, opening District B field

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell has formally embarked upon her campaign for mayor of New Orleans, her website now confirms, which will leave her District B seat open. Cantrell’s website ( now solicits donations for “LaToya’s campaign for Mayor of New Orleans,” as it highlights her leadership in Broadmoor’s recovery, her career on the City Council, and the disparities she sees between post-Katrina growth and the neighborhoods it hasn’t reached. Meanwhile, Cantrell has also begun accepting $5,000 donations for the seat — whereas she would have been limited to $2,500 donations for a council seat, according to our partners at The New Orleans Advocate, who first uncovered the changes to Cantrell’s website late Friday morning. At least three names are already in the ring for Cantrell’s District B seat. Two prospective candidates — former Zulu king Jay Banks and former Orleans Parish School Board member Seth Bloom — had said they would consider running if Cantrell vacates the seat, and urban planner Eric Johnson had said he would run regardless.

Green Tea restaurant reopens in new building on South Claiborne

Two years ago, Yung Lau could scarcely believe that his Green Tea restaurant at the edge of the Garden District was about to be displaced by a national pharmacy chain in a city as in love with mom-and-pop eateries as New Orleans. The CVS did indeed move in, but on Friday, Lau will reopen Green Tea in a brand-new building that is being hailed as another landmark in the continuing redevelopment of another major Uptown corridor, South Claiborne Avenue. Lau has spent his entire life working in restaurants, the family business, starting with his first job when he was 13 years old in the 1990s working in his father’s restaurant in tiny Hamilton, Ala., where there was no other Chinese restaurant within a two-hour drive. They later moved to North Carolina, and then again to Farmington, Conn., where the family wound up staying. “Everywhere my dad went, he had a restaurant,” Lau recalled with a laugh.

LaToya Cantrell tells supporters: “I am considering running for mayor”

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell — long considered one of the most likely top contenders as a candidate for New Orleans’ next mayor — announced to supporters last week that she is indeed considering a run for the position. Cantrell became heavily involved in post-Katrina politics in New Orleans through her leadership of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, and was elected to the open District B City Council seat vacated by Stacy Head’s election to an at-large position in a hard-fought four-way race in 2012. In 2013, Cantrell was re-elected to a full term in the seat without opposition — the only member of the City Council who did not draw a challenger that cycle. Speculation about a potential mayoral run has long surrounded Cantrell, notably when Politico Magazine profiled her in April 2015 with the headline, “LaToya Cantrell, Madame Mayor?” As the potential field for next fall’s election begins to materialize, however, Cantrell emailed her supporters last week to confirm that she is “considering” running for mayor.

Proposed low-barrier homeless shelter drawing opposition from schools, parents

By Claire Byun

A proposed low-barrier homeless shelter marketed as key to reducing the city’s homeless population is already drawing fire from school and community groups. The new shelter, proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, is planned for 3101 Erato Street in the B.W. Cooper neighborhood. That location is just a few blocks away from two schools: Sylvanie Wlliams College Prep and now-defunct Booker T. Washington High School, which is slated to be rebuilt.

About 100 people gathered in Sylvanie Williams’ cafeteria Monday afternoon to hear more details on the proposed shelter. City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell discussed the city’s need for both a low barrier shelter and crisis management shelter, but was abruptly interrupted by a woman who stormed out of the school. Other critics voiced their concerns about the safety of maintaining a shelter within two blocks of two schools, especially given the age of the students.

More focus on crime, blight, litter will attract more businesses to South Claiborne, officials say

Development on South Claiborne Avenue has made significant strides in recent years, but more attention is needed to quality-of-life issues of crime, blight, panhandling and litter in order to attract more retail investment to the corridor, City Council members said. On Thursday, City Councilwoman Stacy Head convened what she described as an annual summit before the council’s Governmental Affairs Committee about South Claiborne Avenue, which she hails as “New Orleans’ next high-quality retail corridor.” The discussion featured the heads of numerous city agencies, who each reviewed their departments’ commitment to improving and maintaining the busy stretch. Brenda Canada, vice president for retail attraction at the New Orleans Business Alliance, said she and others had just returned from the International Council of Shopping Centers convention, where businesses are expressing increased interest in moving to New Orleans. As recently as 2011, national retailers were still asking whether the city would be rebuilt, Canada said.

Temporary site for ‘low barrier’ homeless shelter could open by October, councilwoman says

A temporary site for a centrally located “low barrier” shelter for the homeless in New Orleans that would provide protection from the elements and access to public services could be open as soon as October, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said this week. The concept is based on a similar model in San Antonio, and both the city of New Orleans and the Downtown Development District have pledged $1 million each — for a total of $2 million — toward its creation, Cantrell told the Faubourg Avart Neighborhood Association in their spring meeting Wednesday evening. City officials are negotiating with a property owner for a temporary location for the shelter, but Cantrell said she could not disclose it until those conversations are complete, though it could be operational by October. The low-barrier shelter would provide homeless people with a place to sleep outdoors with protection from the weather, Cantrell said. Representatives of city housing and health services would be available for those homeless people who want them, but they would not be forced on people who for their own reasons are not ready, Cantrell said.

Owner of collapsed apartments on Amelia plans affordable housing there, councilwoman says

The church pastor who owned an apartment building that dramatically collapsed on Amelia Street is seeking federal money to rebuild more affordable housing on the site, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told neighbors on Tuesday evening. After years of complaints from neighbors about its blighted condition and allegations of illegal activity by squatters in the former apartments at 1900 Amelia, the building suddenly collapsed in April 2015. The fate of the site remained uncertain, but the Rev. Charles Southall III of the First Emanuel Baptist Church in Central City has filed an application with the Louisiana Housing Corp. for money to rebuild affordable housing on the site, Cantrell said at a joint meeting Tuesday night of the Delachaise Neighborhood Association and Milan Focus Group at their new location, Martin Wine Cellar. Technically, the long period of disuse has cost the site its multi-family zoning, Cantrell said, and it has reverted to the same two-family residential classification of the surrounding neighborhood.