This week’s drama that pitted Mayor LaToya Cantrell against City Council President Helena Moreno and the majority of council members is just another example of the deep rift between the two branches of city government. Don’t expect it to heal anytime soon.
The council was quick to call out Cantrell for her handling of Housing Authority of New Orleans board member Sharon Jasper, a long-time tenant advocate who Cantrell wanted to replace. State law requires that the appointing authority provide clear reasons for dismissal. Cantrell initially provided no reasons and then gave only lip service to the law.
Jasper grew up in public housing and has long understood the predicament of tenants who are forced to live in substandard properties. Jasper has been their hero in front of HANO’s board. She also encourages tenants to attend HANO’s meetings, which has led to numerous contentious moments. HANO’s management would, of course, prefer meetings that quickly move the agenda without public pushback.
When Mayor Cantrell determined that she would have HANO present the administration’s case, Moreno refused to allow them to speak. In the end, the council reinstated Jasper by a 5-0 vote, saying the administration did not present an adequate case against Jasper.
Councilman Oliver Thomas, Cantrell’s strongest supporter on the council, left before the vote, citing another meeting to attend. Councilman Freddie King did not attend the meeting.
Look for the council to watch Cantrell like a hawk on every major issue. There won’t be a spirit of cooperation going forward. If the recall campaign does not succeed, the next few years will be tough indeed.
EARLY VOTING CONTINUES THROUGH SATURDAY
Registered voters have until Saturday (Dec. 3) to cast early ballots for the District 3 Public Service Commissioner and three constitutional amendments. The election is Dec. 10.
Incumbent Lambert Boissiere III was endorsed this week by fifth-place finisher Jesse Thompson. Davante Lewis picked up third-place finisher Rev. Gregory Manning. Though supporters of both candidates and their donors are deeply committed to voting in this election, apathy will keep many voters away from the polls.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.</em