NEW ORLEANS – The city says about $2.1 million was spent to remove the three Confederate monuments in May and the Battle of Liberty Place monument in April, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration had not anticipated.
The amount, released Friday afternoon, includes security and logistics for the removal of all four monuments plus protests at the various monuments leading up to their removal.
The city said $1.04 million of the monument-removal costs came from budgeted city funds, with $1.07 million coming from private donations through the Foundation for Louisiana, which is keeping the names of donors secret.
Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni said "racial extremists" forced the city to spend $710,000 on a safety and intelligence contractor named Trident Response Group. Invoices show that Trident, a Dallas-based company, provided advice developing operational plans with consultants charging up to $425 an hour.
Trident also provided two security advisers, listed on invoices only as "Bob" and "Gary," at $275 and $250 per hour, respectively. About a half dozen other security analysts monitored threats on social media and other sources as known white supremacy groups and opposing Antifas encouraged online followers to amass in New Orleans, Berni said.
The city used something known as the "Best Interests of the City" provision of the Home Rule Charter to get around rules for professional services contracts and hire Trident without any competitive "request for proposal" or RFP process.
"Due to the critical aspect of the services and the documented risks associated with the relocation project, the standard request for proposal process ... could compromise the timing of the relocation project and could result in additional risk and threats of violence," the Landrieu administration wrote in a memo dated May 1.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu had said there would be no city funds used the remove the Liberty Place monument and statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis.
Berni emphasized no city funds were used on actual removal work, only logistics, security and storage. For example, the city was forced to spend about $52,000 building a shed for the monuments -- and another $12,000 in security there -- after they were moved to a storage yard because of attempts to vandalize them when they were left outside, Berni said.
Documents released Friday show city funds also covered the cost of paying overtime and regular pay to city workers from the Police Department, Fire Department, EMS, Equipment Management, Sewerage and Water Board and Parks and Parkways.
After WWL-TV reported earlier this week that the city spent $173,000 deploying 221 NOPD officers to the three Confederate leaders' statues, the full amount paid for all four removals and the protests was released Friday. The total NOPD cost was nearly $220,000. Fire Department personnel were paid $20,000 and EMS employees made about $5,500 to be stationed at the monuments.
The Regional Transit Authority also spent about $7,500 to remove and reinstall overhead streetcar lines at Lee Circle to clear the way for the especially challenging removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.
Berni said this was supposed to be a basic capital project until contractors received threats and protesters came to the city from across the country.
“There were no critical projects that were canceled. No money that goes to streetlights or potholes are being canceled. This is literally the cost of dealing with racial extremists, is that we had to spend some money on homeland security consulting, from a part of the budget that otherwise would have gone to other kinds of consulting,” Berni said. “And it's really, for not having a major, critical incident out at those scenes, well worth it.”
Contractor Cuzan Services will be paid $600,000 from private donations through the Foundation for Louisiana for the actual removal of the Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee statutes. The city informed Cuzan that it would not pay an overrun of about $150,000 the company requested because the work was completed within the prescribed time of Cuzan's contract.
The Lee removal cost private donors $300,000, while the Davis and Beauregard removal work cost $150,000 each.
WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate have been asking for a copy of Cuzan's bid documents and contract for weeks. Berni said those documents were not posted to the city's contract and bid website until Friday.
Meanwhile, the Liberty Place monument, erected to celebrate a bloody uprising by white supremacists against the city's integrated Reconstruction Era police force, cost $65,000 to remove, the city said. But the name of the contractor was blacked out on invoices. Berni said the contractor's identity is being kept secret for security reasons and because it was paid entirely by private donations.
The city said this is the final and complete accounting of how much the monument removal operations cost.
"We want this full accounting to be closure on this process and turn the city's attention to what goes in their place and where the monuments go in the future," Berni said.
City Councilwoman Stacy Head, the chair of the Budget Committee and the only member of the council to vote against removing the monuments, told WWL-TV two weeks ago that she wanted to see the full accounting because city money was being spent differently than the council had approved in the budget process.
Her office said she did not receive a copy of the documentation until Friday, after the packet was released to the media, and would need time to study it.
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