NEW ORLEANS — A defiant Mayor LaToya Cantrell pushed back against shots her city and her administration have taken in recent weeks on myriad topics following a construction update news conference Tuesday.
Cantrell said she disagreed with New Orleans being labeled as the Murder Capital of the World though she did not say what about the numbers that resulted in that label were incorrect.
“I do not embrace that at all,” said Cantrell when asked directly about recent national and local news articles on the topic. “(It) isn’t based on what’s happening on the ground. We have experienced an uptick in crime.”
Cantrell went on to emphasize that most crimes were not random, but the result of disputes between people who know one another, extended family members and mental health issues along with people settling disputes with guns.
Watch Wounded City: A look at New Orleans crime problem - Wednesday night at 6 pm on WWL-TV
While various reporting entities can show varying statistics, most show the city of New Orleans at the top of the list for per capita homicides in 2022 so far. As of last week, there had been 208 homicides here so far this year. That’s a 44 percent increase over the same time last year.
Cantrell also defended her administration’s work on roads. She acknowledged the frustration of the public, but said that less than one percent of the work had been done when she entered office. She added that the backlog is causing issues, but said that money was being spent and that she was encouraged that extensions would be granted.
As for trash pickup, Cantrell said that she “couldn’t wait” for the new vendors to take over on Nov.7 and said that staffing issues remain a problem for current contractors Metro and Richards.
She also said some council members were moving into “dangerous” territory when talking about possibly docking her pay for an estimated $30,000 in additional travel expenses incurred because she upgraded flights and other travel above the city’s official policy.
“It gets pretty dangerous when you’re talking about someone’s revenue or wages they get from doing their job,” she said. “As it relates to the travel expense, nothing aligned with being luxury at all, but aligned with my health and well-being.”
Cantrell briefly said that her travel practices were now reverting to what they were pre-COVID, though she didn’t elaborate as to what that means or if she was implying that her travel choices were made over concern about COVID.
She also said that her travels brought the city back much more in revenue than they cost.
“While I know you (the media) is focused on the 30 ($30,000), which I don’t agree with that amount… when you think about the return on investment – hundreds of millions of dollars that we’re now talking about because that is real – that justifies the work being done.”