UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Cantrell sent the following statement on Friday following two requests for comment and after this story posted:
“Mayor Cantrell has not changed her position. We have to evaluate the different options and timelines for removal. The funding of the cameras was included in the 2018 budget. The removal will be part of the 2019 budget discussions. Right now, we are assessing the fiscal impact in order to move responsibly and in the most effective way.”
The alleged same position claimed in this statement is still a change from her position to suspend the program while evaluating it.
ORIGINAL: LaToya Cantrell has been in office a few days, and already shown her tendency to habitually flip-flop.
The most glaring example to date is the city’s traffic camera program. Cantrell campaigned against the use of traffic cameras that ticket drivers, an extremely unpopular program that has been widely criticized as a money-grab. Candidate Cantrell vocalized her opposition on multiple occasions.
“They definitely should go,” Cantrell said during a WWL TV debate.
“We don’t know if traffic cameras are making our streets safer,” Cantrell said on July 18th as reported by NOLA.
“As your mayor, I will suspend the use of the cameras until it can be proven that they actually work as intended,” Cantrell was reported saying in July by both The Advocate and NOLA.
The anti-traffic camera position she took on the campaign trail resounded with people across the city. The cameras and their pricey tickets, which have had issues including the alleged NOPD oversight not noticing the ticketing of parked cars, fall into a populist issue, one for the people. But after six months as Mayor-Elect, Cantrell’s team reversed course days before she took office.
In Cantrell’s Transition Report released Thursday, May 3rd, her Government Operations Committee recommended keeping the traffic cameras. The official recommendation is to “dedicate revenue from traffic safety cameras in school zones to public safety goals.”
The suggestion immediately popped out among the 137 page document. WWL TV reported on it and received a comment from a Cantrell spokesman.
“The Mayor-elect has not changed her position on the traffic camera question. The reference included in the Transition Report is one recommendation among many, which the Mayor-elect and her team will take under advisement to help shape policy going forward.”
The Hayride requested a simple yes or no from the Mayor, her City communications team, and her campaign as to whether the traffic camera program would be suspended. That was Tuesday, May 8th. No response yet.
Like the Traffic Cameras catching speeders and drivers trying to get across the neutral ground on a yellow, the media caught LaToya Cantrell. The perennial flip flopper often caves as evidenced by the monuments vote and Warren Riley. Her initial decisions seem to be her gut decisions, and the flip flop often a cave to pressure.
In the traffic camera instance, LaToya The Destroya appears to be using her Transition Team as the scape goat. But a decision has yet to be made. And in fairness, Cantrell has already shown that she does a better job of playing with others, not dictating like her predecessor Mitch Landrieu.
The camera program is reported to generate $24 million per year, and the political leaches are attached now. What may be the saddest part is that, if removed, the public officials want to fill the gap instead of tightening their belts and working thinner. Councilman Jason Williams doesn’t want to suspend the program, but said, “I’m willing to take a look at it if that’s what the people want.” Hint hint, let Mr. Williams ([email protected]) and Mayor Cantrell ([email protected]) know “the people” (taxpayers who fund their jobs) want the cameras off.
If Cantrell actually suspended the traffic cameras, don’t be surprised when some new tax or tax increase pops up. These politicians are like junkies, they need your money to get their fix.
How much is the fine for running through a campaign promise on traffic cameras? It should be hefty. Fear not, the taxpayers will undoubetdly cover Cantrell on it. But the new mayor needs to know The People are keeping score and holding her accountable.