The answer to the question, based on the interview Cantrell gave to Fox 8 New Orleans’ Rob Masson, is the latter. After all, “disaster” is the only characterization that fits for Cantrell’s performance in a year where the city of New Orleans is in such bad shape that the IRS filed a federal tax lien against the Sewerage & Water Board for collecting payroll taxes but failing to remit them to the federal government – in the same week that it was revealed that governmental body considered flushing raw sewage into the Mississippi River and there was an explosion in the French Quarter because methane had built up in the sewers. Not to mention hackers shut the city’s computer network down with ransomware, because there is zero chance of a less cybersecure place in North America than City Hall in New Orleans.
These are the kinds of things which happen in places like Port au Prince or Mazar-i-Sharif or Harare. Instead they’re happening in Louisiana’s most prominent city.
New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell is wrapping up a year, in which she dealt with major crises, including a cyber shutdown at City Hall and the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.
She didn’t cause the Hard Rock implosion. Pretty much the rest of the adversity that city has faced either comes from her lack of leadership as mayor or the ongoing stupidity of the city council she came from before failing up to her current job.
But she says 2019 was also filled with many achievements.
With a large majority of computers at City Hall shut down, by a ransomware attack, Cantrell reflects on a year filled with challenges.
“They started with the 9th floor Wednesday and working their way down,” said Cantrell.
Computer experts are now rebuilding city computers after a ransomware attack last week, with the city now saying a cyber insurance policy that may pay out $3 million dollars might not be enough.
It’s almost funny. No, it actually is funny. It’s so bad it’s hilarious.
The City Hall cyber-attack came in the midst of a flurry of major events in the year’s final weeks, including a mass shooting on Canal St., a turbine explosion at the water plant, and methane explosion in the French Quarter.
“We’re closing out a decade, and I told my staff pile on all you can. It sounds like that’s what’s happening around here,” she said.
That almost sounds like an admission she’s causing all this. It’s like in The Dark Knight Rises, when Bane and his henchmen take over Gotham and unleash all manner of hell on the city.
Looming over all the city’s challenges as we head into the New Year continues to be the hard rock hotel, and the mayor says the demolition plan now being worked out is the most respectful way to deal with this ongoing tragedy.
“The city did spend dollars, and we’ve taken every step necessary to make sure we recoup the dollars spent on this tragedy,” said Cantrell.
Because the primary concern is how many shekels the city of New Orleans has in its coffers. Got that. This is somebody who takes lessons in governance from Cuban communists, after all.
As Cantrell works out the details on a Hard Rock demolition plan, she looks back on a year that included political victories.
The city secured $50 million new dollars from the hospitality industry, for roads and pipes, and won key election victories for a new Airbnb tax, and $500 million in new infrastructure bonds. And she says the city’s murder rate will likely end the year, at another record low, some 20% below last year.
There you go with the achievements. She raked in more taxpayer dollars for the city.
Ask LaToya what the unemployment rate in Orleans Parish is. Ask here whether median income is up or down, and by how much. Ask her how many jobs were created in the city in 2019, or 2018 for that matter.
Go ahead. We’re sure she’d have those numbers top of mind. Right?
“It’s gonna be a decade to remember I tell you that,” said Cantrell.
The mayor says her administration is now spending a two billion dollar FEMA grant for roads, and infrastructure, at 8x the rate of the previous year.
This is an achievement? How fast you’re spending money? Sure, it’s a federal grant, but really?
As for the future of Hard Rock, she says it will take at least two months to stabilize the collapse site, before demolition can begin, sometime in March.
Awesome. Maybe the busted hulk of the Hard Rock can emerge as a Canal Street tourist attraction for folks coming in for the college football national championship game next month or Mardi Gras. That’d be awesome.
Cantrell has been mayor for two years and the number one thing she can point to is the murder rate going down. We haven’t checked the numbers lately but as we understand it the number of shootings isn’t off by all that much, which would indicate what’s really happening is that the Big Easy’s criminals are increasingly bad marksmen.
Things are so bad under her leadership of that city that crooks who can’t shoot straight may actually be her crowning achievement so far. And no, this level of incompetence isn’t going to get New Orleans out of its current malaise.