It is still hard to believe that LaToya Cantrell is the Mayor of New Orleans. This California native adopted New Orleans but knows next to nothing about the city, our history, our culture, and our traditions, such as Mardi Gras.
She was elected despite issues about credit card charges while she was a council member. After her election, it was reported that she owed over $90,000 to the IRS. Along with alleged financial irregularities, the Mayor’s major problems are her policies. She spent months dithering on an action plan to demolish the Hard Rock Hotel. Incredibly, 16 months after the hotel partially collapsed, it has still not been fully demolished.
Mayor Cantrell is a very progressive Democrat, educated by the “Ivory Tower” intellectuals at the Aspen Institute. It is no surprise that she supports the renaming of streets throughout New Orleans. Regardless of this inconvenience for residents living on those streets or the blatant attack on the history of a 303-year-old city, Cantrell advocates policies that are popular with the “woke” liberal elite.
In the most important priority for any Mayor, public safety, Cantrell has been a stunning failure. In 2020, the citizens of New Orleans endured a 66% increase from the previous year in murder, armed robbery, and other violent crimes. Unfortunately, 2021 is turning out to be even worse. In just the last month, there have been 40 shootings and an increase in carjackings throughout the city.
Instead of focusing on public safety, the Mayor has been working on a different type of safety, involving Covid-19. The Mayor wants the citizens of New Orleans to be “safe” from the virus. Thus, she has instituted stringent rules and regulations. Currently, masks and social distancing are mandatory, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and indoor gatherings are limited to just 10 people.
An untold number of businesses have been shuttered, never to open up again. The economy of New Orleans is on life support. The major industries in the city, tourism, and hospitality, are in crisis. Instead of adopting an action plan to move toward reopening, the Mayor has been busy on her latest crusade.
Her new focus is to make Mardi Gras disappear. The people of New Orleans are truly living in the Twilight Zone.
Several months ago, the Mayor cancelled all of the city’s parades, dampening the hopes of local residents and tourists from around the world. This is the first cancellation of Mardi Gras in New Orleans since a strike among police officers in 1979.
Normally, one million people visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras. This year, the hotels are facing an occupancy rate of only 30%, which is the lowest in Mardi Gras history.
The Mayor is not satisfied with just canceling all of the parades. She decided that too many people have been partying on Bourbon Street, so she decided to increase the magnitude of her orders. All bars in New Orleans will be closed on the Friday before Mardi Gras. The closures will last for five days, through Mardi Gras.
Prior to this new order, the Cantrell administration had already shuttered seven bars for not following the Mayor’s social distancing policies. Other bars are closed and will never reopen.
The economy is so poor that some bar owners have resorted to operating as a speakeasy. They are doing anything they can to survive economically in these exceedingly difficult days.
The new Mardi Gras directive is especially disturbing to those bar owners who have been able to stay open but are already struggling. According to Scott Wood of Courtyard Brewery, he has been forced to close at least seven times over the past year. He blames the Cantrell administration for their poor planning. Wood fumed that “The city had known Mardi Gras was going to be a problem for months and had no clear plan disseminated. For them to spring this on us a week out, while Mardi Gras festivities are already in swing, is unfortunate and frustrating.”
The Mayor also ordered barricades constructed around North Claiborne Avenue and on both ends of Bourbon Street. For a five-day period starting Friday morning at 6 a.m., only residents, and restaurant employees and diners will be allowed into the French Quarter. To discourage any excessive celebrations and large crowds, there will be an extremely large police presence in the French Quarter.
Prior to the pandemic, New Orleans was one of the tourist hotspots in the nation. Today, economic activity is non-existent, Mardi Gras is canceled, but violent crime is almost everywhere.
The Mayor’s answer is to retain strict Covid-19 lockdowns to keep the community “safe.” The Mayor needs to realize that a community cannot survive on just Covid-19 mandates and federal government bailouts. There must be a thriving private sector, but, unfortunately, in New Orleans, it is under constant attack, so its future in the city is uncertain at best.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs nationally on Real America’s Voice Network, AmericasVoice.News weekdays at 7 a.m. CT and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at [email protected]