It’s Imperative That Somebody Run Against LaToya Cantrell

It isn’t even required that somebody who doesn’t suck run against her. Mild suckage would be a colossal improvement. Another term of this smash-and-grab artist setting fire to what remains of the Big Easy would surely finish the place off. But so far, it looks as if Cantrell is going to run unopposed.

How that could possibly be is a question for the ages.

Everybody knows about Cantrell’s tax issues. You could make the argument that LaToya Cantrell owing a big pile of cash to the federal government is bad optics but it’s not a particular disqualification for her current job – we don’t have a lot of use for that argument, but you could make it.

But it looks like something else is going on, and if the dots connect up like it appears, Cantrell’s second term could be spent under federal indictment.

First of all, there’s Irvin Mayfield, the jazz trumpet player who was named the head of the city’s library foundation and who proceeded to ransack its bank account for $1.3 million worth of swag.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana (EDLA) announced that IRVIN MAYFIELD,age 43, a resident of New Orleans, and RONALD MARKHAM, age 42, also a resident of New Orleans, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the New Orleans Public Library Foundation out of approximately $1,316,232. Sentencing is currently set for February 9, 2020 before the Honorable Jay C. Zainey.

According to court documents, MAYFIELD founded the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) in 2002. MAYFIELD also acted as Artistic Director and featured performer. MARKHAM was a long-time friend of MAYFIELD and served as NOJO’s President and Chief Executive Officer. MAYFIELD and MARKHAM both received salaries of $100,000 from NOJO as well as compensation for compositions and performances through Mayfield Publishing Company. Throughout its existence, NOJO relied on donations to fund its operations and pay its expenses. Between December 16, 2008, until May 31, 2010, NOJO relied on grants from the Edward Wisner Donation, a charitable trust administered by the City of New Orleans. In February 2011, support for NOJO through the Edward Wisner Donation was terminated by the City of New Orleans, causing great financial distress to NOJO and its ability to pay expenses.

In October 1990, the New Orleans Public Library Foundation (NOPLF) was established to receive donations generated through private fund raising efforts; to oversee the prudent investment of said donations at an acceptable level of risk; and to authorize expenditures judiciously for the purpose of purchasing books, other information materials, and sponsoring New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) related programs. For these purposes, NOPLF maintained an investment account. Until approximately August 2011, the NOPLF used interest earned from its investment account to fund its mission at the direction of the board of directors. All board members were uncompensated volunteers.

In August 2006, MAYFIELD became a board member of NOPLF. He later became Chairman of the board in November 2010. During his time on the NOPLF board, MAYFIELD also maintained his position with NOJO. In December 2009, MARKHAM became a board member of NOPLF. He later became Chairman of the board in September 2013 upon MAYFIELD’s resignation as Chairman of NOPLF. During his time on the NOPLF board, MARKHAM also maintained his position with NOJO. Between August 23, 2011, and November 30, 2013, MAYFIELD and MARKHAM caused approximately $1,316,232 to be unlawfully transferred and paid directly from the NOPLF to NOJO and elsewhere.

Beginning in February 2011, and continuing until November 2017, the defendants committed mail and wire fraud by transferring $1,316,232 from the NOPLF investment account to NOJO and elsewhere without approval and while misleading the NOPLF and others with regard to the purpose of the transfers. The defendants sent materially false and misleading correspondence to NOPLF board members, investment account managers, and auditors regarding the purpose of the money transfers.

That was from last year, when Mayfield and Markham pled guilty to the theft. They’re now trying to pay restitution and stay out of jail.

But then something interesting happened a couple of days ago…

That video of Cantrell telling people to “support” Mayfield went up on Facebook and shortly went viral around the city, with jaws dropping everywhere.

And then this happened…

So Cantrell is at the Magnolia Mansion publicly embracing Mayfield, and then the FBI raids the place.

Fouad Zeton, who owns the building but says he doesn’t operate it anymore, swears it has nothing to do with him. Maybe he’s right, though he’s well known as a big Cantrell booster, especially since he made an ass of himself at her victory party with the championship belt he tried to put around her, and that would lend the impression he’s involved in some way.

With what, though?

Who can say? The FBI says there’s some sort of fraud investigation going on, and this would be something beyond Mayfield and Markham’s library heist.

Who runs the hotel now? Zeton says he leased it to Cydney Hedgpeth, who is an actress, model and a musician by trade, and who according to Zeton is Mayfield’s wife.

Which would explain his regular gig playing at the Magnolia Mansion these days.

Is LaToya Cantrell just stupid for continuing to embrace Mayfield? Or is there more to all this where she’s concerned?

Lord knows those are the kinds of questions somebody who was running against her might like to put out there. Except nobody is running against her. Which is crazy.

It isn’t like LaToya Cantrell is doing what anybody would call a “good” job running the city of New Orleans. Carjackings have become a routine occurrence around the city, as has the sound of gunfire on a nightly basis. The economy in New Orleans is moribund; if it weren’t for out-of-towners fleeing even worse cities out west and up north who are buying up real estate in the city, there would be nothing left.

And she’s killed the tourist trade with COVID restrictions which only recently were loosened.

Now you see that she’s intentionally connected herself to Mayfield while the FBI is nosing around the hotel he seems to be the shadow operator of, it’s hard not to believe she’s getting a cut of that scam as well.

Are the people of Orleans Parish really just going to acquiesce in all this?

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