Mayor Cantrell spent $40k for four days in French Riviera to sign ‘sister cities’ agreement, records show
Her office says the taxpayer money was used to foster and preserve New Orleans culture, but critics say it’s a distraction from her work here at home.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and three of her top aides were in France for four days back in June and spent more than $40,000 on the trip, according to records obtained by FOX 8.
The mayor’s first-class flight cost almost $18,000.
Records show she flew first class and business class, spending a total of $19,654 for the trip. Her aides spend less than $10,000 each for the four days in France.
Each total includes airfare, lodging and a per diem of $394.62.
The purpose of the trip was to sign a “sister city” agreement with Antibes, a resort town on the French Riviera and home to one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe since 1960.
Dillard University professor Dr. Robert Collins said the taxpayers deserve an explanation from Mayor Cantrell.
“I think the perception that the voters have, whether it’s fair or unfair, is that she’s out of touch and that she’s more interested with activities outside of the city of New Orleans than within the city of New Orleans,” said Dr. Collins. “What does the city get from that sister-city agreement? Is it just symbolic? Are there some trade negotiations that went on, are we gonna get some import or export deals?”
About a week after she returned from France, Mayor Cantrell traveled to Switzerland for another signing of a “sister city” agreement. Her flight there cost just over $9,800, and she spent more than $11,000 for the six days in Ascona, Switzerland.
She traveled with at least two others and spent over $16,000 in taxpayer money for the trip.
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“If you’re spending taxpayer money, the taxpayers are owed a specific explanation as to what concrete, quantifiable benefits they’re gonna get in return for that travel,” said Collins.
In July, Mayor Cantrell canceled her trip to Singapore where she was scheduled to attend a climate change conference. Records for that trip show nearly $45,000 in taxpayer money was used for flight expenses for the mayor and her team. Her round-trip business class ticket cost more than $14,000. The others flew economy. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office says a credit will be issued for future trips due to the cancelation.
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