‘I didn’t pick a side’: Mayor Cantrell doubles down, defending appearance in juvenile court and travel expenses
“I pick no sides. Me showing up to support a young person that did what he was required to do, meaning by the judge, that’s not picking a side. That’s supporting a young person that has made decisions that puts him on a better pathway,” Mayor Cantrell said.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mayor LaToya Cantrell defended her spending on overseas travel and her appearance in juvenile court last week in support of a young man found guilty of armed robbery in a press conference Wednesday.
For almost 30 minutes, Mayor Cantrell answered questions from the press, doubling down her defenses as both local and national criticism mounts.
“It is my job. I will continue to do my job. It was absolutely worth it,” when asked about her June trip to the French Riviera to sign a sister city agreement.
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.
“You’re talking about France, from which we’ve come, meaning a part of the fabric of the City of New Orleans. You’re talking about France that has an ambassador living in the City of New Orleans. You’re talking about France that has supported a full time position on resiliency for the City of New Orleans because we’re on the front lines of climate change,” Cantrell said. “You’re talking about France that has artists in residence right here in the City of New Orleans, over four of them. You’re talking about France that is embedded in the fabric of the history of this city, will continue to be. So me nurturing that relationship is a responsibility that I have as Mayor of the City of New Orleans.
“I do travel business class, absolutely, I need to be protected, I need to be safe as I do business on behalf of the City of New Orleans.”
The Mayor said international travel is down from pre-pandemic levels, making the trips even more necessary to encourage international residents to come to the Crescent City.
“I would advise you to speak to the culture community directly and find out how it has impacted their quality of life, but also their bottom line,” Cantrell stated.
Cantrell was also asked about her appearance in juvenile court last week to support a young man found guilty of robbing multiple women during different carjacking incidents. The Mayor said the juvenile was ordered by the judge to go through the Pathways Program, which he completed.
“I pick no sides. Me showing up to support a young person that did what he was required to do, meaning by the judge, that’s not picking a side. That’s supporting a young person that has made decisions that puts him on a better pathway. That’s what I did,” she said. “That was my way of supporting the young person that was required to participate in a program that the City of New Orleans had created and is funding.”
According to the victims, Mayor Cantrell sat next to the mother of the juvenile, comforting her. When she stood up to leave, the victims said, she only mouthed “God bless you” to them while walking out.
“I did not want to leave and just walk out without not only showing care, meaning, cause I stopped. I did say ‘God bless you’ cause that means something to me, maybe not to you, but it means something to me,” she said. “Do not discount a ‘God bless you,’ because for me, I’m very spiritual, I walk in faith, and I believe when I say ‘God bless you,’ I’m even reciting, even a Hail Mary, you have no idea what’s going on in that connection.”
Cantrell said she could not reach the victims because she does not receive their contact information, although she does receive the contact information of the criminals’ families.
“I am over a juvenile correctional facility, and I get that information directly,” Cantrell said. “As it relates to victims, as you know, that goes directly to the DA’s office, and in support, in terms of programs by the city.”
“I know for a fact she could have gotten my number directly from my mother. My mother has a personal relationship with her, and my mother has worked with her before because my mother works in the nonprofit world,” said Stephanie Uddo, one of the victims. “When my mother emailed her on my behalf explaining her disappointment of the situation, my mother left her personal cell phone for LaToya to give her a phone call. So there’s no way that LaToya couldn’t have gotten my number to reach out and show some sort of remorse or discussion for what she did.”
Cantrell said she would be open to receiving a list of crime victims in the future so she can reach out.
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