A defiant New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell insisted she had to fly first class on recent taxpayer-funded junkets to France and Switzerland because economy class is not safe for a black woman and because she has a child.
The Democrat mayor made the shocking claim at a news conference Thursday where she was asked if she would reimburse the city for $30,000 spent to fly in luxury. Cantrell vowed not to repay Big Easy taxpayers despite a city policy that would seem to require her to.
“My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury,” Cantrell said. “As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone.”
Then Cantrell, who had her entourage fly coach, played the mom card.
“As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be,” she continued. “Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”
At yesterday’s press conference, @FOX8NOLA was the only station that asked Mayor LaToya Cantrell about whether or not she will reimburse thousands of dollars to the city for her travel upgrades.
Here’s her full statement: pic.twitter.com/swA2flFIkc
— Andrés Fuentes (@news_fuentes) September 9, 2022
Cantrell flew from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Switzerland in July, spending approximately $10,000, according to The Daily Mail. In August, Cantrell went on a $43,000 mission to France, where she signed a symbolic partnership agreement with a small city on the Mediterranean Sea. Cantrell’s airfare alone cost $18,000, according to NOLA.com.
The New Orleans City Council voted in August to limit travel expenses, and the city has had a longstanding policy directing employees to cover the price difference for upgrades from coach, according to the site. But Cantrell insists the law does not apply to her.
“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans,” she told reporters. “One thing is clear; I do my job and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way.
“When you look at the mayor and the budget I have for travel that I have is pennies on a dollar to a $1.4 billion organization that I lead,” Cantrell said.
The city’s law department is reportedly trying to determine if Cantrell must be required to reimburse the funds spent to upgrade her flight accommodations.
It’s not just for international flights that Cantrell insists on going first class. In January, she spent more than $2,300 on a ticket to a Conference of Mayors’ meeting in Washington, while staffers’ coach tickets cost just $250, according to the Daily Mail. In March, Cantrell flew to Miami for a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, spending $2,800 on a first-class ticket, or roughly nine times the cost of coach, according to 4WWL.
Last month, residents launched a recall effort against Cantrell, citing the expensive trips, as well as the city’s soaring crime rate. In particular, residents were outraged when Cantrell appeared in court on behalf of a 13-year-old carjacker who was being sentenced.