NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she does not plan to reimburse the city for first-class travel upgrades on overseas flights, despite policies put in place. place by the city council.
The policy states that all traveling city employees are required to seek the lowest rates available or reimburse the city for luxury accommodations.
The chief executive said the legal department is still considering whether or not the mayor should repay nearly $30,000 in taxpayer money.
At a press conference on Thursday (Sept. 8), Mayor Cantrell said the trips and expenses were made to improve New Orleans.
“Any expenses incurred in doing business on behalf of the City of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the City of New Orleans,” Mayor Cantrell said outside the Nix Library. “One thing is clear; I do my job and will continue to do so with distinction and integrity every step of the way.
Robert Collins, professor of public policy at Dillard University, says it appears the mayor is provocative.
The mayor’s staff says they are working to determine if the policy applies to the mayor, as she is an elected official and not a hired employee of the city.
“I think it’s still being studied with some kind of law to determine the variations between the CAO policy, the elected officials policy and the different variations,” CAO Gilbert Montaño said. “There is no ultimate conclusion at this time. Right now it’s in the law, and we’re evaluating it and I think there would be a decision as soon as possible. »
The mayor’s first-class tickets to France and Switzerland cost the city nearly $30,000. Cantrell has previously said his travel upgrades were not for luxury purposes but for safety concerns.
“Anyone who wants to wonder how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world that black women walk around in,” Mayor Cantrell said in a statement.
However, Collins says that since the mayor receives salary and benefits from New Orleans, she should be considered an employee.
“It’s a bit like saying that the President of the United States is not a federal government employee. He gets paid, of course he is,” Collins said. “That’s like saying the governor of Louisiana is not an employee of the state government. Of course he is. He is the CEO of the state government. So to claim that there is some kind of legal difference between an elected official who receives a salary from a government agency and an employee of that government agency, I think is problematic.
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