Cantrell claims progress, while Dubos sees little to judge yet

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
August 17, 2018 - 9:20 pm
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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has released a list of what she calls acheivements and progress during her first three months in office.

While political analyst Clancy DuBos says it's hard to give Cantrell a grade for her first hundred days because there is not a lot to grade her on, Cantrell believes she is doing well.

"Those achievements include improvements to infrastructure, enhanced community engagement, establishment of executive leadership in key departments, and accountability," her office said in a news release.

DuBos says that Cantrell needs to communicate a game plan on how to address the Sewerage and Water Board issues or people could lose faith in the new mayor. 

The mayor's report does touch on the S&WB and specify other areas the administration lists as points of progress.

Here is what Cantrell's office issued:

Infrastructure

  • During the first 90 days of the Cantrell Administration, the City and Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) have greatly accelerated their spending of the nearly $2 billion in funds from the FEMA settlement for streets and sub-surface drainage. In fact, the spending of S&WB’s funds for infrastructure is double that than was spent during the entire period between the obligation of this settlement in July 2016 through the Mayor’s inauguration on May 7, 2018. Additionally, 25 percent of the total city streets funding that has been spent from this same settlement has been expended since May 7 alone.
  • Hired a new Executive Director for the Sewerage & Water Board – Ghassan Korban, former commissioner of Milwaukee's Department of Public Works, who will start in September.
  • Completed a series of capital projects, including reopened NORD facilities and libraries, and the first phase of the Brechtel Lagoon.

Housing

  • Issued a notice of funding to award $10 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (NHIF) funds for the development of affordable housing in the City of New Orleans.          

   

Public Safety

  • Established a Gun Violence Reduction Council that will serve as an advisory committee for the Mayor to develop innovative approaches to reduce gun violence, which accounts for 90 percent of murders each year in New Orleans.
  • Completed a comprehensive study of the use of traffic cameras to ensure that they maintain public safety and are used fairly and strategically throughout the city.
  • Increased fire-safety and awareness campaigns that have led to sharp increases in data collection and sharing, smoke-alarm system installation, fire-hydrant testing, commercial occupancy inspections, and public engagement.

City Operations

  • Initiated a search for a Chief Executive Officer for the New Orleans Recreation (NORD) Commission, as NORD has reopened the last two NORD facilities that had been closed since Hurricane Katrina, with renovations completed at other facilities.
  •     Established an Office of Transportation, followed by the appointment of its director, Laura Bryan, and two others to the Regional Transit Authority’s board of commissioners.
  •     Created a Procurement Office inside the Department of Finance to ensure more efficient, inclusive and transparent procedures for City contracting
  •     Set the framework for “Clean Up New Orleans,” a campaign that will launch in mid-September and will galvanize efforts in several departments, including Sanitation, Public Works, Parks and Parkways, and Code Enforcement to create a comprehensive clean-up effort throughout the city.

Inclusion

  • Established an Office of Youth and Families, headed by Emily Wolff, to address persistent issues related to health care, education and inclusion, and to strengthen the well-being of New Orleans' youth.
  • Set new leadership and doubled staff for the Human Relations Commission for the first time in two decades, with first steps including the reassignment of the Commission’s Advisory Board and the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Task Force to focus on challenges faced by communities of color as well as the transgender community.

 “At the beginning of this administration, I committed to the people of New Orleans that we would hit the ground running, with a City Hall that is intentional, accountable and transparent, and this overview shows that we are taking important first steps,” Mayor Cantrell said. “We are particularly proud of the way we have listened to our people and met them where they are, so that our solutions come from the ground up and not the top down. But we are mindful of the fact that we are literally only days into this work, and that we need to keep building momentum to address the serious challenges we face.

“We must continue our work to keep our people safe and healthy, to fix our broken infrastructure, address inequities, and to create and encourage economic opportunity that can help our people enjoy the quality of life they deserve,” Mayor Cantrell continued.

Much of the first quarter check-in, while revealing significant progress, also reveals much of the work done is the laying of groundwork that should yield more results at the next quarterly check-in toward the end of the year. Several “next steps” are noted in the department reports.

That said, Mayor Cantrell noted that perspective is needed as the City continues its work, which includes preparing a new budget for the next fiscal year. This budget will seek to efficiently and effectively expand City services where needed, streamline revenue collection, and continue oversight.

“As with any administration, we began our work knowing we would have advantages, and we would have our challenges. Now that we have a clearer grasp of the challenges we’ve inherited, we can put a sharper focus on how to address those challenges effectively and move this city forward," Mayor Cantrell continued.

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