LaToya Cantrell

Newell: Criticism isn't bullying - if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen!

Newell Normand
May 11, 2020 - 3:05 pm


A conflict erupted last week between Stephen Perry, CEO of New Orleans and Company, the city’s premier tourism industry organization, and Mayor Cantrell’s office. One of my takeaways from that flap was simply this - I didn’t know that ‘criticism’ is synonymous with ‘bullying.’ That seems to be Mayor Cantrell’s approach. She keeps talking about how her decisions are driven by public health concerns, not by dollars, and how she will not be bullied. 

People can agree to disagree all the time - but it seems like the Mayor is not able to take criticism. She refuses to come on my show because she didn’t like some things that I asked her while we were here in the studio. We have a standing invitation that we send to her every week by letter, asking her to come on the show because people enjoy having their leaders face tough questioning.

When you’re a leader, you can’t duck tough questions. I never did! As Sheriff, I didn't always take criticism lightly - but I never once characterized it as being bullied. I say, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!

Consider the following. What forward-leaning, credible business leader will engage in an open and transparent conversation with the Mayor, if at some time in that discussion about pressing matters, they are subjected to leaked private text messages? It seems to me we’ve let short-term thinking get in the way of long-term thinking.

The tourism industry, whether we like it or not, is the most prominent industry in the metro area. It would seem to me that one would reach out to leaders in that industry in order to solicit advice and guidance. The building of collaboration and cooperation doesn't mean you’re going to agree on every issue. Not at all!

Sometimes we characterize someone as ‘unhinged’ when they use expletives. But I daresay, I don't think anyone can say that they’ve never ‘lost it’ at some point in time. That's what passion is all about. The Mayor was elected in large part for her passion for the issues, but she can’t be the only one who gets to exhibit it. It’s a two-way street. Maybe if we looked at ourselves critically in the mirror, maybe if we put ourselves in other’s shoes to understand their desire, we might be better served for it. 

If we continue down this path, we might as well play “Send in the Clowns” for the city, because forward-leaning, credible leaders in this community will have no desire to participate. These are battles both fought behind closed doors, and both the Mayor and Stephen Perry know it. 


Comments ()