Scoot: Mayor Cantrell uses child safety to hide a money grab!

April 22, 2019 - 11:36 am

When a politician insists something is true even though it is not true, trust in government is lost; and the concept of transparency becomes murky.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s insistence that her decision to reduce the threshold for writing speeding tickets to motorists in school zones was motivated only by concern for the safety of the children and not by the sudden revenue that would suddenly pour into the city coffers. Mayor Cantrell was quoted in an April 18, 2019 article in The Advocate saying, “This wasn’t, and absolutely is not, a money grab.” The Mayor added that “This is about our children…They deserve to be protected at every level, and I’m going to do that.” But considering how this reduction in the speed for which tickets would be generated evolved, it appears to be a money grab and the Mayor hiding behind the idea that her decision is about “the children.”

No one should argue that motorists should be allowed to speed through a school zone. The posted speed limit is 20 mph; but the City, which has the discretion to determine the speed at which tickets will be issues, had set a precedent of allowing motorists to travel up to 8 mph over the posted 20 mph speed limit in school zones and 10 mph over the speed limit outside of those zones.

Without any warning to the public, Mayor Cantrell secretly lowered the threshold to 4 mph over the speed limit in school zones and 8 mph over the speed limit elsewhere. In addition to motorists, the City Council expressed deep concern that she had secretly lowered the speed for generating tickets.

It has been learned that there were definite discussions about warning the public of the new rule for speed zones, and it is understood that Mayor Cantrell rejected any suggestion that the public or the City Council be warned ahead of her decision. On my talk show on WWL, calls and texts poured in about the unfair practice of the Mayor changing the rules for issuing tickets without any public notice.

Mayor Cantrell followed through on a campaign promise to remove or turn off many of the traffic cameras in the city. In doing so, Cantrell caused the City of New Orleans to lose a significant revenue source. Reducing the speed for generating tickets in school zones and elsewhere is predicted to bring in $7.5 million a year in new revenue, and that would more than make up for the revenue lost by the decision to remove or turn off other traffic cameras around the city.

Mayor Cantrell’s decision to reduce the speed for ticketing motorists looks like an obvious money grab and the Mayor’s insistence that her decision is all about safety for the children is bogus and an insult to the intelligence of the motorists that would suddenly be affected.

Here is the real transparency on this issue - Mayor Cantrell made a decision that cost the city significant revenue secretly lowered the speed limit for issuing tickets without notifying the public. Her claim is that this is all about safety for the children. The assumption is that by lowering the speed for writing tickets the school zones become a safer zone for children because the ultimate goal is to encourage people to slow down.

According to Mayor Cantrell, the real goal is to make school zones safer for the children, but that argument is flawed. If the Mayor’s motivation really was to make school zones safer, then a public warning of the new rule should have caused an exponentially greater number of motorists to immediately slow down than the actual number that was punished by the reduction in acceptable speed in a school zone.

Over time, word spread that there was a new rule in effect and motorists were then slowly conditioned to slow down and respect the new reduced threshold. But had the Mayor announced to the public that the new reduced speed limit was being implemented, I suggest that a much great number of motorists would have slowed down from day 1.

Mayor Cantrell should not be allowed to hide behind the farce of making school zones safer. Her decision was a money grab! Most disheartening is the idea that Cantrell campaigned on a promise of transparency, but there was no transparency with her decision to change the acceptable speed driven in school zones.

Further giving rise to the perception the new administration is not transparent, Mayor Cantrell secretly went on a trip to Cuba in the name of benefiting New Orleans. Word of the trip did not come out until the it was already underway.

Let’s hope things change - but right now - Mayor Cantrell has been caught in two obvious situations where transparency was missing. It is further worthy noting that Cantrell’s continued insistency that her decision to reduce the acceptable speed in school zones was for the sake of the children is nothing more than her use of children to hide a true money grab.

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