Mayor Cantrell talks trial by water

Newell Normand
Friday, May 25th
Mayor LaToya Cantrell joins Newell to talk about drainage, Youth Study Center and learning what problems that were inherited. 

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Join us in the studio is mayor LaToya can trial issue begins and puts together her administration and then now this is we hit three. We three. We seventeen days to count right. Everyday day seventy unit you know of the new administration and we work really wanna thank you are we even work with you guys to and your. Agree in the come on and spend an hour with this today and hopefully we'll be doing this in the future as well the talk about the the trials and tribulations of the challenges that we face here at the city the place that we call home. That you know we all wanna make a difference in and try and make it better. You could test that already the mother nature has said that and last hour leading up in your about we're about to all get tested together yet again. Absolutely and I think you you said the magic word in my opinion all get tested together we truly are in this. You know together and think your regionally reaching out. You know president union Jeffs impairs his reached out I have a call with the governor are after this. I'm looking and working with the National Guard and just. We're all in this thing together and it's the area important that we're working together. Well there's an upside and downside to downside vision of a note the risk as but the upside is your new administration and folks that that I can handle this in emergency preparedness and Homeland Security. They're going to be tested absolutely yet so they gonna get to see early on what what this is all about as as as of we ramp up and we're not even an hurricane season at. And can you kind of think about that is kind of kind of funny I do all askew and they're as close as you war and you've been involved in city government. They're always surprises when you come in and you know and I spent a number of years work apparently but when asked sat in that chair. It occurred to me. That perspective in the view. Was vastly different even though I just walked thirty steps down the hall what was your experience. Well you know really. Having me clear. Vision or being able to see the bottlenecks. Or the back law books and he. For example. Millions but actually into the billions of unspent money has released two. Hazard mitigation. And we talk about the risks that we have you know with with floodwater. And being tested that first couple weeks and I why aren't these things move. Why can't we get them done faster. And so I had to initiate projects. Week week one week to to get them out of the door simply because they work. In a bottle necks stuck. And also taking those deeper dives to. Get rid of the red tape you know. Going through the environmental process seized by the historic process c.s for some these projects taking up tonight when we need to spend this money. And down and so looking. Looking at it but not down. Trying to them back only to look forward what can we do in our administration to get results. Yeah because every day that is not done as an opportunity lost right right and if you look at it from the perspective you recognize that we're not reaping the benefits of these dollars when re reaping the benefits of the improvements. And therefore there are downstream applications that typically aren't positive. That's right that's right and so you know that's that's the real opportunity in all this my. And Massey attorneys say you know what I'm calling them now piles of the New York. I sit well you know the good thing is manure is it relax if it's just sit out we're looking added there's opportunities. Man so you know when you when you go through that process I mean have you all. Is set up like assessment teams and stuff for him in in and a task force to go after that is when you start to think about billions of dollars in I don't know how many number of projects and actually represents. I'm sure it's well over the hundreds. That's quite a task. It idiots but you know what just last Friday sitting down you know with FEMA. With with goals set with. State local all of us around a table. About 35 was actually going project in project in me asking. Me asking for help asking FEMA saying listen. I need. Several bodies in house in city government helping us get through this process so we do not lose. These dollars and what I found which I'm very excited about. He has just the willingness to give New Orleans what it takes give. My administration a chance an opportunity to get these projects done. Because of we don't spend the money we will lose it we will not lose those dollars. That's something that I am adamant about. And that's critical to make sure that we don't. Lose it because and in many respects that's a free opportunity. To improve upon ourselves by spending those dollars day in and day out and making sure we get the project's done. Well not only that you know we are vulnerable right to disasters future disasters. And so we don't want to have an experience to whether federal government looks at justices say you know what. You can even use the money that was alligator previously. And then blame us for the existing conditions that were Iranian and UK and you can say hey you know. Maybe they have a right to do that but right now I'm telling you pushing out about 27 million just this week point two. Key. Drainage projects empire on Tilly for storm water and these this is gin chilly area. As well as mid city with the Hague in the feet drainage project these have been sitting we got to get them done and so we're moving on them right now. And those are two areas that are historically have had it issues absolutely and even last Friday at one of those Dell movements. Mean you know well you know we we have to get this done and we have to continue to build trust. You know amongst our citizenry. And that's a priority. So you know surprises there. How about sewerage and water board I mean you you know you were involved obviously with being on the council used yell started to get information. In everybody's been getting information we're probably gonna and information. Overload. Many surprises as it relates to that process looking at it from a different perspective. Well I mean just Guillen just the it's not one issue it's it's. Multiple not even three it's it's it's multiple. Layer after layer after layer. And what has they become very clear it's not a technical issues that we had. It's more of an operational and a management issue. Upper and may at upper middle management almost nonexistent. So it is priority for me to get leadership and there. Working with the board to salute to Marta board which I hadn't had my first meeting may sixteenth. I put two in put in place an ad hoc selection committee so that we can down. Point enacting director which I did yesterday. And move through the process of selecting. The executive director which we believe will be the right around June. I'm sorry a right around July possibly Ott missed. Good I mean an end as you deal with those issues I mean between now and then of course we have the hurricane season which is always a concern. Same approach. Kind of project teams trying to identify what we can get you know resolved then and there's a lot of that saying FEMA money that's directed that way as well correct. That's exactly right and down those projects thinking in making sure that there moving we are in a better place than we banned since 2007. To be honest with you. With the sewage and water board has still right around. 115. Pumps working out of 120. The water towers that those projects coming on line which are. One is about to open one is about to open and the second one will be about a year later about a year later but that first one opening is going to be huge. For the city of New Orleans and and our greatest risk go around this has been power. And so working out entirely with generators also really working. Towards a greater partnership with Entergy. We lose power I mean an end by La you know it's a down. We have to go in Q. Boil our water advisories but I do believe that we are going to be in a much greater place. With the water tower. Now I'd absolutely it would become a struck me when I heard that yelled didn't have what I know. Each hour. All around me not been hunting in the backwoods of Mississippi walking through the woods you know looking for Ford deer in and end run across. A right away that had a lot of time out exactly hit. And it just always kind of struck me odd you know that that that wasn't the case in for the look benefit to listening audience that provides. It's that I have and a primer poll to keep the pressure in the lines gravity and keeps the pressure on the line by I have in the water. Pumped up into the tower and then he in his prime leave the war assistant throughout the city yes yes and it's it's it's just it's vital now and it's. As a key ingredient fair LaToya Cantrell third week of our administration. Still getting her feet Latin hopefully not gonna get an addict and as it. I am crank out all right then they got a left to keep from crime David at well I can tell you better like so I'm. You decided to keep. Chief Michael Harrison and I have a lot of respect for chief Michael Harris and so. You know for what it's worth the key he's a good man for the position. But you know now I mean you work with him obviously on a council but now he reports directly to you correct. So what did you tell what did you tell him well which you're expectation was of him and what diminish tennis. Absolutely will whining is you know are not likes that Sonata and look I don't I'm not looking for. Where we engage in just aware we word today vs last year it to say crime is down. Late effect. I want to now all yeah. Specifics is much detail as possible to to help with community policing to. Direct other city departments that could improve conditions in particular area where. Crime or violence is is occurring. Wanting a better working relationship. And just trying to deal trust one amongst our sales as well as you know with the force in general so. Really getting away from just looking at stats and tell me what's down erupts but but. Hitting the ground. And down warning to get some results done you know really wanting to focus very heavily on results. One of the criticisms. Of your predecessor. Was that he was a micro manager Ernie news maybe sometimes two hands on although. Every time I challenged him with the with that are others challenged him with that it was he he denied a vote you saw audience reveal itself and so many different ways. Is your style relative to the chief going to be. He knows what he's got to do I am I giving the overall mission and vision of what I wanna see accomplish and he's got a good he's gonna go do it. Yeah he's he's got to go do it or we have to look for. For a new leadership but I do not want to. Hang that over his head I want him to have the economy. To do the job. I know we had an NC come up. You'd cheek. They need they need to see you. You know endowment an absolutely he was there boots on the ground. And making sure that I'm happy he was. Being able to communicate. Directly with the public and not mean. A standing over a show. You know it occurred to me it while we share affinia Jason Parrish. We oral and many scenes together at the mayor and myself and and in in a couple of these scenes nothing happened till the mayor got there and I kept asking people what do we weigh in on while we do and it or wait on the mayor. Who what is the mayor have to contribute to this. There's a law enforcement investigation. Please tell me that's not the type of man that you're going to be that they're going to be waiting around for you to show seen before they do and. Oh absolutely not but I will step step one is seen. To use just to show presents. But it's not about me. You know it's about protecting and serving in those who are in law enforcement. To do their job. And I feel very confident I do in their ability to perform. And I want to sit at home and I believe that I have from day one. And we will hold one another accountable and we will look at results I tangible outcomes in communities and to see where they are an. You know when you think about the challenges that we have and and and the level of gun violence and then I had the DNA on the other day we're talking about juvenile crime is an uptick and that's obviously. A challenge I you know JP had an officer shot. About a month ago by a sixteen year old. We've had some. Very violent crimes across the country that have been recently reported commit about 1415 and sixteen year old who weapons in her hands. Series of armed robberies around the state. FBI just made some arrests and you're you're. Officers made some arrests as well and you know you its side it's something that. Is gonna take. It very intrusive or aggressive policing to deal with some of these issues today. And and not only that but but from a city's perspective we have to be hands on with the use studies in a word to announce now. And one of the things that I've taken very seriously that you study senator you know who's in charge the mayor. So I'm not can be hands offer that I have to be done and I. I didn't mean it totally that way but I don't know but all the all the whole real stops until mayor shows up on the scene. Mean these folks are trained to do with the got to do. Absolutely but I'm and then you study says I mean it is a priority for this administration because we have to get our hands around. This juvenile crime. And we're here in new thunder and no light goes on outside she's looking at me and I'm looking at RF eclectic. OK let's rock and roll but anyway. On. Is there or there was. A little hiccup or however you referred to as a relates to the office of homeland security and public safety and that we don't need to talk about that is just thinking forward. Is that a position that you still have the desire in an appetite to fill and are you going back out to do a nationwide search or whatever type a search in order to fill that position. Oh absolutely it's it's a key position. And I definitely want to fill in terms of homeland security and and public safety we have a director of homeland security and emergency prepared right so that's in place. But I do want this to be field. I think that it will give us much more attention. On the areas of really being innovative too. False multiplier is inviting crying. As well as preparing. Four other disasters on the mesh shootings and these cyber attacks. A suicide bombers I mean we are at a state where we have to be prepared for many different. Disasters or trauma. And and I think it's important. Yeah you know it's one of those positions that is kind of change because of the complexities of what we're Dylan when you think about after 9/11 and and you think about in this area. Emergency preparedness. And and affected it emergency preparedness a lot of folks don't realize the boots on the ground actually belong to other agency and department of public works year. Yet New Orleans Police Department EM asked the wallets fire department so it really begs of somebody. Being at the top of that pinnacle. You know looking down at all of those agencies. Absolutely an end just in the coordination. Is is key issue now. And also I want to maximized. The latest technology that we do have lacked the real time. Crimes and I mean it's huge. It's about a year old but where we can go with that I mean is endless so having someone in place focusing on met. That in my chief of police be the chief of police focus on fighting crime. But looking also at innovative ways that we can do a better job across the board. Mayor over the past several weeks a lot of folks have called in every time we talked about crime. What is this situation with the Louisiana state police they hear they gone they staying true with what what's the story. Well that the Louisiana state police as you know I've been great partners with the city of New Orleans. They there is a renewed commitment. To the city of New Orleans again under can't Charlie minister ration. The support of our governor his teeth and and it is unwavering which is important. There have been conversations and commitments relative to. The summer months. Warning to have our tactical teams in place much like we did last last year. I'm and we saw where we had issues with armed robberies and burglaries how working closely with state police were able to kind of minimize and mitigate. Of those matters so the works are are are happening right now and though the partnership is definitely alive. When we. There was an article in the paper the other data kind of struck me as odd and I wasn't sure wit you know what's gonna ultimately happened dealing with the previous administration as it relates to the distribution of taxes property taxes that were collected and in that the downtown downtown development district I think is actually sued the city now which when we're attacked for symphony it. It's recipient agencies sues you that's not a good thing. You're you're supposed to be working in collaboration with one another and then it's been revealed that possibly the school system. Flood protection district drainage district public safety in neighborhood improvement districts also. May have been slighted money on product on property tax distribution. Is that something you've been able to get your hands on. Hello man listen it was a lot of things coming through the door you know that I had two rounds gone back to the Apollo we were absolutely to address again and and one that these city attorney. Has been working very aggressively on of course it's under litigation you know we're it's we're moving through that. Hand and let it means. To me. Our resources. Are expenses that were not included in the budget for twenty AT. So these are some unforced seen. Costs. And we'll have to deal with them accordingly. But it's something that we're working on very diligently. You know in a while world and it did tax collection issue I mean obviously that is the revenue side of this everything absolutely mean it so. Payment services doesn't happen Alicia collect. That that taxes. That are due. Have you considered due and and operational lauded the tax collection programs that you all haven't placed in the setting. Oh astle there there a couple of things why is making sure that. The ERP system that has been we're not fully implemented but it has started which will help streamline and built in efficiencies. As it relates to that tax collections. Also looking at strengthening. The auditors that we have in house as well as possibly bringing from outside. Of you know some outside consulting I want this so that we can get our. Hands around it and get the revenues that we know are sitting out there. Through the bill war. And this is a price yarn that is come from the finance department as well. You know these positions pay for the sales but what we found we haven't been auditing enough that the message. Throughout the city previously was that that you can get away with it. So what one institute to turn that around. Two where are not in the city of New Orleans you have to. Be above board and do what's right if you're making money we want to make sure that the city is collecting. What is due out to her so this is a priority again it will pay for itself so looking at beefing up this finance department in revenue. Is key also. I'm looking at one of the things we cleared this up franchise agreements. What we found that coming through the doors that. We were not collecting. Feet. So when you talk about that for the listening audience at like Cox and you know some of the other franchise agreement out where they're using city properties are here right aways. City services that their monies to treat you. Our monies due to us and we found that we have not been collecting those dollars and I instructed the law department as well as a kind of breathing life back into. A utilities department is no woman even managing. So this is something that we can easily do low hanging fruit. How we got our first. Check for 500000. Just going after one that owes us up to seven million. So good faith payment of 500000 Michael being that's that's good but it's not good enough. We look all of us not seven Milbank we need all of our money so we're gonna be very let it comes in 500000 dollar Texas that runs it will take but we're going to continue to be aggressive as it relates to what. But. That you know we've talked about a number of issues do you get the sense. I'm I know you know about the organization of the operational culture. Do you get the sense after three weeks that it might have been a little worse than what you initially thought. You know. I do but what I am sensing is is that. Trying to get people to you to understand that. I don't work and it stitched like I'm not that I got. Play and I'm not after he doesn't have to be out there doesn't have to be adversary also kind of setting that time that. All I want to do is to get things done I want you to tell me straight if there's an issue give it to me straight. That's all that's how we want it so that we can come of real solution. We got to take a break but I will tell you someone asked me on here the other day about what you had to say about the drain is when we had the rain event and has to do you know if nothing else. She told the story straight. It is what it is an inning and it changed until we get our hit together. To turn them around. That's exactly right and I wanna he has with people an order for force citizens to respond the way that we need him to. They have to be given the information straight app so I can deal with the truth I can to an end to citizens do absolutely. Concerns on a special session may or may not know that the city's got a lot at stake obviously the state does. And you know that knows no city or our minister palate can succeed unless the states succeeding so what are your concerns. That's exactly right it will definitely around hospital. I'm critical service particularly for elderly and dentists able citizens. You know we had that investment of one point two billion dollar. Hospital UNC campus system the only level one trauma center in the Gulf Coast. And license Berenson and I'm very concerned about the resources. Not getting where they need to be. I'm also you know you have 2500. That folks employed. 640. Positions as well so it's it's it it's a big concern. You know I really is out it makes me think about with this infighting kind of going on at the state level. It it reminds me of when I was at Washington my graph you know in in DC in January. And I came back me up so hard and we have. Some great people in our state good as says it's natural resources there's no way that we should be. In the situation that were. To give people what they need no one million. Obama fry it up there are bought and said we beat up pars on ourselves pretty good. We need to become our best cheerleaders as well because that that breeds a culture of success at some you know in in many respects and I know people look at it very cynical but it really doesn't mean it's the way that you manage organizations. Your forward leaning organizations. Develop a culture. About creating successes within that organization absolutely. And it transfers. Over to the people we serve right and salute you know and that's where the rubber meets the medal final thoughts you know thank you so much are really wanna come back on a regular basis. I'm not only did check check with you but really they're listening audience. Yeah we didn't take calls this time we would love to do that in the future and I don't understand that we had a lot of issues to cover that's on me down on you but. You know I just wanted to get through it and it in the third week in and we wish you the best the locked and hopefully we come through this week announced it. I'm telling you will let me let me say thank you looking in and done. Really the way is in our front I think we have great opportunities we look at that these manure houses fertilizer I'm gonna have a lot of things growing. In the city of new line all right that's mayor LaToya Cantrell. Three weeks then mother nature's gonna tester again this weekend and we will see where this saw les thanks so much for common and we truly appreciated.