0.1 C
New York
Thursday, March 30, 2023
HomeLeadershipMorrell slams Cantrell over leadership 'vacuum,' says council has mandate to curb...

Morrell slams Cantrell over leadership ‘vacuum,’ says council has mandate to curb mayoral excesses | The Latest | Gambit Weekly



Related stories

Baseball's Pitch Clock Lessons For Corporate Leadership – Forbes

Baseball's Pitch Clock Lessons For Corporate Leadership  Forbes Source

Immersive Labs Announces New Executive Leadership Hires to … – WV News

Immersive Labs Announces New Executive Leadership Hires to ...  WV...

EU regulators distance themselves from Credit Suisse bond writedowns

BRUSSELS — European regulators distanced themselves from the Swiss...

DuBois Area United Way Releases Statement Regarding Former … – GANT News

DuBois Area United Way Releases Statement Regarding Former ...  GANT...

New Orleans City Council President JP Morrell said the days of a strong executive branch bulldozing the city’s legislative body are over, and he’s vowed to use the council as an independent check against Mayor LaToya Cantrell over the remainder of her time in office.

Morrell took over as president from fellow At-Large Council Member Helena Moreno in January. In a recent interview with Gambit, he argued council members are emboldened to flex the body’s legislative and oversight muscles in ways the city has rarely seen from previous councils for a few reasons: Moreno’s efforts to beef up the council’s independence, Cantrell’s handling of the budget last year and the overwhelming public support for a charter amendment which created a new confirmation process for mayoral appointments.

Morrell explained that heading into last year’s session, “there were many of us who wanted the council to be much more aggressive and much more authoritative when it came to our purview of doing legislation. You had four members who really felt strongly the council should be a strong council. And you had three members who really felt like, well two of them might have been on the fence and one of them felt like the mayor-led politics of the past was the way of the future.”

According to Morrell, one of the biggest reasons for the shift in attitude among some of his colleagues came relatively late in 2022, as the city was preparing for its annual budget process.

“The mayor began the traditional position of trying to dictate to council members how money would be spent and to intimate that those who were her friends would get the money they were entitled to and those who were not would be punished,” Morrell said.

“That is where you saw the council really assert itself in an independent role because I think [for] a lot of members, it finally dawned on them,” he added. “We write the budget. Why are we … bowing to their will when, if we don’t like something in a budget, we can just change it?”

New Orleans District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso Tuesday ruled out a run to replace his mother on the city’s court even as he took steps for a …

It was a transformative moment for the council and one that will help him in his role as president, Morrell said.

“I think the membership began to realize, wait a second, a lot of things the city can do, we do have some agency because we fund everything,” he said. “Going into this year, I feel like as President, my job is actually a little bit easier because the members feel like they have a mandate. The charter amendment, and the vote that passed the charter amendment, really impressed upon the council that there’s a lot of trust being put by the public in the council to be an independent legislative body and a check on the mayor.”

Relations between Cantrell and the council have always been tense throughout the mayor’s time in office. But the addition of Morrell and District B Council Member Lesli Harris last January, combined with Moreno and District A Council Member Joe Giarrusso, has created a majority bloc on the council which envisions a stronger oversight and legislative branch of government than has traditionally been present.

That has further strained relations with Cantrell, who prefers a top-down, centralized approach to leadership and has publicly bristled at challenges to that authority.

Morrell and Cantrell also find themselves on the opposite sides of a number of key policy issues in the city, the most obvious being what to do about short-term rentals.

New Orleans City Council President JP Morrell will use a series of changes made last year to the charter and budget process to step up the cha…

Cantrell has long surrounded herself with advisors and staff who come from the real estate industry, and she put an executive from an STR company in charge of enforcing the city’s already weak rules governing the industry. In fact, her hand-picked head of the 911 and 311 systems (and the czar of her new anti-crime task force) is real estate agent Tyrell Morris. (Council Vice President Moreno has also worked as a real estate agent.)

Morrell, meanwhile, has railed against the STR industry over its negative effect on rental costs in the city and contribution to rampant gentrification, particularly in historic Black neighborhoods.

In the interview, Morrell pulled a few punches when it came to how he feels about Cantrell’s leadership.

“My goal as president of the council is really to try and empower the members to work together on solutions for across the city, district by district and citywide because whether it be crime, whether it be the streetlights, whether it be Sewerage & Water Board, there’s simply no leadership from the mayor’s office to solve any of those problems,” he said. “And I think that whereas the council historically has been very deferential to the mayor, when there’s a vacuum of leadership, it’s the council’s role of stepping into that vacuum [to] lead.”


Latest stories