The city’s Office of Inspector General requested documents from FTNO to determine how the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Wisner Trust are being spent. FTNO was using money from the multi-million dollar Wisner Family Land Trust. That trust is a century-old fund that pays the City of New Orleans millions of dollars each year. It has paid millions to agencies that have done everything from trying to stop gun violence to assisting those who couldn’t pay rent.
The New Orleans City Council went to court to freeze all further spending from the trust fund.
“We don’t know where the money has been going because it’s been handled by a private board since 2020,” said Councilman Joe Giarusso.
“I think their belief is that the money is being diverted to private sources that have a connection to the mayor and they just can’t see it,” said Dr. Robert Collins, with Dillard University’s School of Public Policy.
While the investigation continues, no payments are being made to any FTNO members.
During 2020 the organization was active in providing services to the community and residents who were impacted by COVID in terms of financial services that people could not meet individually due to the pandemic,” said former board member Silas Lee. “That was a critical time not only in New Orleans but nationwide, many community groups stepped up to fill a void in terms of services to meet the quality of life needs of citizens.”
Lee says his term as board member ran out earlier this year unrelated to the OIG’s investigation.
“The lack of transparency definitely creates suspicion because we’ve seen so much other lack of transparency with this administration,” said Collins.
A recall petition had been filed against Mayor Cantrell even before this latest scandal. New Orleans the highest per capita murder rate and a shortage of police officers. The mayor threatened to cancel Mardi Gras before she had to almost immediately walk that nonsense back.
Then there’s the matter of Mayor Cantrell flying first class when all her staff and security people fly coach when she travels overseas. She is being told to reimburse the city for her excess expenses but she has refused to do so. She claims she has to fly first class because of “the world Black women walk in.” That’s right. When all else fails, throw the race card. What about the black women on her staff and security detail?
The mayor has not exactly covered herself in glory with her management skills. More often than not, she comes off as tone-deaf and unaware of what is going on in the city.
The New Orleans Police Department announced it will hire civilians to help out during this time of police officer shortages. Civilians will do administrative tasks to free up officers to do other work.
“The goal is for our officers to feel safe, so they can make our citizens and visitors feel safe,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said Thursday at a press conference.
Ferguson said the department is focused on hiring civilian police intake specialists, who will monitor phones at the department and replace administrative police officers. The department will also hire between 50 and 75 civilians who will respond to calls that do not require the presence of a police officer. Some of the civilians will even be trained to do detective work, WDSU reported.
“As we take calls over the phone, there may be some evidence that needs to be collected with that call. We’ll have civilian investigators to go out and collect that evidence instead of an officer having to go out there and collect that evidence,” Ferguson said.
Police officers will no longer answer calls about loose animals, medical calls, or auto accidents on private property.
Homicides in New Orleans have increased by 78% in 2022 compared to 2021. Homicides are up 121% in 2022 compared to 2019. Some of the civilians hired may be former applicants who were rejected. New Orleans Police Department lost 150 officers last year.
“My message to you — to those of you [who] may have been disqualified in the past, I’m urging you to resubmit your application because some of our hiring criteria has changed,” Ferguson said, noting that some changes have been made to the hiring process, such as not allowing credit scores to affect a hiring decision.
The civilians being hired will undergo training and background checks.