New Orleans mayor offers racial justification for flying first class

There's a famous joke that the definition of the Yiddish word chutzpah can be summed up by the man who murdered both his parents and then threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.  In English, when you want to make the same point, you could refer to someone's bald-faced, unabashed effrontery in seriously making a laughable claim about his entitlement to something undeserved.  (It sounds better, and funnier, in Yiddish.)  LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans, has chutzpah when it comes to justifying her refusing to repay the town treasury for $30,000 in business and first-class plane tickets.

The city that Cantrell...ahem...leads bans government employees and officials who are flying on official business from getting tickets for luxury travel and then charging them to the public purse.  Instead, as is the case for all public entities, New Orleans's official policy requires that city employees traveling on city business either seek the lowest fares possible or, if they upgrade, reimburse the city for the additional costs.

Cantrell couldn't be bothered with such rules, which are clearly for the little people.  Instead, when she flew to Miami, D.C., France, and Switzerland on official business (and no, I don't know why the New Orleans mayor needs to go to France and Switzerland on official business), she charged $30,000 to the city's taxpayers for first-class tickets.  Her staff, including her security detail, traveled coach.  (And no, I don't know why a city mayor needs a security detail.)

Image: 4WWL video screen grab.

We're used to city officials abusing the public purse for their own benefit, but I don't think anyone has offered Cantrell's excuse for traveling first class rather than coach, as her staff did.  According to her, it was necessary for her safety as a Black woman that she be in the front of the plane, getting waited on hand and foot, enjoying the best food and drink, and sleeping in a real bed:

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, LaToya Cantrell said: 'My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury.

'As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone.

'As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be.

'Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn't understand the world black women walk in.'

That's true chutzpah.  We non-female, non-Black people simply cannot understand the risk of mugging and assault that takes place in the coach class, something from which those first-class passengers are mercifully insulated.  Put Cantrell in the back of the plane, and it's like asking Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus, only worse.

Enveloped in her racial superiority, Cantrell was blunt — there's no way the city is going to get the money back from her:

"All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans," she said Thursday at an event in Algiers. "One thing is clear: I do my job, and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way. That's what I have to say on that."

Did I mention that the poverty rate in New Orleans is 25.4% according to one source, significantly higher than Louisiana's overall poverty rate of 19.6%?  Blacks are the ethnic group most affected by poverty, with 33.2% of Blacks experiencing poverty, compared to the national Black poverty rate of 25.2%.  Women also experience more poverty in New Orleans than men: 27.3% versus 23.2%.

In other words, Cantrell's chutzpahdik means that she's taken $30,000 from her city's treasury, money that arguably could be used to alleviate the poverty in which Black women live.  I may be wrong, of course, but it strikes me that it's a lot more dangerous for Black women to live in New Orleans's slums (where crime rates have been soaring) than it is for Cantrell to fly coach.

Urban Democrats put forward utterly (and openly) unprincipled and incompetent politicians who have no scruples about abusing the public purse or betraying the people they represent — and the residents in these Democrat-run cities keep voting for them.  I guess they're getting what they deserve, but it's still very sad.  I hope the city impeaches her and then sues her, but I suspect that's too much to ask.

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