New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell won’t be traveling to Argentina this week to attend a climate conference in Buenos Aires, and will instead participate in panel discussions virtually, her administration said Tuesday.
It’s not clear what led to the mayor’s change in plans. On Saturday, Cantrell spokesperson Gregory Joseph said the mayor planned to travel to the C40 World Mayors Summit conference to attend the event in person, which would have marked her second overseas trip in as many weeks and her fourth since June.
The conference is billed as a hybrid virtual and in-person event focused on sustainable development, climate resiliency and other topics. In panels scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the mayor is set to discuss green infrastructure and solar projects in New Orleans.
Cantrell previously attended the C40 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2019.
The mayor has drawn criticism for her frequent travel and for frequently flying business and first class at taxpayer expense. According to an analysis compiled by Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño, Cantrell has taken 10 trips this year in which she charged the city for first- or business-class seats in violation of a city policy that requires employees to reimburse for upgrades.
Cantrell agreed to reimburse the city after Montaño and City Attorney Donesia Turner recently affirmed that the policy applies to the mayor. Cantrell has not provided a time frame for doing so.
Montaño’s analysis indicated Cantrell owes the city $29,810 for this year’s trips.
“Mayor Cantrell has committed to reimbursing the city for the expenses and will make the payments to the Department of Finance as soon as possible,” Montaño said in a letter to City Council President Helena Moreno, who requested the analysis.
Montaño’s analysis excludes Cantrell’s trip to Amsterdam this month to the Bloomberg CityLab Conference and Mayors Innovation Studio. It is not clear who paid for that trip or how much it cost. A public records request for that information is pending.
Cantrell traveled to France and Switzerland this summer to sign “sister city” agreements. Domestically, Cantrell has traveled to three U.S. Conference of Mayors meetings, in Washington, D.C., Miami and Reno, Nevada. She also traveled to Miami for the Aspen Ideas Climate Summit.
Other destinations have included San Francisco, Austin and New York.