The Battle Over Jackson County Detention Center Continues

By Eric L. Wesson Sr.
CALL Staff Writer
In what appears to be another step in the ongoing feud between the Jackson County Legislature and County Executive Frank White Jr., Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker joined the ranks of the Legislature by submitting a letter to the County Executive declining his invitation to join a task-force that he recently seated to come up with recommendations for the Jackson County jail.
On Monday, Nov. 27, the Jackson County Prosecutor submitted her letter declining the invitation to participate on a task-force to examine many of the issues associated with the County jail.
In part, she sided with the Legislature, in that immediate action is needed to resolve the issues surrounding the County jail and that other task-forces have already stated.
“I am writing to inform you that I am declining your invitation to serve on a new task-force regarding the Jackson County Detention center. The recent brutal assault of a corrections officer has prompted me to re-evaluate my participation,” Ms. Peters Baker said.
“It’s clear that action is required immediately. Community input may be helpful in guiding your staff regarding impacts related to long-term solutions. But action is required now to fix the immediate problems at the jail. The jail expert who advised the County Legislature were very clear earlier this year that the overcrowded conditions and poor staffing  were a crisis that needed to be addressed immediately,” she said.
“They recommended closing a part of the jail until those conditions could be remedied. Spending more time to further study the overcrowded and unsafe conditions at the detention center is simply inappropriate,”  Ms. Peters Baker said.
Read more in The Call.

LaToya Cantrell Becomes New Orleans’ First Woman Mayor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — LaToya Cantrell, a City Council member who first gained a political following as she worked to help her hard-hit neighborhood recover from Hurricane Katrina, won a historic election Saturday (November 18) that made her the first woman mayor of New Orleans.

The Democrat will succeed term-limited fellow Democrat Mitch Landrieu as the city celebrates its 300th anniversary next year.
“Almost 300 years, my friends. And New Orleans, we’re still making history,” Ms. Cantrell told a cheering crowd in her victory speech.
The leader in most polls before the runoff election, she never trailed as votes were counted.

Her opponent, former municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet, conceded the race and congratulated Ms. Cantrell late Saturday. Later, complete returns showed Cantrell with 60 percent of the vote.
“I do not regret one moment of anything about this campaign,” Charbonnet said.

The two women led a field of 18 candidates in an October general election to win runoff spots.

Landrieu earned credit for accelerating the recovery from Hurricane Katrina in an administration cited for reduced blight, improvements in the celebrated tourism economy and economic development that included last week’s announcement that a digital services company is bringing 2,000 new jobs to the city.

But Ms. Cantrell will face lingering problems. Crime is one. Another is dysfunction at the agency overseeing the city’s drinking water system and storm drainage — a problem that became evident during serious flash flooding in August.

Ms. Cantrell faced questions about her use of a city credit card. Judge Charbonnet had to fight back against critics who cast her as an insider who would steer city work to cronies.

Katrina was a theme in the backstories of both candidates. Ms. Cantrell moved to the city from California. Her work as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Katrina in the hard-hit Broadmoor neighborhood helped her win a seat on council in 2012.
Judge Charbonnet, from a well-known political family in New Orleans, was the city’s elected recorder of mortgages before she was a judge. In the campaign she made a point of saying hers was the first city office to re-open after Katrina, providing critical property records to the displaced.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Under Fire From Governor And Attorney General

By Eric L. Wesson Sr.
CALL Staff Writer

Potential developers wanting to build low-income housing may be packing their bags and moving out of the urban core as Gov. Eric Grietens and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley vote against funding the housing program.

On Friday, Nov. 17, the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted 6-2 to not to allocate $140 million in funding for the state’s low-income housing tax credit program to match federal funding.

“For every dollar that went into the program, only about 42 to 55 cents actually went to building housing for poor people. We zeroed out this failing program, and saved tens of millions of dollars. No. More. Giveaways,” Grietens said.

Greitens cast the deciding vote to approve the motion by former Republican state senator and Greitens appointee Jason Crowell to fully fund federal tax credits, but provide no funds for the state’s match.

A vote to issue a notice of funding availability at a future commission meeting is still needed before the tax credit allocation is final.
Former Republican State Senator Jason Crowell’s amended plan states that no state tax credits are “authorized under this Qualified Allocation Plan to fund affordable housing.” Crowell, appointed in early September, has been a long-time critic of the tax credit program and previously sat on the Governor’s Committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes.

That committee in June released a report that includes the credit return rate figures that Greitens cited. The report stated the Missouri tax credit program for low-income housing is an inefficient use of public funds, and estimated the program has led to the construction of only 33 percent more affordable housing units than would have been constructed with the federal program alone.