The Latest: On August 30, 2022 we requested records from the office of Louisiana Attorney General Landry regarding AG Landry’s remarks threatening funding for critical projects in New Orleans. The Commission’s action to delay funding for a critical flood control project, and Attorney General Landry’s words to compel such delay, constitute an abuse of power. The public deserves full transparency regarding these actions in order to assess whether the conduct is appropriate.
On August 18, 2022 the state’s Bond Commission voted 7-6 to withhold a $39 million non-cash line of credit through the state construction budget for New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. This project, the New Sewerage and Water Board Power Plant, Planning and Construction, has been described as critical to protect the city from damage in future flood scenarios. This vote to withhold the funds—the second in as many months—occurred at the beginning of hurricane season. Indeed, it was reported that a flood warning was issued for portions of New Orleans the same day that the August vote occurred.
The Bond Commission’s actions regarding funding—first in July and subsequently the vote to delay funding in August—aligned clearly with the request articulated by Attorney General Landry.
A letter from Attorney General Landry to to the Bond Commission in July urged it “to defer any applications for the City of New Orleans, Orleans Parish, and any local governmental entity or political subdivision under its purview” and, further encouraged the Bond Commission to also pause “any other funding that will directly benefit the City of New Orleans,” explicitly including the New Orleans Aviation Board North Terminal Project.
At the Bond Commission’s August meeting, Attorney General Landry reportedly threatened the New Orleans City Council that “If they want this project to move forward, rescind the resolution” and demanded that City officials appear before the Bond Commission on policy disagreements unrelated to the Commission’s authority.
Notably, concern about the appropriate role of the Bond Commission—specifically whether it is appropriate for the Bond Commission to delay or withhold funding for reasons unrelated to the project details—is a concern that has been articulated by individuals across the political spectrum.
By imposing this delay, the Bond Commission penalized New Orleans for a policy position wholly divorced from the underlying purpose of the funding. The Commission’s action, and Attorney General Landry’s words to compel it, constitute an abuse of power. The public deserves full transparency regarding these actions in order to assess whether the conduct is appropriate.