NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Mayor Cantrell’s administration is in the hot seat for it’s multi-million dollar “Smart Cities” wifi deal.
Helena Moreno and other council members say the city’s “lack of transparency” when it came to the proposal was a red flag.
The proposal, which is now off the table by the original company contracted to do it, would provide public wifi across New Orleans.
Over three hours of questioning for Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s Director of Utilities Jonathan Rhodes.
“There was no way to rig this very public and fair process,” said Rhodes.
Rhodes is under investigation for possible bid-rigging in the smart cities contract.
“Smart+Connected Nola received the highest score because their proposal was offered at cost-neutral plan,” said Rhodes. “It’s important to note the cox proposal that was given to us had a price tag of over $150 million. that’s money the city simply does not have to pay.”
Reports show Rhodes had previous connections with the company working as a consultant pro bono.
“There was nothing unethical nothing improper that was done by the city or any of its employees during the procurement process of this,” said Rhodes.
Tensions began to run high. Council President Helena Moreno didn’t hold back.
She’s someone who has been skeptical of the whole process.
“This whole thing about how this council has prevented kids from getting internet — by the way that was never really part of your plan,” said Moreno. “It was all a big smart cities plan on kiosks and lights and on all these different things.”
Mayor Cantrell’s office released a statement saying the council’s investigatory authority is limited by the city charter and accused the council of exceeding their authority.