NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans City Council has taken the first step toward terminating Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s communications director amid the mailer controversy.

It’s an unprecedented move because, according to Council President JP Morrell, this is the first time the council has ever moved to terminate an unclassified employee.

During Tuesday’s special meeting, council members voted 4-2 to charge the mayor’s communications director, Gregory Joseph, with incompetence, neglect of duty and gross misconduct in accordance with the Home Rule Charter.

“The way the charter outlines the termination process, there has to be a list of charges as a basis for termination,” Morrell explained. “That, however, does not preclude the ability for law enforcement agencies, such as the attorney general or the district attorney, from bringing criminal charges against Mr. Joseph.”

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Councilmen Eugene Green and Freddie King opposed the charges. Ahead of the vote, Green said he was not convinced Joseph used public funds for political reasons.

“I think there are other alternatives, involving other agencies and other mechanisms, of getting to the bottom of whether or not this was, in fact, because I don’t have that testimony, I have conflicting testimony as to whether or not this was based on the recall itself,” Green said.

However, according to Councilwoman Lesli Harris, Joseph lied under oath during the Aug. 31 Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, calling it unforgiveable.

“While I understand Mr. Green’s perspective, and I understand the administration’s perspective. I don’t think that the City of New Orleans can afford to employ someone who is dishonest, not only with the city council but dishonest with the public,” Harris said.

Cantrell has until Friday to decide if she wants to terminate Joseph.

“If she chooses not to terminate him, there will be a hearing on Oct. 3 by the council to move forward with its termination of Mr. Joseph,” Morrell said. “In that interim period, he will have the ability to request documents to hire his own council.”

WGNO reached out to Joseph, but he declined to comment. WGNO also reached out to the mayor’s office to get an idea of how she would like to proceed, but we did not hear back.

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