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Timing is everything in politics, and time was on LaToya Cantrell’s side during her first year in office. She leveraged voter outrage over the Aug. 5, 2017 floods to get millions for infrastructure improvements from the state and the local hospitality industry, announcing the deal on the eve of her first anniversary as mayor. She also touted lower violent crime rates for murder, robbery and burglary.

Cantrell is New Orleans’ first truly post-Katrina mayor; her politics are bottom-up, not top-down. Even when she’s wrong, as she clearly is on the issue of transparency, she still connects on a visceral level with her voters.

I’m told by one pollster that her numbers are higher than her predecessor Mitch Landrieu’s at his peak. Consider two recent tax referenda. She single-handedly killed the proposed millage for senior services on March 30, then turned around and led the drive to renew 6.31 mills for parks and recreation on May 4.

Those electoral victories, along with her popularity, make Cantrell the undisputed political power in New Orleans. No doubt Gov. John Bel Edwards, who needs a big vote out of New Orleans to get re-elected in the fall, has noticed. Edwards played a huge role in closing the hospitality industry deal — and he’s providing millions more in one-time state funding.

When I asked Cantrell recently to talk about her relationship with the governor, she framed it in the context of the infrastructure deal. “I think it’s a healthy relationship, meaning a willingness to negotiate and meet in the middle on an issue that impacts the future of the state and the city," she said. "It was a lot of back and forth and pushing and pulling. It wasn’t easy on his end or on mine. We were relentless in terms of trying to get to common ground.”

Not exactly hearts and flowers, but presumably Cantrell will come to appreciate the value of having a friend in the Governor’s Mansion.

Then there’s the issue of transparency. She claims to have been transparent in all her dealings. That’s just not so, and she got testy when I asked her about not telling the public in advance that she had lowered the threshold for receiving traffic camera-generated speeding tickets in school zones.

“I feel I did not need to announce it because of the levels of people speeding in school zones,” Cantrell said. “And if you drive (through) school zones now, man, it’s exciting. People have gotten into compliance. … To me, it’s mind-boggling that we spend so much time on a threshold when we should be talking about our children.”

Surely everyone appreciates that school zones are safer, but transparency matters, too — particularly when the mayor has a pattern of opacity.

Take, for example, her failure to let voters know in advance about her trade mission to Cuba; or her insistence that her transition team members sign nondisclosure agreements (something no other mayor-elect requested); or when she called The Advocate to complain that a reporter accurately wrote about a Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) meeting — accusing the writer of trying to “screw” the city; or when she held a private telephone conference with some S&WB board members, then announced the resignation of the agency’s executive director.

It’s possible voters will overlook such a blatant lack of transparency, but if her timing — and her luck — run out, she may find that transparency actually matters a great deal. By then, it will be too late to recognize it as her Achilles’ heel.