District D City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and District E Councilman Jon Johnson met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu one day before both councilmembers skipped meetings at which the Council was scheduled to vote on an interim replacement for the District B seat, which was vacated when Stacy Head won the election for one of the two council-at-large positions.
According to Hedge-Morrell's personal calendar, which was obtained by Gambit via a public records request, she and Johnson — who have not attended any council meetings since May 3, when they abruptly walked out mid-meeting — were scheduled to meet with Landrieu May 15, the day before City Council was scheduled to meet to wrap up its unfinished May 3 agenda. Lena Stewart, Hedge-Morrell's chief of staff, confirmed that the meeting with Landrieu took place, though she could not comment on what was discussed as she was not present.
Ryan Berni, a Landrieu spokesman, confirmed the meeting occurred but did not elaborate: "They did meet, as it is customary for Mayor Landrieu to meet with councilmembers. The mayor has met with other councilmembers in recent weeks and has spoken to Mr. George recently as well."
"Mr. George" was among the items on the May 3 agenda — specifically, the confirmation of Errol George as an interim appointment to the now-vacant District B seat. Neither Hedge-Morrell nor Johnson attended. They were again absent from a May 17 regular Council meeting.
Hedge-Morrell also met with Head May 15 to try to resolve the matter, her calendar shows. Head confirmed the meeting in a statement to Gambit: "After nearly two weeks of reaching out to Councilmember Hedge-Morrell through intermediaries as well as electronically, I met with her in person the day before the May 15 special meeting to allay any concerns that would keep her from attending the meeting. We had a productive conversation and I believed it likely that she would return to the Council so that we could take care of pressing city business. ... Unfortunately, it was all in vain."
City Council has until June 1 — 30 days after Head was sworn in as an at-large councilmember — to fill Head's former seat. After that, Landrieu can make the appointment. The next full council meeting isn't scheduled until June 7, six days after the cutoff.
— CHARLES MALDONADO