Judge freezes millions of trust that benefits New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state judge has frozen New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s ability to distribute money from a land trust while the city council and mayor battle for the money control.

The Times-Picayune’ The New Orleans Advocate reports that Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Kern Reese’s decision came after the council asked the judge to stop Cantrell from donating the money.

Reese also blocked the money from flowing to the trust’s other traditional beneficiaries. The judge said he would decide after a hearing on Wednesday whether to keep the freeze in place until the lawsuit is resolved.

The Wisner Trust generates revenue from approximately 38,000 acres of oil land in and around Port Fourchon. Edward Wisner bequeathed the land to the city in 1914, and a settlement divided the profits among the city, Tulane University, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, the Army of Hi and Wisner’s heirs.

The trust produces about $9 million a year, of which just over a third goes to the city.

A court determined in 2014 that the trust had expired and the city should get its full value. However, former mayor Mitch Landrieu made no changes, retaining the mayor’s power to distribute money without city council approval.

Cantrell and other beneficiaries turned the trust over to a private management board in 2020, shutting down the board again.

Cantrell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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