During a packed-house council meeting, March 13, where several council members were accused of racism, the Port Allen city council adopted a resolution 3-2 to request that the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office launch an investigation into Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s first few months in office.
Likewise, Slaughter is taking her own action. She said she is seeking the opinion of La. Attorney General “Buddy” Caldwell, filing “a discrimination, harassment and violation of Civil Rights complaint against the white council members of the City of Port Allen” with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and asking Holder to “investigate the actions of these white council members.”
Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere, who led the charge to investigate Slaughter, said at the March 13 city council meeting that he welcomes any further investigations.
“I have nothing to hide,” he said.
Slaughter said in her letter to Holder, “the white council members” were trying to intimidate her by passing the resolution to investigate her.
“I refuse to surrender the Mayor’s office to them,” she said.
Resident William Nelson said the mayor is currently appealing a Feb. 20 ruling by the 18th Judicial District Court, a ruling which reinstated Audrey McCain as the city’s CFO. Slaughter maintains in her letter to Holder that CFO is not a department head but a staff position to the mayor.
After the meeting, Slaughter said she is not allowed to comment on whether she filed that appeal.
Slaughter’s letter to Caldwell outlines three issues “that have been discussed in the media by Port Allen City Council members” -- her salary, her trip to the Presidential inauguration funded by taxpayer dollars, and her hiring of a Chief of Staff, a position created by Slaughter. She asks the La. Attorney General to “issue the appropriate opinions or reports.”
During the meeting, Riviere said he wants an independent party to investigate the mayor for allegedly increasing her salary by $20,000 without council approval.
Slaughter said after the meeting, “I did not give myself a pay raise.” She said since Jan. 1 she has made the same salary as former mayor Roger Bergeron.
In June 2012, after the city council, under Bergeron, adopted the 2012-2013 budget, Bergeron suggested lowering the mayor’s salary from about $85,000 to $65,000 annually, due to the size of Port Allen.
He proposed the $20,000 salary reduction, effective Jan. 1, 2013, but the council did not vote on the item. CFO Audrey McCain said at that time, the council still had time before Jan. 1 to decide on the issue.
Riviere, in his resolution, said he also wants the investigation to look into the mayor’s “authorizing and receiving reimbursement for travel to the Presidential inauguration without benefit to the City of Port Allen.”
Slaughter said she was invited to the inauguration by a member of Congress, that she networked in Washington, D.C. with congressional staff members and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, that the trip falls under acceptable uses of the city’s travel policy and that McCain reviewed the expense report before issuing a reimbursement check.
Riviere said the resolution also requests investigation into Slaughter’s hiring of a Chief of Staff, “an unauthorized and unpaid position” and “allowing the individual unrestricted access to private and confidential customer and employee information.”
Slaughter and Chief of Staff Ralph Slaughter, brother to the mayor’s husband, have both said that Ralph is currently working without a salary. Slaughter said at the March 6 committee meeting, “When you volunteer your time, then yes, you would have access to whatever is in that administrative role or position.”
Slaughter said she presented all necessary information of the position to the council, but that, “this position is not a department head and does not require the approval of the Council.”
Slaughter said during the meeting, “I told you, Councilman Riviere, that we could sit down, work through it ourselves, [with] the council, with all the legal documentation that I have on all of these issues, but you said no. You would prefer to do it this way.”
Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence said, “I would love to see the city employees work together in harmony.”