Port Allen Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter vetoed an ordinance which would have clarified the city’s department heads in the city’s code of ordinances.
Current ordinances provide greater job protection to department heads, who can only be terminated by the council’s approval, but those department heads were never formally identified in the city’s code of ordinances. The new ordinance would have listed the following as department heads: Chief Financial Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Public Works, Fire Chief and Police Chief.
Slaughter, in a letter to council members, said she vetoed the ordinance because it was not recommended by the mayor. According to La. revised statute 33:362, all departments, other than a police department with an elected chief, are “created, abolished, merged or consolidated by the board of aldermen, upon written recommendation of the mayor.”
The veto comes after the May 8 city council meeting where residents urged the mayor and city council members to work together.
“We [ought to be] moving forward - black, white, brown, yellow - with some sense of unity and purpose,” resident Ray Stumbo said. “The West Side is the best side.”
However, former mayor Roger Bergeron said certain things divide the city, such as an eight-page petition being circulated in the community, written by resident William Nelson, which accuses many city officials of racism and corruption.
“It’s probably the most vile document I’ve ever seen,” Bergeron said.
He noted the petition’s “broken syntax” and referred specifically to page six of the document, which alleges that Bergeron “hired a white convicted kkk felon in [former assistant Chief Administrative Officer Cenceria Dalcourt’s] place for racial and political gain.”
Last year Bergeron hired former Port Allen Police Chief Adrian Genre as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer over Dalcourt and ten other applicants. Twelve years ago Genre served six months in prison for perjury, or lying under oath.
Bergeron refuted the petition’s claims, saying Genre won the CAO position “by competitive nature,” although admitting he will have his day in court about the issue. Dalcourt currently has a civil rights lawsuit against Bergeron in Louisiana District Court.
Bergeron asked Genre, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the KKK?”
Genre said no.
“This document’s full of lies,” Bergeron said. “At some point in time, whoever’s associated with the people who authored this ought to repudiate it. Stand up and say this is wrong. This is dead wrong, and all it does is divide us.”
Slaughter denied having any part in the petition. “I don’t have nothing to do with that,” she said during an interview Monday, May 6.
Chief of Staff Ralph Slaughter said it’s just a citizen expressing his First Amendment rights.
Slaughter said after the May 8 city council meeting, “I feel like…we’re buried under something right now and once we get from under that, whatever it seems to be, that this city will go forward.”
In order to override the mayor’s veto, the council at the next regular city council meeting would need four out of five council members’ votes. Initially the ordinance passed 3 to 2, with council members Garry Hubble, R.J. Loupe and Hugh Riviere voting in favor and council members Ray Helen Lawrence and Brandon Brown voting in opposition.
May 8 the city council also approved amendments to the 2012-2013 budget, for cost overruns on the audit. According to Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain, a $19,000 increase was needed from the general fund and $31,000 from the water and gas fund, for a total of $50,000.
McCain said the city originally budgeted around $60,000 for the audit, bringing this year’s total cost to about $103,000.
However, McCain said that is actually $19,000 to $20,000 less than last year.
She said because the auditor deals with all funds, the cost must be distributed among the funds.