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A Fight for Honesty in P.A. City Government

Written by Emily Bell on . Posted in Local

Riviere-edited

Port Allen City Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere, who banded together with fellow councilmen Garry Hubble and R.J. Loupe to bring a lawsuit against Port Allen Mayor Demetric Slaughter, publicly commented for the first time since the July 2 ruling.

Neither Slaughter nor the Port Allen City Council would speak on the ruling at the Wednesday, July 3 city council meeting, but Riviere, per the invitation of “Capital City News” and “Central City News” Editor Woody Jenkins, offered some comments on the ruling and the state of Port Allen city government Tuesday, July 9 in East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish.

At the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon, which was sponsored by the Republican Party of EBR, Riviere spoke of the need for honesty in government, his campaign platform last year as a conservative independent.

As an elected official, he said, “You are held to a higher standard, as you should be held to a higher standard…We as elected officials should welcome that scrutiny.”

Rivere said he, Hubble and Loupe brought the lawsuit against the mayor “to hold Mayor Slaughter to the letter of the law.”

He briefed businessmen, politicians, other prominent figures and press in attendance July 9 of the actions of Slaughter since she took office in January, and summed up much of the July 2 court ruling for those who did not know or still had questions.

July 2, 18th Judicial District Court Judge Alvin Batiste ruled not to reinstate CFO Audrey McCain’s online banking access and signing authority for the city’s bank accounts with American Gateway Bank, unless specifically provided by ordinance.

Riviere said, “That was probably the most disappointing thing in the judge’s ruling last week.”

He said Slaughter “stripped any semblance of checks and balances” when she removed McCain’s name from the city’s bank accounts with American Gateway Bank. McCain said July 2, she only receives monthly bank statements now.

Riviere said he would be interested in introducing a city ordinance to restore McCain’s banking authority, but that the ordinance process could take up to two months.

Riviere also said he expects an agenda item for the July 10 city council meeting that will introduce an ordinance to appropriate more funds for Slaughter’s nearly $85,000 annual salary.

Budgeted funds from Jan. 1 through June 30 for a $65,000 annual salary ran out May 24. Batiste ruled that the mayor could not unilaterally take funds higher than the budgeted amount, but that the council needed to appropriate more money, or the mayor could obtain a court order.

As of press time, the West Side Journal had not received an agenda for the July 10 city council meeting.

Councilman Garry Hubble, former CFO Claire Sarradet and resident Bootsie Crochet also attended the luncheon.

Hubble said, “When you have an official that is misusing [and] abusing the system, which is what is happening, we will not let that continue.”

Sarradet said, “This is blatant abuse of power.”

“Really Port Allen has been under attack,” Jenkins said, referring to a recent history of corruption in Port Allen in which former Mayor Derek Lewis and former Police Chief Fred Smith are serving time in federal prison for racketeering. He said he invited Riviere to speak at the luncheon because the capital region needs to stand together with Port Allen.

“Eventually ‘right’ does win out,” Riviere said.

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