Some residents are responding to a signed and certified petition to recall Port Allen Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter by calling for the recall of a long-time member of the city council.
Council Member R.J. Loupe has been Councilmember-At-Large four times since 1989, the fourth being his current term since re-election last year. Loupe also ran for mayor in 1992 against former mayor Lynn Robertson and three other candidates but lost in the primary, according to Louisiana Secretary of State data.
Loupe said he was Mayor Pro-Tem for most of his 16 years on the council. After former mayor Derek Lewis pled guilty to racketeering in June 2011, Loupe was sworn in as interim mayor.
Once Roger Bergeron was elected mayor in Nov. 2011, Loupe continued serving as Councilmember-At-Large and Mayor Pro-Tem. This year he finally relinquished his Mayor Pro-Tem title to Council Member Ray Helen Lawrence. The city council unanimously approved the change.
But despite his many years on the city council, Loupe said he wasn’t surprised that a recall petition filed on Sept. 4 with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office targeted him.
“I knew they were going after somebody,” he said.
Residents Larry Profit and Gizele Thompson are Chairman and Co-Chairman of the petition. They do not have publicly listed telephone numbers, and attempts to contact them otherwise went unanswered as of Tuesday afternoon.
West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Stacy Ryan said the petitioners now have 180 days to gather 1,284 signatures of registered voters within the city limits of Port Allen – 11 more signatures than was needed to recall mayor Slaughter.
Loupe has frequently opposed ordinances put forth by the mayor, including her 2013-2014 proposed budget in June.
Loupe and two other council members, Hugh Riviere and Garry Hubble, brought a case against Slaughter in June for a July 2 hearing. In that case, they alleged unlawful actions of the mayor since she took office in January and requested preliminary injunctions to stop the mayor from continuing those actions.
Slaughter’s salary was also discussed at length during the court proceedings.
However, Loupe stated in council meetings that he would be in favor of Slaughter receiving about $85,000 a year, $20,000 more than the council budgeted, if she simply asked for a budget amendment.
In late August, when Riviere and Hubble signed the petition to recall the mayor, Loupe said he didn’t sign it.
Amidst accusations by the mayor that three of the city council members secretly orchestrated the petition, Loupe added, “I didn’t call for it.”
Loupe is also targeted in an ongoing employment discrimination case in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana.
Former mayor Bergeron and the city of Port Allen are targeted in that case, as well.
Former Assistant CFO Philip Mason alleges that in Aug. 2011 when Loupe was mayor, the city council and Loupe denied Mason a supplemental pay increase “to which he was entitled, for working the duties of the CFO position since Oct. 2010.”
Also in Aug. 2011, when the search for a new CFO began, Mason said he was not considered for the position, “nor was the other qualified African-American candidate,” according to the lawsuit.
A new CFO was hired in Oct. 2011.
In Dec. 2011, the city council stripped Mason of his additional city clerk position and on Jan. 18, 2012, Bergeron terminated him as Assistant CFO.
“The proffered reason for the termination was that the city did not need the Assistant CFO position,” the lawsuit states.
In 2010 during Lewis’s administration, the Assistant CFO and Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) positions were created to be trainee positions for the city’s long-time CFO and CAO who were retiring.
Despite a 3-2 vote against Lewis’ picks for the assistant positions, Lewis announced he was hiring them anyway.
“These Caucasian members became furious and expressed their dissatisfaction,” the lawsuit states. “These members wanted to hire Caucasian individuals for these jobs.”
Mason said in the lawsuit, that he was hired “over the strenuous objections of the City Council’s three Caucasian members, one being Mr. Loupe.”
A new CAO was hired in June 2012 and the Assistant CAO let go shorty thereafter. The city council voted unanimously this year to strike the Assistant CFO and Assistant CAO positions from the city’s books.