Sparks fly over campaign literature

Written by Emily Bell on . Posted in Local

Ahead of the Nov. 16 recall election, Port Allen city council members were unable to override the mayor’s veto of the city’s 2013-2014 budget.

Instead, the Nov. 13 city council meeting became more about the campaign literature that circulated prior to the recall election – and claims of the mayor’s foul play.

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, whom 56.85 percent of voters on Nov. 16 voted to recall, distributed a letter to voters prior to the recall election urging against the recall and reiterating her campaign promises.

But among the campaign literature, there was also a six-page document distributed, titled, “Facts Port Allen citizens have a right to know” and written by undisclosed “Concerned citizens of Port Allen, Louisiana.”

The document contained confidential employment information of many current and former employees, often with steep claims of wrongdoing.

The document stated, “Information above is public record at city hall – check the “facts” for yourselves!”

But former city employee of 36 years Charlene Kemp, who was called out in the document, asked the mayor who the concerned citizens were.

“It is a public record, but it has to be in writing when you request something like that from three years ago,” Kemp said. “Somebody had to request that information.”

“Who are the authors of these so-called facts?” former mayor Roger Bergeron said, as well.

After the mayor was asked repeatedly if she was the one putting out the information, Slaughter said, “People are saying things that Mayor Slaughter is doing. Mayor Slaughter is not doing any of those things.”

Former utility clerk Kaci Daigle, who was also called out in the document, asked Slaughter if she was in West Palm Estates the night before handing out the document.

Slaughter said, “This letter that you’re talking about, that comes from concerned citizens. I have no dealing with that.”

When Daigle asked Slaughter again if she was in West Palm Estates the night before, Slaughter said, “My whereabouts are all over the city.”

The document claimed that Daigle and other former utility clerks who quit this year quit because they were not willing to cross-train per the mayor’s instructions. Daigle instead said she quit due to her unhappiness with the mayor’s handling of what she said, “briefly…became a hostile work environment.”

Slaughter said on Aug. 7 that there was tension in the utility office from the day she stepped foot into office.

“There was friction on that floor between those three ladies,” she said. “I met with them. We had meetings, we had group sessions, let’s work together… that did not happen.”

Daigle said she met with the mayor on at least two occasions, but the mayor simply suggested that the utility clerks wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

“Everything was just ‘wipe the slate clean’ with you, and I just couldn’t work in that environment anymore,” Daigle said. “It was too stressful.”

Former utility clerk Terecita Pattan said of the document, “The thing that I had a problem with was my name on it.”

“I really don’t appreciate the slander,” she said. “I’ve bent over backwards to help the city of Port Allen.”

After Kemp spoke, the mayor became angered by the accusations made against her and shut down further discussion of the document.

Slaughter reminded those complaining of slander that, “My name has been slandered in the process also.”

In addition to accusations made against current and former city employees, the document continued the line of rhetoric of Slaughter’s supporters that “racism” is at play in Port Allen. The document called out a group of “Caucasians” and “certain African-Americans who did not vote for Mayor Slaughter last election and have decided to join forces with the Caucasian group via a recall petition.”

The chairmen of the recall petition were two black women. Slaughter is the first black woman mayor of Port Allen, but not the first black mayor.

The document also stated that a case three council members brought against the mayor this summer was “dismissed,” when in fact 18th Judicial District Court Judge Alvin Batiste made a ruling in that case on July 2.

CFO Audrey McCain confirmed as of 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19 that a special meeting was scheduled for the following day to introduce the 2013-2014 city budgets.

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