State District Judge Ed Rubin Friday reinstated dismissed Lafayette Housing Authority board commissioners Joe Dennis, John Freeman and Leon Simmons. While City-Parish President Joey Durel had the authority to remove the board members in light of the troublesome 2009 audit, Rubin found, his decision to retain senior commissioner Donald Fuselier constitutes an arbitrary and capricious action.
Seven board members were serving as commissioners during the period covered by the audit; board chairman Buddy Webb resigned after the audit became public for health reasons, and Durel dismissed five members (two did not appeal). He retained Fuselier, saying his background as an attorney and former city prosecutor would be valuable to the board.
Dennis, Freeman and Simmons filed suit after the City-Parish Council upheld the dismissals in a 6-2 vote.
Durel named board replacements on Oct. 7, in the midst of the legal battle, but in court Monday, through Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger, agreed not to swear them in until Rubin had a chance to review the case.
“The evidence presented illustrates that some of the members who were removed began serving on the board in January of 2009 and therefore cannot be presumed to be at fault for the inadequacies of the 2008 audit,” Rubin wrote, noting that Fuselier was also on the board during the time of the previous year’s audit — which also pointed out numerous problems with how the LHA conducts its business.
Rubin also states that it was Fuselier who "proposed" that LHA Executive Director Walter Guillory receive a $55,000 increase in his pay last year, an amount Rubin says Durel views as “pretty excessive.” Fuselier in the past said that he went along with the raise because Guillory was being recruited for a national housing authority position; he did not, however, say that he made the initial recommendation. The raise increased Guillory's base pay to $186,000, with a $5,000 a year business allowance and other benefits.
The Independent Weekly has confirmed, from records at the LHA, that the board went into executive session on Dec. 3, 2009. After that session, when the special meeting of the board of commissioners was called back to order, Fuselier motioned that the board increase the salary, and Freeman seconded the motion.
Guillory’s new contract was signed that day by Joe Dennis, who was acting as chairman while Webb was out of town. It also appears that Fuselier signed as one of two witnesses. For reasons that remain unclear, the contract was backdated to be effective on Nov. 16, 2009.
Only 15 months earlier, on Aug. 7 of 2008, Guillory's contract was renewed for $131,000; that was supposed to be for five years.
It remains unclear, however, who initially proposed that Guillory receive the exorbitant raise.
The Independent Weekly will continue to follow the impact of Rubin’s decision.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
American companies export smog; UN calls for cease-fire in Gaza; fist bump keeps germ transfer down and more national and international news for Monday, July 28, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.
Thousands of people who bought health insurance through the marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul face price hikes next year that could top 10 percent.
Louisiana fell one spot in an annual national ranking of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access.
A federal judge has decided he doesn't need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license.
Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
New details in the case against the man arrested for last week’s bomb threat and bank robbery has surfaced, including a MidSouth Bank surveillance video showing the alleged suspect attempt an early-morning bank robbery.
Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.
An arrest was announced this morning in connection with last week’s bomb scare at UL Lafayette.
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
Unlike those swindled by Bernie Madoff, the victims of Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme won’t be getting any relief from the Securities Investor Protection Corp.’s emergency fund after a recent appellate court ruling.
The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.