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.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.