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 Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."