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.
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Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
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The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.
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Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to New Orleans this weekend to stir up voter support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Saints coach Sean Payton has spent much of his team's erratic season trying to build his players up.
The Daily Advertiser has weighed in on this year's LPSB elections with nine endorsements.