Three of the ousted Lafayette Housing Authority board members finally had their chance to formally review the blistering audit that led to their removal, and the news was anything but pleasant.Three of the ousted Lafayette Housing Authority board members finally had their chance to formally review the blistering audit that led to their removal, and the news was anything but pleasant.
Tim Green of Monroe-based accounting firm Allen, Green and Williamson told the commissioners the 2009 audit contains 16 specific problem areas, which is far more than the average number of findings in a typical review, The Advocate reported. “At 16, you failed the test,” the paper quoted Green telling the three board members Wednesday. “I’m just being candid with you.”
Joe Dennis, John Freeman and Leon Simmons, who were dismissed from the board in August by City-Parish President Joey Durel, were reinstated to the board last week by state District Judge Ed Rubin. While he found that Durel had the authority to dismiss the board members and that their removal was properly upheld during an appeal to the City-Parish Council, Rubin noted that Durel’s action was arbitrary because of his decision to keep one board member, Donald Fuselier. Durel has yet to respond to Rubin's ruling.
The board's initial efforts to hold a meeting failed due to lack of a quorum because Fuselier did not show up, but after further review of the board’s bylaws, LHA attorney Daniel Stanford found that the original proclamation creating the housing authority, signed in 1940, called for a board of commissioners consisting of five members appointed by what was then the mayor of Lafayette. At some point since then, a board member was added from Broussard and Abbeville (those two dismissed members did not appeal), but Stanford could not find where a resolution was ever passed authorizing the creation of two additional seats. Therefore, a board of three constitutes a quorum, Stanford says.
At Wednesday’s meeting, officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development informed the board members that they cannot approve any expenditures without authorization from the federal agency. HUD, which arrived this week and plans to stay for weeks, possibly months, to work through the problems in the audit, provides most of the LHA’s funding. At Wednesday's meeting HUD officials said they had not taken over the housing authority.
The audit questioned what appeared to be exhorbitant payments to contract case managers who were working with clients displaced by hurricanes (the five case managers were later fired by the board), extra payments to LHA Deputy Director Jonathan Carmouche for inspecting homes (a practice that has since ceased), potential violations of state bid law requirements and numerous issues of altered documents and/or lack of documentation for expenses. The audit also pointed to various deficiencies in how the LHA handled funding and expenses for the St. Antoine Gardens home-ownership program, problems that remain on the LHA's books.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
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."