The next day, however, Williams was indeed transferred to a newly created position in Baton Rouge, director of corporate services. In essence, the appointment made permanent the "temporary" special projects Williams had been working on for a week in Baton Rouge.
While LCTCS officials described the move as a "lateral transfer," the new job does represent a pay cut for Williams. In his job as regional director, Williams earned an annual base pay of $99,500 with standard benefits and no special allowances. In his new position, Williams' base pay will be $89,000 with standard benefits and no special allowances. LCTCS Vice President Jimmy Sawtelle has taken over as interim Region IV director, with the position likely to be open to applicants in order to find a permanent replacement.
In response to a public records request from The Independent Weekly, LCTCS Public Information Director Kizzy Payton issued a statement that Williams, who was named to the new post without an application or interview process, is a natural fit for the job.
LCTCS neither advertised for applicants nor posted any notice of the director of corporate services position prior to Williams' transfer.
"With the tremendous response from our colleges for certification offerings that the LCTCS provides in the area of corporate training, the need for a Director of Corporate Services position was identified," Payton's statement reads. "Dr. Williams was determined to possess the necessary skill set to quickly move these endeavors forward to better serve the needs of business and industry. Therefore, there was no notice of vacancy and call for applicants for the position."
LCTCS does have a policy requiring it to advertise and form a search committee in hiring all "full time faculty" and "administrative positions at director level or above," a provision that was in effect when Williams was hired as Region IV director.
However, LCTCS Board President Brett Mellington says that policy traditionally has not applied to the central office staff. System President Bumphus, who stepped down last month to take another job in Texas, had been responsible for such hires, according to Mellington. "He's just like the CEO of a corporation. He's going to hire the people he feels he needs. Now when we get to the chancellors and the regional directors for each of the directors, there's probably more buy-in from the community. That's why we do the searches."
Bumphus did not return multiple calls for comment.
Mellington, who also serves as downtown business development manager for the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Downtown Development Authority, says the move was recommended by Bumphus and approved by the board. Mellington adds that Williams' recent high-profile political and legal battles likely factored into the decision.
"We just felt that Chris would probably be better suited where he is now in the new position," says Mellington. "We feel like he's got some talents that we need in the system office. And certainly, Chris has been in the media and in the limelight quite a bit lately, and it hasn't been real positive. I think that's pretty well common knowledge. So I think that Walter [Bumphus] and [Vice President for Workforce Training and Development] Jim Henderson felt that this was the best place for him."
Williams' tenure as regional director lasted less than six months. Bumphus promoted him to the post in July after Williams' former job as Region IV vice chancellor was eliminated in an administrative streamlining of the state's community and technical college system.
Williams was not the popular choice for the regional director's job. Before the appointment was made, the LCTCS District 4 faculty senate ' a 130-member body representing the entire regional staff ' voted on which of the two final candidates, Williams and LCTCS Lafayette Campus Dean Phyllis Dupuis, it would like to see get the job. Williams got only 11 votes, while Dupuis collected 105, with the remaining faculty either abstaining or simply deciding not to vote on the issue.
LTC spokeswoman Payton says that no audits or job performance reviews were performed on Williams during his time as regional director. Mellington says Williams' transfer was not prompted by staff concerns over his hire or performance.
"We certainly are very concerned about how they feel about the way things are going," Mellington says. "The faculty is vitally important to us, and we're certainly concerned about that. Do we make higher decisions based on just their comments to us? No. We make higher decisions on what we think is best for the system and the region."
When Williams took the regional director's job, he was already involved in a contentious crusade on the city-parish council to have Willow Street renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (After more than a year of stalemate on the issue, the council recently passed a resolution supporting a memorial thruway along Willow Street.) Williams accused fellow councilmen who were resistant to the idea of racism and helped organize pickets outside of council meetings and at this year's Festival International.
Less than a week after Williams began working as the Region IV director for LCTCS, he wrote "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive!" on the council dais following one of its meetings. Councilman Randy Menard turned Williams in for defacing public property, sparking a prolonged legal battle in which Williams attempted to have all parish judges barred from hearing the case. Williams has appealed his sentence, which included community service and a fine.
Williams, who did not return a call for comment, is term-limited off the city-parish council at the end of this year and widely rumored to be eyeing a possible run for state legislative office. In his new position with LCTCS, Williams, who previously reported directly to Bumphus, will now commute to Baton Rouge to work directly under Henderson.
In her answer to The Independent's public records request, Payton says Williams will "develop and implement [a] business plan for the delivery of system level, non-credit corporate training (e.g. Command Spanish, Lean Six Sigma and HazMat, etc.) to include analysis of demand, development of marketing strategies, and execution process design."
"I think [Williams] has got some talents that Jim Henderson felt he could use," Mellington says. "Workforce development, he's been involved in that. He knows a lot of people, makes contacts, so that's why we moved him."
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”