The state Supreme Court followed the Third Circuit in dealing another blow to City-Parish President Joey Durel and the C-P council on their decision to remove Lafayette Housing Authority board members.
Joe Dennis, John Freeman and Leon Simmons could soon be back in the sympathetic courtroom of District Judge Ed Rubin. The former Lafayette Housing Authority board of commission members have been fighting for reinstatement more than a year. City-Parish President Joey Durel removed them in August 2010 after a blistering audit of the agency led to an FBI investigation, and Rubin reinstated them Oct. 27, 2010, calling their dismissal arbitrary and capricious because board member Donald Fuselier was allowed to stay on.
(Fuselier subsequently resigned from the board in February of this year.)
Durel, however, again removed Dennis, Freeman and Simmons last November claiming the trio illegally went into executive session (although board members asked the media to leave the room so they could go into executive session, a visiting judge found that they had not violated the law).
After the council upheld their November dismissal, the three went back to Rubin, asking that Durel and the council be held in contempt of court for violating Rubin's original order to reinstate them.
Arguing that the second dismissal was a new removal unrelated to Rubin's order, the administration appealed, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeal ruled against LCG this April, noting it was premature to challenge the contempt issue. Durel et al also sought to have Rubin recused, claiming the order for contempt was secured through ex parte contact with the plaintiffs’ counsel. LCG also alleged bias and prejudice on Rubin's part, noting in court filings some of the judge's comments in a conference call:
a. “I’m irate about this matter. I’ve seen nothing but disregard of my October 27 Order.”
b. “I’m tired of this [expletive deleted].”
c. “I almost held them in contempt last time but Pat Ottinger took responsibility. Now they’re doing it again.”
d. “I’m tired of being in the middle of this [expletive deleted].”
e. “Mr. Hebert, unless the two of you can work something out before Friday, there’s
going to be a hearing on this matter.”
After Rubin's suggestion the parties try to settle, Hebert received an email from the former board members' counsel offering to discuss settlement terms to avoid a March 11, 2011, contempt proceeding, according to court filings. “It is unclear how a settlement between litigants can avoid contempt proceedings, but this email made it clear that both counsel who participated in the conference call with Judge Rubin had the same understanding of comment 4(e) above – a settlement between the parties would avoid the imminent contempt proceedings,” Hebert writes in the filing. “The only possible relief available to Respondents would be a reinstatement to their positions as Commissioners on the Lafayette Housing Authority, and/or payment of some sum of money.”
After the circuit court also declined in April of this year to reverse Rubin’s decision to recuse himself, LCG appealed to the state Supreme Court. On Sept. 16, the higher court declined to hear the case, effectively sending it back to district court.
For now at least, this entire costly legal battle is an exercise in futility. There no longer is a board of commissioners of the LHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken over the troubled agency's operations, having recently hired Katie Anderson as chief operating officer. When a new board might be seated is anybody's guess.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.