|Photo by Robin May|
|Former LHA and OHA Executive Director Walter Guillory|
In the midst of the federal investigations, Walter Guillory resigned in October 2010 as executive director of the LHA (from 2005 to 2009 he held the top job at both authorities simultaneously), as did his deputy director.
On its website, Anderson Iron Works says it’s been in business since 1990, providing services that include welding repair and fabrication, machining, heavy equipment repair, metal sales, trailers and hitches.
Anderson, Guillory and Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins have long been the common threads in the housing authority fiascos involving both Lafayette and Opelousas.
Auditors who delved into the city of Opelousas’ books in 2011 also pointed to likely violations of state bid law. Except in an emergency, the state’s bid law requires written contracts for all public works projects over $5,000. “None of the public works projects performed by Anderson Ironworks was supported with written contracts including seven projects in excess of $5,000,” the state’s legislative auditor wrote, also noting there was never any documentation of an emergency to justify expediting the jobs.
But that was only the beginning; the city paid Anderson half of its $42,000 bid for a new roof and siding on the city library the same day the bid was submitted. State law prohibits advance payments for this type of work and requires contractors on public works projects in excess of $25,000 to provide a bond of not less than 50 percent of the contract amount as protection against potential claims from subcontractors and others. There was no such bond posted on the library project.
For this 2011 story on the city’s audit, "The Down-Player," The IND asked Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins if he had any kind of “relationship” with Floyd Anderson or his son, Kendall, who owns the company. “None whatsoever,” the mayor said.
Then we asked the mayor if he knew the family very well. “Oh, I know them, I’ve known them for years. But, I mean nothing more than that; I’ve known a lot of people for years, but no, no relationship.”
The questionable Anderson Iron Works contracts with the LHA date back to at least 2008.
In a 2008 review of the LHA’s operations, independent auditors noted what appeared to be egregious violations of state bid law: Two of three contracts tested had work performed before the contract date and due date for the bids; no dates on bids to determine when they were received; a review of several other contracts for the same vendor, Anderson Iron Works, revealed that all work was done before contract date and bid due date; of the 30 contract files all but four or five were awarded to Anderson Iron Works, the low bidder on almost every single contract — though the work was done before the bids were due. A year later, it was more of the same when auditors did their work: In a test of three contracts covered under the Davis-Beacon Act (a federal law requiring that prevailing wages be paid on public works projects), work on two contracts was started before the contract date and the bid date.
Joe Ann Tyler, who replaced Guillory as executive director of the OHA in late 2009, told the IND in 2011 that after she took over the troubled agency she could not find a single instance where it had followed state bid law in awarding the work.
|Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins|
Cravins, who appoints the OHA’s board and had been under fire for appointing city workers, has maintained he did not influence its operations. “I never once attended a meeting of that board. When I took office there were two city employees on that board. I have never called Walter Guillory, ever, to ask him to give anybody any preference or to give anybody any work because I didn’t meddle in their business. Never called him to talk to him about contractual work, never. I can tell you I had enough to do otherwise.”
Others told The IND that just was not true. “Cravins had lots of control over the Opelousas Housing Authority,” former LHA commissioner Donald Fuselier said in 2011, adding it was Cravins who recruited Guillory to Opelousas while he was still full-time in Lafayette. “I told Walter not to get involved with in that, with those politicians,” Fuselier said.
In its audits of the LHA and OHA, both released in 2011, the legislative auditor questioned the legality of Guillory’s dual position, the excessive salary that came with it and contractual payments to Guillory when he left Opelousas. When he was doing double duty, Guillory’s salary alone from both agencies reached $242,000, the auditors noted.
Anderson, who did not return phone calls for that 2011 story, told The Daily Advertiser that Cravins personally called him for a quote on the city library project (in his response to the audit, Cravins said the library project was an emergency job because slate tiles were falling from the roof, creating a liability issue). The mayor, however, told the Advertiser he did not remember placing that call.