The pressure is clearly growing on UL Lafayette to review the work Chris Williams has been doing at the university since he first secured a full-time job as a political science instructor in January 2008, thanks to Ray Authement — a move pulled right from the good ol’ boys’ playbook that the former president shamelessly tried to pass off as an emergency appointment. Authement hired Williams just as he was leaving the Lafayette City-Parish Council.
In August 2008, Williams was transferred to the UL Department of Special Services, where he now works full-time as a counselor. The Independent Weekly first uncovered outside work Williams does for the Lafayette Housing Authority and the nonprofit community group SMILE.
And while UL President Joe Savoie would not comment on Williams’ future, he did confirm that an inquiry is under way.
“The university is working with the [Louisiana] Legislative Auditor, reviewing all relevant records,” Savoie says. “When that review is complete, we will respond as warranted. I can’t move until I know what reality is.”
All full-time UL employees are required by the UL System policy to annually disclose any outside employment. The form requires employees to report the name and address of the outside employer, a description of the activity and whether it presents any conflict with the employee’s duties at the university or government code of ethics.
On his July 2010-June 2011 disclosure to UL, Williams noted outside work with a time commitment of 0-20 hours per week with the Lafayette Training and Career Development Center, depending on “if company has a contract.” He identifies LTCDC as a “non-profit since 1988.” LTCDC is his company.
What he failed to report was that the LHA contract required him since late 2007 — not anyone else at LTCDC — to work 40 hours as a case manager for the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program. On his disclosure form from the year before, he only noted working “evenings/weekends.”
Williams’ LTCDC, which signed another contract with SMILE in January, took in $172, 200 in grants for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 and showed $175,000 in expenses. In 2008, the training center reported $89,000 in grants and $75,000 in expenses; in 2007 it had $68,000 in grants and $68,444 in expenses. The bulk of the expenses are classified as "program expenses," though there is no breakdown for how much of the money goes to salaries. With his UL salary of $41,000 (plus $2,000 each semester for teaching a night class), DHAP contract and SMILE contract, Williams was bringing in about $200,000 a year.
In addition to Williams, other case managers on the DHAP were Beatrice Wilson (aka Porsha Evans), Charlie Esie, Linda Jefferson and Myra Parker. All were dismissed by LHA’s board last Friday, their contracts canceled. Also earning money on the program were Gwen Angelle, who provides accounting services and Susie Senegal, an intake specialist, according to LHA Deputy Director Jonathan Carmouche, who collected extra money by inspecting homes on the DHAP (and other LHA programs). Carmouche was in charge of the DHAP.
Both Angelle and Senegal have been retained, confirms LHA Executive Director Walter Guillory. "Gwen has been retained to continue her function as an accountant. Her function of providing housing payments to the landlords on behalf of our participants has continued as well as she is assisting in reviewing participant files, contacting clients as a follow up on behalf of their needs assessments and other various functions weekly." Williams says Senegal continues to work as an intake specialist. "Her function as the intake specialist has remained the same in addition to other functions of contacting clients, reviewing files, and performing follow up calls on behalf of their needs assessments." Angelle’s hourly rate is $15.60, and Senegal's hourly rate is $12.70.
Read more in this week’s cover story,"Self-Serving."